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Photo: The CW

Television

‘Walker Independence’ is a gripping Western prequel

The cast and creatives of Walker Independence discuss the upcoming series.

The CW reimagined a popular Chuck Norris led action series from 90s about a Texas Ranger. This reboot, entitled Walker, would have one of the most watched series premieres at the time. As the third season is set to begin next week, the universe is also expanding with the upcoming Walker Independence.

The prequel will cover how the Walker family made the trek out to Texas and follows Abby Walker, a wealthy Bostonian who experiences tragedy during her journey westward. She eventually finds herself in the town of Independence, which is filled with a colorful cast of characters who have their own secrets. Abby is on a mission to find her husband’s killer and bring them to justice.

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We had the opportunity to hear the cast and creatives talk about Walker Independence. They had many interesting things to share from the series’ development, what to expect, and more. Here are five takeaways from their entire discussion.

Finding a Way to Bring Back a Favorite

The idea of the series came about from a decision that executive producers Seamus Fahey and Anna Fricke made on the flagship show. They regretted killing off the loveable rogue, Hoyt Rawlins in the first season. Fahey explained, “so it kind of started with just a text to Anna saying like, well, what if we went back to the first-generation Walkers and, and Hoyt Rawlins was part of the, part of the ride. And a couple texts later and all of a sudden Jared’s on the hook and studio’s excited and it kind of just went from there, and we just built momentum and developed the pitch.”

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Photo: Anna Kooris/The CW

A New Old Character

Matt Barr will be playing the Hoyt from the past on Walker Independence as well. The actor described how this version will be different. ” I always thought of the modern day Hoyt as like a golden retriever with an unloaded gun. And 1800’s Hoyt is maybe like a, like a German shepherd, you know, he’s, he’s nice until you cross him. And then he is, he’s going to bite.”

He continued, “1800’s Hoyt’s more dangerous. I think in the wild west you kind of had to be to survive. So, I wanted to see that sort of DNA in him. But I also liked the idea that you can’t really outrun your fate. And so, there was that consistent kind of recklessness in the Rawlins’ DNA that just, you know, as we meet Hoyt 150 years later, they’re still, you know, still trying to figure things out and get in his own way. Um, and they’re equally charming, aren’t they? I mean, they have to be right?”

A Complex Heroine

Though bringing back Hoyt helped lay the groundwork for the series, Katherine McNamara’s Abby Walker is the star. Like any good protagonist, you want a character with depth. The actress revealed a little bit about Abby. “I think she’s a woman who’s a bit out of her time. You know, she is very well educated, very intelligent, but still somehow finds her in a world where she knows nothing. She has to completely start over her entire life, literally, you know, is gone in the first 15 minutes of our show, and stumbles into this town that is also finding itself.

She continued, “And it’s, it’s such an interesting opportunity to see a woman in this time period have such agency, and to be able to start over on a life that is for her, and to create her own destiny, while also trying to take revenge for the death of the love of her life. And try and find some sense of justice in a world where justice is always a shade of gray.”

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Photo: Anna Kooris/The CW

The New Minorities of the Old West

One thing you will notice about Walker Independence is that it has a very diverse cast. Many of the members felt they had a responsibility to give a new kind of performance to ensure they don’t make their roles one sided stereotypes we’ve seen for the people of color in period pieces in the past. They wanted to showcase themselves fully.

Philemon Chambers, who plays Deputy Sheriff Augustus, recalled one time on set interacting with one of the extras. “It was a, a young black kid on set, he was one of the extras for the day, and his name was Elijah. And he was just so excited to be there…And I just saw the excitement in his eyes. And that’s the reason why I do it. Because I want a little boy to see themselves and say, I can be that. Cause when I was growing up, I didn’t see that in westerns. I didn’t see that in a lot of media. So, for me it is a very rewarding feeling to be here and to do this with these amazing people. That’s it.”

The curious Apache tracker, Calian, is played by the Latino-Indigenous actor Justin Johnson Cortez. He talked about his approach for portraying a Native person. “I just want to make sure we’re doing it in a way that is respectful, authentic, that makes this character feel like a complex human that people could relate to, and not just there to serve plot or serve another character. And a big part of the responsibility for me is to treat the Apache language and the Apache culture, with the respect it deserves. It’s, it’s one of the few times we’ve seen this language on screen.”

 Season 1 Teases

Though Walker Independence is tied to the original, the creatives want to make sure that it can stand on its own. It should be a fresh take that they can keep building upon. But that isn’t to say you won’t see any connections. There will be plenty of Easter eggs to Walker if you have a keen eye and are observant.

In addition, it’s no secret that actors on The CW jump from show to show and make other appearances on the network. McNamara, Barr, and Katie Findlay, who plays Kate, are examples from this series. Fahey confirmed that you can expect other familiar faces to show up this season.

Jared Padalecki, one of the EPs and the star of Walker, elaborated without spoiling any names. “There are some people from shows that also were on CW or WB back in the day, that are just perfect for certain roles. And I know that with Seamus and Anna’s knowledge of kind of the CW/WB lexicon, they probably have a few different actors in mind, they’re writing a few different things, and we’ll be sure to, to try and reach out to them, continue to reach out to them if, if the opportunity arises.”

Don’t miss the series premiere of Walker Independence Thursday, October 6, on The CW.

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