Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Is Netflix's The Harder They Fall based on a true story?

Fans are loving the new film starring Idris Elba and Regina King

netflix harder they fall
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
Share this:

There's one film on Netflix that everyone seems to be talking about right now, and that is The Harder They Fall. With its star-studded cast and gripping plot, plenty are enjoying the western movie – but many are also wondering if the story behind the film is based on real life?

MORE: Bridgerton creator reveals why Rege Jean Page was 'smart' to leave show

Before you grab your popcorn and settle down on the sofa to enjoy it, here's all you need to know about whether The Harder They Fall is based on fact or fiction...

WATCH: The official trailer for Netflix's The Harder They Fall

What is The Harder They Fall about?

The synopsis for the film reads: "When outlaw Nat Love discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck is being released from prison he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge.

"Those riding with him in this assured, righteously new school Western include his former love Stagecoach Mary, his right and left hand men - hot-tempered Bill Pickett and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth — and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including 'Treacherous' Trudy Smith and Cherokee Bill, and they are not a group that knows how to lose." Sounds intriguing, right?

MORE: Is new Netflix film Army of Thieves worth the watch?

MORE: Netflix's Army of Thieves stars are dating in real life - get the details

harder they fall 1© Photo: Netflix

Have you watched the film yet?

Is The Harder They Fall based on a true story?

The depiction of the characters in the film are not entirely accurate, but they are based on real people and, although the running plot throughout isn't based on real life, there are some elements of truth.

As referenced in the film, Nat Love was a formerly enslaved person who became a cowboy and wrote about his experiences of being exploited throughout his life. The character of Rufus Buck was also a real person who led the Rufus Buck Gang, which is also depicted in the film.

Other people from history referenced in the film include, Cherokee Bill, Marshal Bass Reeves and Bill Pickett who all existed in 19th century American history. However, the rivalry between the two leading characters has not been proven to be based on real life. So, while the film has elements of history and truth, the production has clearly taken some artistic licence when telling their own version of events.

MORE: Outer Banks stars Madelyn Cline and Chase Stokes split ahead of filming for season three

nat and rufus© Photo: Netflix

The characters in the movie existed in real life

Who stars in The Harder They Fall?

The cast of The Harder They Fall has been a big selling points for film fans. Leading the way is Luther and The Wire star Idris Elba, who plays Rufus Buck, and Loki star Jonathan Majors who stars as Nat Love.

Elsewhere, Zazie Beetzs plays Stagecoach Mary, Regina King plays Trudy Smith, and Lakeith Stanfield appears as Cherokee Bill. There's big names behind the camera as well, with Jay Z acting as Executive Producer.

harder they fall 2© Photo: Netflix

The film has a stellar cast

What are the fans saying about The Harder They Fall?

It's safe to say that fans have been loving the western film. One person tweeted: "#TheHarderTheyFall is a virtuoso bloody revenge western film. From the strong cast, beautiful use of bright cinematography and smooth music and bloody gun fighting action scenes, makes this not your typical western film. Loved The Film A MUST WATCH On Netflix."

Another echoed this, writing: "I have watched #TheHarderTheyFall TWICE and about to watch it again and I see it's number ONE on @netflix and trending on @Twitter Let's goooo @ReginaKing and the rest of this AMAZING CAST."

Meanwhile, a third said: "EVERYONE MUST SEE #TheHarderTheyFall. The illest old western I've ever seen with a sensational star-studded cast and filled with phenomenal, action-packed cinematic scenes @netflix." 

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

More TV and Film

See more