‘Walker: Independence’ cast and executive producers talk about what they want to explore on the show
The cast and executive producers of Walker: Independencethe prequel to the much-loved The CW Walkerheld a press conference for media last week ahead of its Oct. 6 premiere.
I asked the cast and EPs, which consisted of Katherine McNamara, Matt Barr, Justin Johnson Cortez, Philemon Chambers, Katie Findlay, Lawrence Kao, Greg Hovanessian, Gabriela Quezada, Seamus Kevin Fahey, Anna Fricke and Jared Padalecki, what historical moment, event, or something from a western that they love, that they would like to explore in Walker: Independence.
Note to editors: Answers have been edited for clarity.
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Chambers of Philemon: “Heavy question… For me, I really loved it The more they fall, and I’m glad Seamus brought it up. As anyone can tell you, I watch it probably six times a day. But I loved it. They brought characters to life that had no light, that were played by different races, and now they’re more authentic. So I love it, and I would like it to continue.
Katherine McNamara: “Mine is a slightly lighter version. I grew up in the Midwest. I grew up playing The Oregon Trail computer game. I’ve always loved this idea of putting your whole life in a wagon and going west. But there is such a romanticized idea of it. In the pilot, we actually had a historically-accurate sized boxcar for a game and put in a piano and a bunch of things that would have been their life: a bed, a bunch of clothes, some books. It was tiny. You put me and another actor in there; you couldn’t even install the camera inside. We had to find creative ways to go outside. And it really puts into perspective what people went through in those days, just to get around.
Katie Findlay: “The West was strange. It was weird. It was all kinds of people, all kinds of gender presentations, and I think that’s something we see so rarely. Cowboys lived together in domestic marriages that were sometimes romantic and were not. People fled across borders so gay women could marry their wives and pretend to be men because women couldn’t own property. So they hooked up and bought a fucking ranch. I so look forward to having the opportunity to explore it, both through my own queerness and the queerness of others, which seems like a hilarious thing to say. It’s something that’s not often addressed, kind of, the wilderness of self-discovery on the frontier and the kind of refuge that was available to people. I mean, not just different sexualities and genders, but cultures. To find peace or adventure or acceptance or escape or respite from the societal norm of the time. And of course, in westerns, it’s a bunch of old straight white dudes…you won’t see that. So, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to get in there and move around a bit.
Justin Johnson Cortez: “I think for me the historical part that would be really interesting to see is the reservation system at that time in history for natives. A lot of land is taken from them, and they were forced to settle on smaller parts of their own land or be moved to completely new places they knew nothing about. They know nothing about the land, what grows in it, what food is in it…and they were expected to thrive. So that could be a really interesting thing to talk about, Seamus.
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Seamus Kevin Fahey: “We will do it.”
Justin Johnson Cortez: “I think the character of Calian and his relationship with the city right now is a really cool thing that we’re exploring because the landscape was changing so much in those days. And the natives interacted when people came west. So it was really fun to find those relationships and find the truth in them, and that’s something that we haven’t really seen in the past. Often what we write, we have very clear examples. I almost feel like we’re on a new frontier right now with this show and exploring these relationships that I’ve never seen on TV and in movies. And I’m sure they’re out there somewhere, but I’ve never had a chance to see that. So that was a very interesting part of this trip for me.
Matt Bar: “Just really quickly, as the railroad moved west and these little towns popped up, because the railroad started to split, I always liked the idea of what they represented. It was this American dream of like you can do whatever you want in this world. You know, you can build your own life. And that’s what you do with it. And people fought and died for that. And yet they kept coming west, always because of what it meant to people, to have the freedom, to define your own life. And so it sounds romantic, and it is… we still do it today, you know?
Katherine McNamara: “Well, that’s exactly it. To follow up on what you were saying, this story is such a classic western story of people building their own lives and choosing their own independence. But it is such an allegory for today. We are at that point in the world where we have a chance in some ways to start over and in some ways to reset. And I think seeing a city go through that on such a small scale, on a network like The CW, can be an interesting example and allegory for our world today.
Katie Findlay: “Well, because it’s also the intersection of other people’s freedoms, isn’t it? Because you can hold personal freedom, like of course we’re going west. I want my own life. You get there, and suddenly your freedom intersects with the freedom of everyone who was already there. And there’s the potential for damage and harm, and seeing how humans try, fail, try again to live peacefully with each other under various systems that sometimes, let’s face it, really don’t work, and sometimes are working. How there is a lot of tension and often tenderness in these interactions. And I think that’s thematically… what a gigantic idea to fall back on next. This little town full of people in the absolute middle of nowhere, who are all… a lot of them know each other, people are literally in love for the first time in their lives. There is no YouTube; you walk in the middle of the desert all alone. I agree with Kat that it’s kind of a microcosm of a pretty controversial and vast thing about the world we live in.
Laurent Kao: “I think another fun thing to explore, historically, would be the Chinese Exclusion Act. At that time they just stopped allowing Chinese people to come to America and not even own Chinese people. So to live that, to actually explore that if we get to that, would be pretty awesome.
Seamus Kevin Fahey: “Yeah, just to piggyback on everyone. I mean, we all say the word change a lot, and we all say the word identity. And from day zero, day one, the idea of taking moments from history… the coming of the railroad, the Chinese Exclusion Act, different Native American tribes being forced to reserve. All of these historical events are happening. And I always thought it was interesting to be like, what were the tiny little conversations in a city, in the middle of nowhere, that were happening before these huge events that we just read the history books about. And just kind of reduce it to the characters, and focus on the emotional impact of that, and the times that we don’t necessarily think about when we’re in a history lesson. It’s called Independence for a reason too. Everybody’s trying to figure out who they are for themselves while these massive events are happening, and there’s this huge twist of what the country was, what Texas was, what this city could be, and who are these people and how they are going to adapt. I think it’s just combining that, the historical context of that while being excited about building the characters in a way where they’re heading in a certain direction and then you reverse it. You return the script; you cut the rug under people and have an unexpected turn.
Walker: Independence will premiere on Thursday, October 6. Read our spoiler-free review of the pilot here and check out all of our coverage of the show here.
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