While accounts differ about the true extent of the control Kurt Russell wielded, Val Kilmer has backed up the claim that Russell shot-listed “Tombstone” and served as the real director or co-director, with George P. Cosmatos acting as more of a ghost director. Even in the credits of “Tombstone” then, not everything is as it seems.
Case in point: one of the first faces Russell’s character meets when he and the Earp family ride their wagon into town is that of the local sheriff, Johnny Behan. Unlike Michael Biehn with Johnny Ringo, the actor who played Johnny Behan (also named Jon) didn’t grow a real mustache, but it was more an issue of time than a lack of commitment to his character. Biehn recalled further:
“There was one guy, Jon Tenney. He didn’t get to grow his own mustache because he had a job right before that. They had to put a fake mustache on him. I think he always felt a little bit like the small dog of the group. Because it wasn’t his real mustache. He had to take his mustache off every day. It wasn’t like a mustache styling competition. I don’t think anyone paid much attention to his mustache. Unless Kevin [Jarre] said, ‘Someone work on Michael Biehn’s mustache!'”
The funny thing is, there’s a scene in “Tombstone” where Wyatt Earp calls Sheriff Behan over to meet Doc Holliday. “Forgive me if I don’t shake hands,” Holliday says as he looks Behan up and down contemptuously. And while he has other reasons for not liking the lawman, maybe some small part of the tension in this scene arose from the fact that one man had a real mustache and the other didn’t.
“Tombstone” is currently streaming on Paramount+.