The Night They Came Home Charlie Townsend Interview The Nerdy Basement

‘The Night They Came Home’ Star Charlie Townsend on Finding His Rufus Buck Swagger (Interview)

There’s a saying that I usually live by and blurt out randomly throughout my day: “You learn something new every day”. I only say that to preface my new learning and understanding of the term spaghetti western and why the term was used by foreign critics. I typically address any sort of Western media as just that, a Western. No need to make things overly complicated when it comes to categorizing a piece of media but that’s not the world we live in; and ultimately, living in a world where you are properly informed only serves for the betterment of oneself.

I recently came across a Western film starring Danny Trejo and newcomer Charlie Townsend, ‘The Night They Came Home’. As a fan of Western media I was immediately drawn to the film, throw in the fact that pop culture icon Danny Trejo was in the film in a minor role, and it’s an easy sell for me. Much to my enjoyment, watching the story of the Rufus Buck gang once again being told in the film medium, in this low-budget, indie-style film, heavily reminiscent of ‘Bonanza’ and I’m head over heels. Those who know me personally, know that I love a good Western no matter how the story is presented.

‘The Night They Came Home’ hit theaters and on digital on January 12 and got released physically this week. To commemorate the release of the film on Blu-ray and DVD we got to speak with the film’s leading man, Charlie Townsend, and the film’s co-writer, the legendary John A. Russo to discuss the film’s inception, filming, working with Danny Trejo and how Townsend landed the role of Rufus Buck. We also discuss Townsend’s approach to Rufus Buck as he invokes much of his real-life swagger into the character.

'The Night They Came Home' Review: Retelling of The Rufus Buck Gang Story Is Not A Complete Misfire

TNB: Let’s talk about ‘The Night They Came Home’ — this is the Rufus Buck story. How did this all come together for both of you individually?

Charlie Townsend: You know the usual process. I got the call for the audition and went in. And I think I heard back about a week or two later saying that they wanted me to come in and play Rufus Buck. Originally, I didn’t even know I was auditioning for Rufus Buck–I didn’t even really know I was auditioning for the lead. So it was a whirlwind of things going on. I was also looking to make my own kind of Western and start writing my own Western stuff. So it was just perfect timing. Like a whirlwind of things that happened really fast, over the course of a week or two.

TNB: So do you have a history of watching the Westerns going up? Because I know that’s what attracted me to the movie itself. I wrote in my review that I grew up watching ‘Bonanza’ when I was living back in Puerto Rico. So I grew up watching the Spanish dubs of that old western series, which aired back in the 70s back in the day. So obviously, growing up in the ’90s watching Westerns in the Caribbean is always a funny story. But is that something that influenced you along the way?

Charlie Townsend: Easily. Just love all of them. I think from the spaghetti westerns to now, you know, just that. I mean, probably later tonight, I’m gonna throw a Western on before I go to bed. It’s almost every day that I’m trying to catch a new Western. And, you know, I just feel like even movies that aren’t considered quite Westerns anymore. They still have that Western feeling it’s just my jam if you call it that.

'The Night They Came Home' Review: Retelling of The Rufus Buck Gang Story Is Not A Complete Misfire

TNB: To switch over to John, you know, you have a history of being in in the horror genre that’s been one of your main genres, you know, and that you’ve become such a legend in that genre and pop culture. Talk a little about that shift in tone, from going from horror to Western.

John A. Russo: It’s not really a shift. I mean, I saw all the horror movies that came into town when I was a kid. So I saw almost every movie, a lot of the more horror movies. But you can make your philosophical points or two have good action and suspense, and work on things that are socially important. And no matter what the genre is, or what type it is. I first heard about the Rufus Buck gang in the ’60s, and I wanted to write something about that way back then. I wanted to be a serious novelist. I’ve got about 40 published books and only a small percentage of them are horror.

TNB: John, you worked with James O’Brien on writing the story. You said you wanted to write something about this back in the 60s, and now in 2024, this movie has been realized. Ho was it putting all that together all these years later than working with the rest of the cast?

John A. Russo: I was thinking back to something Charlie said earlier, that stuck in my mind, about the spaghetti westerns and so on. And I kind of did have that in mind to go with the minimalist kind of locations. You know, that was one of the striking things just the starkness and the vastness of the landscape. And then you didn’t have like an elaborate ranch house, you have a shack, you know.

This is how these people really lived, probably. And they did capture that in ‘The Night They Came Home’. When Charlie and the guys first show up, you know, the wide shot and you see the VISTA there, and Charlie’s smaller in the back, and then he comes forward, that’s kind of the way I envisioned it being done.

'The Night They Came Home' Review: Retelling of The Rufus Buck Gang Story Is Not A Complete Misfire

TNB: Charlie, you’re the leading man in this film. You portray Rufus Buck. You have this sort of swagger to Rufus. So tell me about getting into that mindset and kind of finding that little swagger in him during your preparations.

Charlie Townsend: I appreciate that. Thank you guys. I feel like I have a little swagger in real life. But I think with Rufus, I think finding the swagger was more or less, you know, getting to find the relationship between me and the gang. And finding a way to justify what I’m doing. It’s hard to play a murderer, for murder’s sake. You have to find a reason as to why you’re doing what you’re doing and why you believe in it. Because if you’re just murdering people, just pulling the trigger, I think people you know, they don’t, they’re not going to click there to watch and sit through it.

But when you have a reason, and you have a justification, that you almost kind of question. He’s a murderer, but you know, Is he right? Or is he wrong? So I think that was the main way of finding the swag, or was just being able to say, you know, is, is this we’re not able to say, but like, why am I doing it? And how can I get it across to everyone else that this is right for me?

TNB: Gotcha. Danny Trejo is narrating the movie. You don’t get to do any scenes with him. But how was that, you know, coming across him on set and things like that? He’s a pretty big staple when it comes to pop culture in general and also some of these Western movies, how was that experience for you?

Charlie Townsend: I mean, is there a bigger cult classic staple than Danny Trejo? You know? It goes without saying. He’s one of the coolest guys you could ever meet. There’s no kind of Hollywood feel when you’re around him. It’s almost like he pulls up with the lunchbox in his hand just ready to come and do some work. So it’s definitely something to take in and soak in.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

‘The Night They Came Home’ is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.

Read our review of ‘The Night They Came Home’ here.

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