Premiering on Paramount+ beginning November 5th is the new Western series ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves,’ which stars David Oyelowo (‘Selma’) as the title character and was created by Chad Feehan (‘Paranormal Activity 4’) and executive produced by Taylor Sheridan (‘Yellowstone’).
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with series creator Chad Feehan about ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves,’ the historical figure it is based on, his research, production challenges, and working with Taylor Sheridan.
You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch the interview.
Moviefone: To begin with, how familiar were you with Bass Reeves and his legend before beginning this series?
Chad Feehan: I was familiar with the mythology of Bass Reeves. I grew up in Texas, I heard stories about him, but those stories were the gun slinging law man pursuing the most hardened criminals in the Wild West. This sort of iconic Black law figure from the era. They sort of implanted themselves in my brain and never left, and they would get reactivated periodically. Recently, Texas Monthly did a big spread on Bass Reeves. Damon (Lindelof) obviously paid a little homage to Bass Reeves in ‘Watchmen,’ but it wasn’t until I first sat down with David Oyelowo, and then based on that conversation scoured the internet, that I really began to understand the breadth of the man’s life and why his legacy deserves to be told in this fashion.
MF: Can you talk about the research you did for this series, and did you learn anything that surprised you?
CF: A lot of things. With the pilot, for example, I didn’t know that Bass was forced to accompany George Reeves into various battles in the Civil War. That was quite surprising to me. I didn’t know that he escaped enslavement and lived amongst American Indians and Indian territory for several years. The notion of reconstruction, that era of American history was a little nebulous to me. So, learning more about that was surprising. So, there were surprises at every turn.
MF: How much of the show is based in facts and how much creative license did you take?
CF: We know that he was married to Jenny Reeves. It’s been reported that she was the love of his life. We knew that he had a plethora of children. Unequivocally, we know that he spoke native languages. David Oyelowo and I are both dedicated husbands and fathers, and what we tapped into that we were able to also understand about Bass to a degree, is by the nature of our professions, we often must leave our family for months on end. It’s extraordinarily painful to do, and it can cause heartache not only for you, but for your loved ones. So, we wanted to dramatize that because we felt as if Bass may have experienced that same heartache of, you have to leave your family for two months.
Related Article: Executive Producer Michael Hirst Talks MGM+’s ‘Billy the Kid’ Season 2
MF: As a showrunner, can you talk about the challenges of making a Western series?
CF: I was involved in every single sort of decision, whether it be picking a location, the design of the Reeve’s house, the wardrobe, the horses. But I had the most incredible collaborators. The wranglers that Taylor Sheridan has accumulated to train these actors and to manage these horses, they’re remarkable talents at what they do. So, I was deeply involved in every step of the way, but at the same time, I had these incredible collaborators and craftspeople who, my job was to tell them the intent and get out of the way.
MF: Finally, what has your experience been like working with executive producer Taylor Sheridan?
CF: I’m incredibly grateful to Taylor for entrusting me with this opportunity. He gave me an enormous amount of freedom and autonomy to craft this narrative and then lead the production. At the same time, there was enormous peace in knowing that I had this backstop behind me, somebody as talented and as successful as he is. So, he would read a script and he would say, “Hey, what about adding a scene like this here?” Not surprisingly, it took a script that sang and made it really sing. During production, he’s built this machine that’s so efficient that makes his shows, and I was a beneficiary of getting to experience that machine and have that machine come on board this show. I don’t think we could’ve come close to doing what we did if this crew that has made all these great Westerns together weren’t at our disposal. Then in post, again, he sprinkled some of that magic storytelling dust that seems endless for him, that he can do time and time again. So, I felt enormous pressure, not only to honor Bass, but to live up to the Taylor Sheridan universe. But I also had great comfort in knowing that that backstop was there to support me.
What is the plot of ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’?
‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ reveals the untold story of the most legendary lawman in the Old West, Bass Reeves (David Oyelowo). The anthology series follows the journey of Reeves and his rise from enslavement to law enforcement as the first Black U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi. Despite arresting over 3,000 outlaws during his career, the weight of the badge was heavy, and he wrestled with its moral and spiritual cost to his beloved family.
Who is in the cast of ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’?
Movies Similar to ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves:’
SOURCE : https://www.moviefone.com/news/lawmen-bass-reeves-interview-series-creator-chad-feehan/