Kurt Russell Has The Right Idea About Why Tombstone Has Grown In Popularity In The Past 30 Years


Kurt Russell, star of the legendary 1993 classic Tombstone, reflected on the movie’s increasing popularity, and was able to identify one element from the movie that explains it. The American Western featured a star-studded cast as it depicted the story of the infamous 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place in Tombstone, Arizona. It included some of the most famous names from the American Old West, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, “Curly Bill” Brocius and Johnny Ringo.

Russell reflected on Tombstone being called “one of the greatest Westerns ever”, as its popularity has grown over the years, especially with the recent revival of interest in Westerns. Russell identified a number of factors that led to its initial success and status as a classic of the genre, but he pinpointed one element in particular that has led to its reputation lasting throughout the decades. With the power of Tombstone’s list of top-flight actors and excellent Western action, it has made an impact on later generations.

Tombstone’s Memorable Dialogue Has Greatly Helped The Movie’s Legacy
The classic Western is full of memorable, meaningful quotes.

Russell specifically pointed to the movie’s dialogue as a reason for its longevity. While the characters represent some of the most famous names of the American frontier’s history, the actors helped elevate them to icons of American cinema as well. Tombstone was a career-defining movie for some of its stars, specifically including Russell, who played Wyatt Earp, and Val Kilmer, who played Doc Holliday. Their performances took the already stellar dialogue and helped to make many of the lines truly iconic.

Many of the quotes go well beyond the typical Western one-liners, which are often clichéd and unoriginal. Many borrow from common 19th-century slang, and are not necessarily explained in the context of the film. For example, Doc Holliday’s famous line “You’re a Daisy if you do,” requires a bit of explanation for modern viewers who don’t understand that it’s meant to antagonize his assailant, Frank McLaury.

Val Kilmer Has Most Of Tombstone’s Best Quotes
Kilmer’s Doc Holliday has many of the most quotable lines in the movie.

Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday is responsible for many of the most memorable and oft-quoted lines in Tombstone. Kilmer truly steals the movie with his portrayal of the charismatic Holliday, and elevates him to one of the most famous movie characters in the entire genre, if not the most famous. The real Doc Holliday suffered from tuberculosis, which explains why Kilmer’s Holliday is always sweating throughout the movie, and many of Kilmer’s best lines deal with the character’s ironic and sarcastically nihilistic outlook.


Val Kilmer has a number of iconic roles in his filmography, including Jim Morrison in The Doors, Iceman in Top Gun, and Bruce Wayne himself in Batman Forever. His role as Doc Holliday has to be included in the list of his top roles, and thanks to his many memorable quotes from Tombstone, it’s possible that it is, and will continue to be his most enduring role. An argument can certainly be made for Iceman now that the role was reprised in Top Gun: Maverick, but his quotes from Tombstone will always stand the test of time.

Is Tombstone Really One Of The Best Westerns Ever Made?
From the dialogue to the cast, there is plenty of evidence that it’s among the best.

Particularly in comparison to other Westerns, Tombstone has some of the most memorable dialogue from the entire 1990s. In an interview with GQ, Kurt Russell challenged:

You name me another Western where you can recall as much of the dialogue as people can recall from Tombstone. It’s not even close. Much more so than any other Western. That’s undeniable.

The dialogue of all the characters is distinctly memorable, but Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in particular took the dialogue and made it into something special. The memorable action, famous historical background and elite cast all help define the movie as a success, but Russell is right in his assessment that the dialogue is a big part of what has led to Tombstone’s recognition as one of the greatest Westerns ever made.