When John Sturges remade Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece Seven Samurai as the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven, he turned Kurosawa’s seven Japanese samurai into seven American gunslingers. Antoine Fuqua’s new version, out Friday, keeps Sturges’ Old West setting but introduces a far more diverse band of seven, including Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Native American actor Martin Sensmeier, and South Korean actor Byung-hun Lee with Denzel Washington starring as the leader of the crew.
Fuqua has said before that his goal was not to make a racially diverse Western but rather to find the best actors possible to tell this story. Now, in a new interview with Uproxx, he talks about the racial politics of The Magnificent Seven and how his movie differs from Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, another recent Western.
In the interview, Fuqua also revealed that he intentionally chose not to include the N-word in The Magnificent Seven, and when he was asked about Tarantino’s recent justifications for using the word in The Hateful Eight, Fuqua had a lot to say.
“For me, what’s the point of it?” he told Uproxx. “To degrade a person? You can call somebody an asshole. Does it have to be a word to degrade their race? To identify someone that way, it’s such an ugly word. What’s the point of it? And it’s interesting, if you don’t do it — if you succeed with the characters and the story and tell a good, entertaining movie — in a weird way, people forget. You walk out, ‘Oh, that’s right, he was black, or Asian.’”
Fuqua went on to add that using such an “ugly word” would not have improved The Magnificent Seven or advanced the plot.
“As far as your experience with the story, as long as it has something specific to do with that thing, then what’s the real point?” Fuqua continued. “Because it’s an ugly word and none of us want to hear it. I certainly don’t want to hear it. Denzel doesn’t want to hear it. So why would we have to go to the set every day and make a movie and hear that ugly word when we are making a movie about guys who do the right thing? Where does that fit in?”
Read the full interview at Uproxx.
The Magnificent Seven, which also stars Chris Pratt and Haley Bennett, arrives in theaters Friday.