“He’s kind of Gary Cooper decent and a real throwback”: Taylor Sheridan’s Choice for His $37M Movie Might Have Saved it After Hitting a Casting Roadblock

Taylor Sheridan's decision to cast Chris Pine in Hell or High Water blessed audiences with one of the finest performances ever witnessed on screen.

Taylor Sheridan and Hell or High Water


  • Hell or High Water marked a pinnacle in Chris Pine's career as he portrayed one of the bank-robbing brothers in Taylor Sheridan's compelling 2016 narrative.
  • Pine's portrayal, guided by Sheridan's direction, mesmerized audiences, garnering widespread acclaim.
  • Sheridan's decision to cast Pine not only elevated the film but also proved pivotal in its success, affirming Pine as the perfect choice for the role.
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Hell or High Water was a career highlight for Chris Pine, portraying a bank-robbing brother in Taylor Sheridan’s gripping 2016 tale. Pine’s performance, under Sheridan’s direction, captivated audiences, earning much praise. Sheridan’s choice to cast Pine not only elevated the film but also saved it as Pine was indeed the right choice.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster in Taylor Sheridan's Hell or High Water
Chris Pine and Ben Foster in Taylor Sheridan’s Hell or High Water | Lionsgate Films

Through Pine’s nuanced portrayal, the character resonated with viewers, exploring themes of family and justice. Pine’s commanding presence and raw emotion left a lasting impact, making Hell or High Water a standout in both his and Sheridan’s impressive bodies of work.

Taylor Sheridan’s Casting of Chris Pine Took Hell or High Water to a Whole New Level

Taylor Sheridan aimed for the audience to sympathize with bank robbers Toby played by Chris Pine, and Tanner played by Ben Foster, despite their criminal actions. This is why the script deliberately keeps their reasons hidden for a significant portion of the film, allowing viewers to gradually uncover their motivations and complexities.


In an interview with IndieWire, Taylor Sheridan revealed,

If you know why they’re doing it from beginning, that they have noble reasons, that would make Marcus (Bridges) the villain. I wanted you to fall in love with these boys and then learn what they’re doing, so you are rooting for Marcus and Alberto (Gil Birmingham) as well. So when you see the inevitable conclusion, you don’t mind if the cars crash together.

Taylor Sheridan's cowboy in Hell or High Water
Taylor Sheridan played an anonymous cowboy in the film, Hell or High Water | Lionsgate Films

While finding actors suitable for Marcus and Tanner was relatively straightforward, the role of Toby proved challenging to cast. Sheridan searched extensively for the right fit but struggled until he he saw Chris Pine. Pine proved to be an ideal match, embodying the character flawlessly.

That was Toby. You don’t see it in the studio films, but he’s kind of Gary Cooper decent and a real throwback.

Who would have thought that one of the lowest-budget movies would become the perfect platform for Chris Pine to showcase his true capabilities?


Chris Pine’s Performance in Hell or High Water Deserves More Attention

In Hell or High Water, Chris Pine plays Toby Howard. Toby is a man driven by his circumstances, a modern-day outlaw with a singular mission, to save his family’s ranch from foreclosure. Unlike the stereotypical outlaw, Toby’s motivations stem from familial duty rather than chaos. Pine’s portrayal lends Toby a complexity that defies easy categorization, navigating the moral gray areas that shape his decisions.

The Howard brothers are desperate
Chris Pine and Ben Foster in Hell or High Water | Lionsgate Films

What distinguishes Pine’s performance is his mastery of non-verbal acting. With every furrowed brow and stare, he communicates Toby’s inner turmoil, allowing viewers to feel the weight of his desperation. Pine’s portrayal transcends the screen, immersing the audience in Toby’s emotional journey cementing him as a true Hollywood star. While Ben Foster’s Tanner provides fiery impulsiveness, Pine delivers a nuanced and understated performance that speaks volumes in silence.

Fans are glad Pine got to showcase his versatility as an actor. His portrayal perfectly captures the essence of Toby’s struggle, making him a compelling and relatable figure in the narrative. Truly one of his bests!


Hell or High Water is currently streaming on Paramount+.


Written by Sampurna Banerjee

Articles Published: 864

Sampurna Banerjee, an ardent enthusiast of pop culture and movies, pours her passion into her role as a writer for FandomWire. With a penchant for Marvel, DC, and sitcoms, she has contributed over 400 articles, staying up-to-date to the entertainment industry's latest buzz. Moreover, she's penned over 300 articles for Animated Times and shared her work across several Instagram pages. Currently she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Calcutta University.