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Where’s the cast of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ now?

The cast of Cowboys & Aliens included many well-known Hollywood actors.

via Universal

In 2011, Cowboys & Aliens gathered several of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors and talents to create a fresh take on the Western and Science Fiction genres. Cowboys & Aliens‘s all-star ensemble, which includes Daniel CraigHarrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde, provided a unique dimension and voice to the film, which also contains the acting chops of Sam Rockwell and Paul Dano, among others.

Set in the late nineteenth century in the New Mexico Territory, Cowboys & Aliens is based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s 2006 graphic novel of the same name and features a script written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby. The film follows the arrival of an alien spaceship, which halts a clash between cowboys and Apache Indians. The extraterrestrials abduct humans to obtain gold. The plot thickens as it’s revealed that Jake Lonergan’s (Daniel Craig) wristband conceals a weapon from the alien spaceship, making him the only one who can help fight against the invasion. 

Some applauded the picture for its effort at a genre mashup and the performances of Craig and Ford, while others questioned its tone and pacing. Nevertheless, Cowboys & Aliens managed to do well at the box office. Here’s a look at the prominent actors from this picture that featured an odd mix of genres and how their careers have progressed over the past dozen years.

Daniel Craig 

Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in 'Knives Out'
Image via Lionsgate

In Cowboys & Aliens, Daniel Craig plays Jake Lonergan, a feared outlaw who has lost his memory. Jake finds himself in the middle of the New Mexico desert, wearing a mysterious metallic device on his wrist and without recollection of his past or present circumstances. Jake’s weird wrist device is a weapon that could take out the alien spaceships attacking the area. Daniel Craig’s impressive filmography after 2011’s Cowboys & Aliens includes roles in major studio releases and smaller indies. Without question, his portrayal of James Bond in the 007 series was his most recognizable one. 

After Cowboys & Aliens, he portrayed James Bond again in Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015), and No Time to Die (2021), the last film in which he appeared in the role. Craig also played a Southern thief in Steven Soderbergh’s heist comedy Logan Lucky (2017) and an eccentric investigator in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery Knives Out (2019), both of which highlighted his comedic side. Craig’s body of work also includes stage productions. His Broadway and West End credits include A Steady Rain (2009) alongside Hugh Jackman, Betrayal (2013) alongside his wife Rachel Weisz, and Othello (2016) off-Broadway alongside David Oyelowo.

Harrison Ford 

Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton in 'Yellowstone: 1923'
Image via James Minchin/James Minchin III/Paramount Plus

Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, played by Harrison Ford, is a rough and tough cattle rancher who acts as an opponent at first but ultimately becomes a major ally in the struggle against the alien invaders. Dolarhyde is a wealthy cattle baron and ex-military officer who rules the town of Absolution with an iron fist. Cowboys & Aliens is just one stop along Harrison Ford’s impressive and varied career path in Hollywood, which spans several decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ford became a household name thanks to his roles as Han Solo in George Lucas’s Star Wars original trilogy and Indiana Jones in Steven Spielberg’s franchise. 

In 2011, Harrison Ford continued his successful acting career by reprising some of his most famous roles and trying out new ones. One of his most notable achievements was playing Han Solo again in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and returning as archaeologist Indiana Jones for the series’ fifth film. Ford also starred in Paranoia, a corporate thriller released in 2013, The Age of Adaline, a 2015 romantic drama, and Call of the Wild, an ecological drama released in 2020, in which he gave a heartfelt performance alongside a CGI dog.

Olivia Wilde 

Image via Warner Bros.

Olivia Wilde plays Ella Swenson, a fascinating woman who seems to be a typical frontier woman in Absolution at first glance. She plays a minor role at first but becomes crucial when she aids Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) in recovering his memory and facing off against the extraterrestrial invaders. The fact that Ella isn’t human is her character’s main plot twist. She is an extraterrestrial from another race who has been hiding among humans to combat the alien invaders that exterminated her people. Olivia Wilde’s career took off after her “Cowboys & Aliens” performance, and has since appeared in many successful movies and TV shows. Wilde also expanded her acting career into directing.

