While you might think Seth MacFarlane had to chase down Charlize Theron to convince her to co-star in his cowboy comedy, "A Million Ways to Die in the West," the Oscar-winning actress insists it was the other way around. "I got to read this pretty early on," she says of the script for the film, which skewers old-fashioned westerns and life on the frontier. "Just the idea of doing something that's pitched in this very unusual way of a comedy western situation and him at the helm of that, that to me was very intriguing. So I definitely did some chasing."
But a few weeks on location in New Mexico, risking life and limb for the film, quickly had Theron rethinking taking so much initiative. "Look, it's a gorgeous place. I understand why you want to paint it. I would want to paint it. I don't necessarily want to go and shoot in it again. It's just like the weather was unbelievable. I felt like it was like biblical times, and we were all going to die a horrible death by weather," she says. "I mean, there was a night where we shot, and Seth left before me. I got a text from him that literally just said, 'The road is washing away! Get out of your trailer right now and start driving!' And I was like, 'I'm going to die on this movie.'"
Of course, all that risking life and limb can help bring a cast together, and Theron is particularly fond of her co-stars on this one, including MacFarlane, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman and Amanda Seyfried. "There really wasn't a bad apple in the bunch. It really was just a bunch of great people together having fun, working hard, there for the right reasons, wanting to make the movie the best they possibly could," Theron says. "We laughed a lot, and drank a lot, and almost died together a lot. So we are bonded for life."
One particular co-star does stand out, though: Liam Neeson, who plays villainous outlaw Clinch Leatherwood. "I think all of us were a little star struck," she admits. "There was definitely that [whispering], 'Liam's here. Yeah?' 'I saw a car by his trailer.' 'Is he here?' 'Yeah?' 'Is he coming to set?' 'Wow.' Like, trying to be cool when I met first him. There's something about him. He is not just the one-dimensional actor, no matter what he does. And I think that's why people are so endeared by him and why you emotionally tap into him, no matter what he plays. And he plays the baddie in this so convincingly, but there's a realness about him. He's not putting it on. It's always coming from a place of understanding and empathy. It's not plastered or mechanical."
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick