As he began to make 3:10 to Yuma, director James Mangold “felt that the western had been hurt by a couple of things,” he tells’s Josh Horowitz. “One is the over historical epic-ization of the western. The western was never about historical accuracy or teaching a history lesson, not the great ones anyway. They were about character.

“To my taste, one of the mistakes in westerns I’d seen was this ponderous sweeping Remington painting kind of Western with the big sweeping strings where suddenly I felt it was more about someone getting lost in the idea of making a western than actually making a story about characters living in the west.” Like what? Open Range? The Grey Fox? Wyatt Earp? Unforgiven? Silverado?

“And then there was a post-modern thing where I felt like a lot of westerns had just become tributes to movies. I didn’t arrive on set everyday with a frame blow-up of a Sergio Leone or John Ford movie.

“At a certain point I think it’s incumbent upon you to just let go. Shoot it like George Stevens would shoot it. Shoot it the way John Ford would shoot it which is to say without some kind of compendium of DVDs in your trailer. Just do it. Be in the moment and make the movie. Look at the people and what they’re doing and the sets your friends have built and make the movie. That to me was the critical mental adjustment I wanted to make.”