Among the films she has appeared in include 2013’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Her, and Rush. Wilde showed her versatility in 2017 with her Broadway debut in 1984 by George Orwell. Wilde’s move to the director’s chair following Cowboys & Aliens is arguably the most significant change in her career trajectory since the film’s release. Her first film as director, 2019’s Booksmart, was lauded for its intelligent script, solid acting, and Wilde’s assured direction. Don’t Worry Darling, Wilde’s second feature as director, premiered in 2022 and starred Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. 

Sam Rockwell

Image via Marvel Studios

For his part in Cowboys & AliensSam Rockwell portrays Doc, the saloon owner of Absolution. Doc is unlike Western’s conventional rough-and-tumble heroes. He’s a gentleman and a bit of a softie who’d instead serve drinks or sew up wounds than fire a pistol. Doc is not a native of the Wild West; he and his wife Maria moved there from the East in search of a quieter existence. His story emphasizes ordinary people’s difficulties as they strive to adjust to frontier life. As the invasion begins, the aliens capture Doc’s wife. This event changes him from a calm saloon owner into a man with a mission: to save his wife from the aliens and get revenge. 

Sam Rockwell has since given a string of critically lauded performances demonstrating the breadth and depth of his acting abilities. Rockwell has played various roles but is best known for portraying flawed characters. He earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as a damaged police officer in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). Another Oscar nomination came his way for portraying former president George W. Bush in Vice (2018). Rockwell was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his role as dancer and choreographer Bob Fosse in the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon (2019), for which he received widespread critical acclaim. In addition to his acting appearances, Sam Rockwell has provided voice work in animated films such as The One and Only Ivan (2020).

Paul Dano 

Paul Dano as The Riddler in The Batman 2
Image via Warner Bros.

Paul Dano portrays Percy Dolarhyde, the pampered and arrogant son of Harrison Ford’s Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde. Because of his father’s money and influence in Absolution, Percy acts spoiled and entitled. His behavior raises tensions in town, which leads to the eventual confrontation between the Dolarhydes and the protagonist Jake Lonergan (played by Daniel Craig). Due to his early kidnapping by the alien invaders, Percy’s character doesn’t get much screen time to develop. His abduction, however, prompts his gruff, domineering father to take action, revealing the colonel’s tender feelings for his wayward son and setting the scene for the town’s defence against the aliens.

Dano has starred in many critically acclaimed films since, both indie and studio fare. In 2012, Dano co-starred in the critically praised film Ruby Sparks, written and directed by his real-life girlfriend, Zoe Kazan. In the 2013 film Prisoners, Dano was a suspect in kidnapping two young girls, making it one of his most memorable roles. In Love & Mercy, a biopic about the Beach Boys’ singer and songwriter Brian Wilson, released in 2014, Dano took on the challenging dual parts of a young Brian Wilson and his mature, damaged self. He received a Golden Globe nomination and critical plaudits for his performance. Paul Dano’s 2018 film Wildlife marked his directing debut. 

Clancy Brown 

Clancy Brown as Ray Schoonover in 'Daredevil'
Image via Marvel Television

Clancy Brown portrays the town preacher, Meacham. Meacham, a devout man who counsels his fellow citizens of Absolution, is the film’s moral center. Meacham is not your conventional man of the cloth, even though he is a preacher. He’s a pistol whiz, Bible scholar, reformed felon, and religious convert. Meacham proves his devotion to his flock by jumping right into the fray when alien invaders arrive. Meacham also plays a significant part in assisting Daniel Craig’s Jake Lonergan to regain his memory. 

Clancy Brown is an in-demand voice and film actor due to his deep, authoritative voice and powerful physical presence. Brown has appeared in various genre films and TV shows, including Homefront (2013) and Emergence. However, Brown’s voice actor output may be much more significant. Many cartoons and computer games include his outstanding voiceover work. His most famous job is as the voice of Mr. Krabs on SpongeBob SquarePants, a role he has held since the show’s inception in 1999. He has also provided voices for animated programs like The Venture Bros.Star Wars RebelsTrollhunters, and Rick and Morty. Brown has also done much voice work for video games, lending his voice to characters in titles like The Elder Scrolls OnlineStar Wars: The Old Republic, and Detroit: Become Human.

Faith Katunga
About the author

Faith Katunga

Faith is a freelance writer with an insatiable curiosity for all aspects of current events, from the global economy and fashion to pop culture and travel. She watches an absurd number of cat videos on Instagram when not reading or writing about what is going on in the world.