“It Felt Like Old-School Hollywood”: THR Presents Q&A With the Cast of ‘Outer Range’

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A lot has changed since Josh Brolin last made television two decades ago, but it turns out he was perfectly suited for the streaming era.

The 54-year-old actor found exactly what he was looking for and then some by way of Amazon Prime Video’s Outer Range, a neo-Western family drama with a sci-fi center that is often elevator-pitched as “Yellowstone meets Lost.” Brolin plays Royal Abbott, a ranching family patriarch who discovers a shimmering black void on his Wyoming property that seemingly functions as a portal through time. Concurrently, Royal has to contend with numerous threats to his family and his land as he struggles to maintain both.

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Brolin, who grew up on a ranch and owns one to this day, knew that the Brian Watkins-created series would stimulate him creatively, but the deciding factor in his potentially multi-season commitment was Amazon Studios’ enthusiastic backing throughout production and marketing. “TV is very different now than it was when I was doing it [in 2002-03]. It doesn’t feel like so much of a conveyor belt. There’s time. There’s money. [These big companies] have access to finances that can lend to a better look,” Brolin said during a recent THR Presents panel, powered by Vision Media. “These companies are very good at letting creative people be creative.”

Brolin was joined by Outer Range co-stars Lili Taylor, who plays Royal’s wife and family matriarch, Cecilia Abbott; Imogen Poots, who portrays a mysterious traveling poet known as Autumn Rivers; Tom Pelphrey, who brings Royal and Cecilia’s eldest son Perry to life; and Tamara Podemski, who takes on small-town Deputy Sheriff, Joy Hawk. The cast quickly learned they needed to be agile, as Brolin wouldn’t hesitate to scrap a given day’s pages if a scene wasn’t coming together in a satisfying way. In fact, some of the series’ most memorable moments were a result of improvising on the day. “One reason this was so special is that it felt like we were doing that every other day, if not every day,” Taylor says. “That is resilience. That’s grit. That is adaptability, which is all the stuff we needed to survive. It’s hard to be flexible even though it’s the best way to be. It takes trust, and we trusted each other.”

Added Podemski: “And there’s even the farthest extreme of actually shooting something and then realizing three months later that it doesn’t work at all. So we’d [go] back to reshoot it, and I’m very grateful for that commitment to story and to character.”

While the series was set in Wyoming, Brolin felt a major case of déjà vu as his character was being hunted on the same Las Vegas, New Mexico streets that Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) used to pursue Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss 15 years earlier in the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. “It was a very strange thing. In a weird way, it’s kind of Llewelyn 20 years later,” Brolin admits. “I don’t know how similar the characters are, but the setting and the situation were very similar.”

Added Poots: “It felt so wild. It felt like an entirely different show by that point. In the corniest and in the best sense, it felt like an old-school Hollywood setup.”

But after eight months of experimenting, that particular shootout sequence was when Brolin felt like they’d not only figured out the show, but also the characters. “Everything was a big question-mark, but at that point, everything really started to come together,” Brolin recalls.

To hear the Outer Range cast discuss season one’s many twists and turns, and how they approached those revelations in their day-to-day, watch the full panel interview above.

This edition of THR Presents is brought to you by Amazon Studios.

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