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Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen, Bernadette Peters & James Paxton Board Adam Rifkin’s ‘Last Train To Fortune’

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EXCLUSIVE: Malcolm McDowell is saddling up with James PaxtonBernadette Peters and Laura Marano for Adam Rifkin’s Western Last Train to Fortune.

Last Train to Fortune also reteams McDowell with his former wife, Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen, the duo previously starring together in the 1979 sci-fi drama Time After Time and the 1983 Martin Ritt drama Cross Creek.

In the pic, McDowell plays Cecil Peachtree, a stuffed-shirt schoolmaster who misses the last train to Fortune and meets an outlaw named Dooley (Paxton), at which point they strike a deal: The gunslinger will ride the book-loving Cecil to Fortune in exchange for his teacher’s stipend awaiting him. Along the way there are gunfights, jailbreaks and saloon gals, and our mismatched heroes form an unlikely bond. The pic, which is produced by Michael Gerstein, Paxton, Matt Williams, Rifkin and Brad Wyman (the Oscar-winning Charlize Theron drama Monster) is said to be in the spirit of True GritButch & Sundance and Once Upon a Time in the West.

Last Train to Fortune has a unique and poignant backstory. The Western was written by Rifkin’s mother, Michele Rifkin, 37 years ago, and was intended to star the late Bill Paxton in the role of Dooley opposite McDowell. Frequent McDowell collaborator Lindsay Anderson was set to direct. Sadly, Anderson passed away before production was to begin.

Cut to 2017, the four longtime friends Rifkin, Wyman, McDowell and Paxton were about to try again, this time with Rifkin at the helm. But just as pre-production was slated to begin, Paxton died unexpectedly. In the years that followed, Rifkin, Wyman and McDowell grew closer to Bill’s actor son James. At a recent lunch, everyone decided the time was finally to move ahead with the movie, with James stepping into the role originally to be played by his father.

Rifkin tells Deadline, “I say with utter confidence this is one of the most powerful performances Malcolm McDowell has given in his storied career. And James Paxton is a revelation.”

McDowell adds, “Peachtree is one of the most fun and satisfying characters I’ve ever played. Plus, the theme that we’re never too old or too young to change, is universal. The story is sweet, funny and heartfelt. I’ve waited 60 years to do a Western so I’m thrilled my first one gets to be Last Train to Fortune!”

Paxton says “Excited to be working with a master like Malcolm McDowell, we’re having a blast. I’ve also been a longtime fan of Adam Rifkin’s and am over the moon to be working with him as well.”

Last Train to Fortune also stars Mehdi Ajroudi, Lee Arenberg, Marshall Bell, and M.C. Gainey. It is financed by Future Artists Entertainment and Intention Forward Productions.

Rifkin previously helmed Burt Reynolds’ final film The Last Movie Star, as well as Detroit Rock City and The Dark Backward.

McDowell was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor – Feature Drama for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. His recently starred opposite Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in Moving On; opposite Mark Wahlberg in Father Stu; as well as in Bombshell, Cat People and O Lucky Man!

Steenburgen’s feature credits include Nightmare Alley, Book Club and its upcoming sequel Book Club: The Next Chapter, Step Brothers, I Am Sam, Nixon, Philadelphia, Ragtime and Goin South. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1981 for Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard.

Peters is a two-time Tony, three-time Drama Desk Award winner and three-time Emmy nominee. She recently starred in Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick…Boom!, and on series Smash, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle. Feature credits include The Jerk, Pennies From Heaven, John Huston’s Annie and Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie.

Paxton’s credits include Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the series Eyewitness and the 2021 feature The Cleaner.

Marano is the star of Netflix’s The Royal Treatment, The War With Grandpa, Saving Zoe and Superbad. She is known for starring in Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally.

McDowell is repped by Chris Roe Management. Paxton is repped by UTA and Authentic Talent and Literary Management. Peters is represented by WME. Steenburgen is represented by Entertainment 360, UTA and Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman. Marano is repped by Verve, Luber Roklin and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox.

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