Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures became the latest new distributor to join Deadline’s annual The Contenders event when it brought Hostiles to our seventh edition of the awards-season kickoff last month. Joining director-writer Scott Cooper and me in conversation about the Western were co-stars Wes Studi and Q’orianka Kilcher.

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Sitting before a packed DGA Theater full of AMPAS and key guild voting members, Cooper explained why he was drawn to do a Western and how it relates to the current racial cultural divide in America.  He tells me he wanted to start a conversation about inclusion, and this proved to be the perfect vehicle for that. He also talks about the tip-of-the-hat homage he gave to John Ford, particularly his 1956 classic The Searchers, as well as why he thinks his star Christian Bale is the best actor working today.

Studi talks about bringing authenticity to his role of a dying Indian chief, while Kilcher explains how she related to her character simply as a mother bonding with another mother after the loss of her children.

Check out our conversation above.