"I've always had a hankerin' to make a Western," Ron Howard told the DGA member audience. But Howard was not without his reservations on tackling this genre: "Whenever I read scripts, and it came to the cattle drive scene or a shootout scene, I would feel that there was no way I was going to be able to compete, and it would be hard not to satirize it unintentionally."
Ultimately, it was the non-Western aspects of the project that drove him to it. "I felt that when I read this script, it didn't depend on the setting; it just utilized the setting well. The themes were original, and character relationships were original, for the genre. And even the crime, which like The Searchers, involves a girl being taken, is sort of where the similarity ends. I just felt it [The Missing] had a chance to be something unusual."
The characters in The Missing not only have to contend with each other, but also the brutality of their surroundings as well. To convey this, Howard decided to incorporate the sometimes harsh and erratic weather conditions into the actual production. "I wanted to do it in a specific time because I really wanted to shoot when we could function, but I knew it was going to be volatile."