Longmire is about a sheriff who brings law and order to the wide open spaces of Wyoming. But the new A&E series isn’t an old western, even though it has that undeniable classic atmosphere thanks to the titled star Robert Taylor.
Taylor is an Australian actor who was in The Matrix as the shape-shifting Agent Jones. He also played the compassionate Aussie priest who tended a quirky Irish parish in the BBC America series Ballykissangel.
Nowadays Taylor inhabits the role of Sheriff Walt Longmire in the contemporary western. Although Longmire is set in today’s world, it harkens back to a time when a lawman had “decency, honesty and was willing to carry his load and help other people carry theirs. That’s what I really like about this guy,” says Taylor.
The A&E series is based on the popular Walt Longmire mystery book series written by Craig Johnson. And the talented Taylor plays the dedicated sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming.
Also in the cast are Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, and Katee Sackhoff, bringing a very modern sensibility and wit to the show.
Of the dozen or so major productions Taylor has on his credits, Longmire is closest to his heart because he says he grew up watching American cowboy movies. “I’m from a rural part of Australia originally that’s not that far away from the spirit of the American cowboy.”
“People from big, open spaces might have a different accent, but they have similar attitudes about they way they treat each other, the way they live their lives. Our similarities are far more striking than the differences.”
And now Taylor feels like he’s sprung from the soil of Wyoming, although the series shoots in New Mexico.
Taylor is happy that Longmire was compared to the classic Gunsmoke series, as well as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, but says, “I just see Walt as Walt. He may have Marshall Dillon’s qualities, that kind of western stoicism, decency, and honesty, but he’s his own man. And I think that was a pretty common thing through all those old western shows.”
They were men of few words back in those days, and in the show’s episodes the Longmire character says more with a look than with pages of dialogue, and that’s fine with Taylor. He says, “That’s good writing. It’s brave writing to do less, that is a rare thing. And I love that about the show.”
Producer Greer Shephard, the creative force behind both The Closer and Nip/Tuck, says, “There’s something very reassuring about the nobility of the lawman archetype, and we felt that the public needed that in these difficult times.”
Longmire is true to all of its predecessors in the western genre, offering a sheriff with unimpeachable moral steadfastness. Longmire’s integrity and honesty steep the show in the grand tradition of the classic American cowboy.”