“Longmire” takes A&E viewers on a rough ride into the Western

There’s an old sheriff in town, and his name is Walt Longmire.

Veteran character actor Robert Taylor — maybe you’d recognize him better wearing the suit and sunglasses he did in The Matrix; then again, maybe not — takes the lead in an absorbing adaptation of Craig Johnson’s acclaimed mystery series. Set on the rugged, unforgiving Wyoming frontier, Longmire follows the middle-aged, recently widowed sheriff of Absaroka County as he seeks to work through his pain and revitalize his life and career. Helping him along are a big-city transplant deputy, Vic (Katee Sackhoff), and his longtime friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips). Walt also is at odds with his daughter (Cassidy Freeman), who is constantly pushing him to move past his grief. Then there’s the matter of the ambitious young deputy in his office — the terrifically named Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) — who is running against him for sheriff.

“I just liked the guy. He’s the kind of guy I’d like to have a beer with,” Taylor said. “He’s old-school, not too technically savvy, and I certainly responded to that being a bit of a Luddite myself. He’s out in this huge landscape on his own a lot, and he’s pretty comfortable in his own company. He’s pretty self-sufficient, and I was pretty attracted to that, this world, and those kinds of people.”

Even though he grew up on the other side of the globe, Taylor said it was in an area very similar to Wyoming, and can relate to how such a place shapes the people who live there.

“Those kind of places engender something in people, they create a quality in people and the way they treat each other,” he said. “It’s languid, there’s room to breathe. I didn’t feel like it was something I hadn’t experienced. I’ve been around those kinds of people a lot.”

Sackhoff, who rose to fame having adventures in deep space with Battlestar Galactica, says she’s enjoying shaking things up with her much more earthbound role.
“I think that she’s probably seen more in her six years on the force in Philadelphia than anyone in the sheriff’s department has in Wyoming,” Sackhoff says. “First and foremost, she’s a phenomenal police officer, so she definitely takes her job seriously, she just finds certain things a bit humorous.”

Things like having to investigate some dead sheep on a mountainside. Of course, that leads to the discovery of a dead human body, which is more up Vic’s alley. And for those BSG fans who might be leery following their beloved Starbuck to a modern-day Western, they should find plenty to like about Sackhoff’s new character.

“Vic would go in guns blazing every time, and that’s how she handles things because it’s worked for her,” Sackhoff says. “Walt goes in and puts the gun down and walks in empty-handed and talks it out. Vic’s like, ‘Um, really? You’re going to talk about it? Can we shoot him? It would just make things so much easier, there’s less paperwork, if we could just shoot him.’”

Longmire premieres 10pm Sunday on A&E.

Photo: Credit: A&E

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