“Yellowstone” co-creator Taylor Sheridan’s latest series, “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” is about the legendary trailblazer known for being the first black deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi river.
“As a child, and I think most people’s experiences with Bass – you hear about this badass gunslinging lawman, pursuing the most hardened outlaws in the West,” showrunner Chad Feehan told The Post.
“He had 3,000 arrests. But his backstory was shocking to me.”
“Lawmen: Bass Reeves” stars David Oyelowo (“Selma”) in the title role,with Donald Sutherland as a judge, Dennis Quaid as deputy US Marshal Sherill Lynn and Shea Whigham as George Reeves, the man who enslaves Bass at the beginning of the show. The historical drama premieres Nov. 5 on Paramount+.
“Working with David has been the highlight of my career,” said Feehan. “David is not only the most dedicated craftsman that I’ve ever been around, but he’s the most graceful human being. It’s remarkable to watch somebody with that much God-given ability, as an actor, but who also has incredible grace as a collaborator.
“And, I grew up in the ’80s, so to work with these cinematic heroes of mine [Donald Sutherland and Dennis Quaid], from when I was a child was a trip.”
Although Sheridan’s name on the show might generate expectations of another “Yellowstone,” Feehan (“Ray Donovan”) said that he had no thoughts of imitating the hit series.
“Didn’t cross my mind, to be honest,” he said. “I was purely guided by telling the best story I could tell, and by honoring Bass Reeves.
“Taylor and I have been in the same orbit for many years. He recommended me to David [Oyelowo, who is also an executive producer on the show]. I’m incredibly grateful to both of them for entrusting me,” he said. “Taylor gave me a lot of freedom and autonomy to not only tell this story, but [to] produce the show. He came in at key moments and sprinkled some magic storytelling dust for us.”
For instance, Sheridan suggested a scene in the pilot where Bass has an emotional reunion with his wife, Jennie (Lauren E. Banks), he said.
“That was pitched by Taylor, and it ended up being one of my favorite scenes in the episode.”
The story begins in 1862, when Bass Reeves is enslaved and fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
“For me personally, and for the other writers, the idea of an enslaved man being forced to ride into various battles in the Civil War, on the side of the Confederacy — then to escape enslavement, and go live amongst the American Indians — that was the most exciting inciting incident I’ve heard of for a character,” said Feehan.
“It was an easy and obvious choice, where to start this story. So, I knew that was the beginning point.”
The pilot has some moments of gory violence in the battle scenes.
“I’m going to steal a quote from David himself, which is ‘You have to go into the dark for the light to shine,’” said Feehan.
“We didn’t want to shy away from the brutality of war, or the brutality that Bass Reeves encountered on a daily basis, not only during his time of enslavement, but his time of being a deputy US Marshal.”
The series was filmed in North Texas and was not an easy shoot, he said.
“We shot in January through May. The weather elements were extraordinarily difficult. We had ice storms, extreme heat. The locations which were absolutely necessary for the show were often difficult to get to, sometimes we had to drive three hours.
“It was a grueling shoot,” he said, “but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
This story originally appeared on NY Post