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The Tom Hanks western News of the World makes the actor’s first foray into the classic Hollywood genre. Hanks already seamlessly goes between comedy and drama. He’s done historical drama, futuristic sci-fi and even animation. As his first western, and Hanks appreciated how real filming News of the World was. 

Tom Hank rides a horse while Helena Zengel walks
Helena Zengel and Tom Hanks | Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures

News of the World is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, 4K UHD and VOD. On the Blu-ray bonus features, Hanks discusses the real-life western situations in which he filmed News of the World. 

Where was ‘News of the World’ filmed?

News of the World filmed on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That meant all of the exterior locations were in real environments. Hanks plays Captain Kidd, traveling from town to town reading the newspaper.

“We were never on a stage,” Hanks said. “We were never in a production facility. That’s just a gift. That means you’re not really faking anything, the light of a fire, the light of the lanterns.”

The Tom Hanks western involved dangerous and uncomfortable situations

When Kidd comes upon Johanna (Helena Zengel), he agrees to transport her to her nearest living relatives. Along the way, they face dangers like desperados pursuing him on the rocks.

“There’s a reason it looks like we’re behind a bunch of precarious rocks on the side of a hill because that’s where we shot it,” Hanks said. “We shot it very precariously behind some rocks on the side of a hill.”

Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel hiding behind rocks
Helena Zengel and Tom Hanks | Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures

Hanks suggested he suffered minor injuries filming the News of the World gunfight on the rocks.

“It’s very cinematic but it’s not glamorous,” Hanks said. “It’s not a gorgeous amazing shootout that goes on. It is dirty, skinned knees, hard luck and that ends up being delicious. All you had to do was be in the space. All you had to do was really skin your knees on those rocks.”

When Kidd and Johanna encounter a dust storm, the News of the World crew had to manufacture a dust storm.

“You know how you make a dust storm?” Hanks asked. “You have a bunch of big fans but they have to throw dirt into the fans. Otherwise, you can’t see that there’s wind there.”

Still, Hanks preferred dust to some other uncomfortable movie scenes he’s performed.

News of the World Blu-ray
Now available | Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

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“Dust, I’ll trade that for fake rain any day, man,” Hanks said. “Rain at night, that’s a miserable way to shoot.”

Not all of ‘News of the World’ was real

News of the World filmed on real locations, but there was still some movie magic. The Blu-ray shows how visual effects artists added natural elements and animals on top of the actual location. Hanks said that didn’t affect his reality when filming.

“You don’t really have that many cattle and there’s not a river there next to you,” Hanks said. “It ends up just being that magic amalgam of modern day moviemaking.”