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Hilary Swank: ‘The Homesman’ Is a Feminist Western

Fans and stars of Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman” packed the red carpet at the Dolby Theatre Tuesday for the AFI Fest gala screening of the femme-oriented western.

The film, which follows Hillary Swank’s moralistic homesteader Mary Bee Cuddy as she transports three troubled women across the prairie, highlights the hardship of pioneer women in the American West.

“This movie I would not call completely a Western. I think it is more than that. To me it is more of a feminist movie,” Swank said. “Westerns are usually men seeking vengeance and it is the women who are kind of like a prostitute or keeping house. It is really nice to see not one strong female lead but a handful of them.”

While feminism has come a long way since the 19th century, Swank said the movie will still resonate with viewers.

“This movie is a feminist movie because it really deals with the objectification and trivialization of women. It takes place in the middle of the 1800s and it’s dealing with issues we still deal with today.”

Jones, who also directed, starred, produced and co-wrote the screenplay, said he didn’t set out to make a movie with a feminist agenda.

“I’m a humanist, but my grandmother, mother, wife and daughter are all female, and I like those people. I’m a feminist but that is not all I am,” he said.

The characters in “The Homesman” battle the elements, hunger and native Americans on their slow wagon journey across the plains. If the actors had to make the journey in real life what would they bring?

Swank answered, “My dog.” Jones opted for “a good long range rifle.”