The drama series Longmire has made the move to Netflix, where the 10-episode fourth season will debut on September 10th. Based on the novels by best-selling author Craig Johnson, the story follows Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), who has taken off in pursuit of his wife’s killer. With murder on his mind, things will surely take explosive twists and turns as the events play out and audiences finally get to learn some answers. The series also stars Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman and Adam Bartley, along with guest stars Gerald McRaney and Ally Walker.
During a small roundtable at the Netflix portion of the TCA Press Tour, co-stars Robert Taylor and Lou Diamond Phillips talked about how certain threads will come to a conclusion, playing some of the darker moments, why their characters are a good balance for each other, new characters this season, and that they have both always been big fans of Westerns.
Question: What is Season 4 carrying over from the first three seasons and what’s going to be different?
LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS: What our writers – specifically Hunt [Baldwin], John [Coveny] and Greer [Shephard] – have done is they’ve taken a thread and stretched it out over multiple episodes. In some cases, especially with the death of Walt’s wife, Martha, they have continued to twist it and turn it and keep it compelling and interesting. So, certain threads are going to come to their conclusion in Season 4, but like everything else, there are going to be repercussions and ripples from actions and reactions that are going to play out and present new storylines and new issues.
Will we feel a real sense of closure, by the end of this season?
PHILLIPS: Oh, hell no! We all need a job in Season 5. We’re not closing anything.
ROBERT TAYLOR: There are some very dramatic developments in Season 4. If something is resolved, perhaps the manner that it’s resolved might blow something else apart. There’s a lot of big stuff going on. It’s very hard to talk about it without giving anything away, but there’s a lot of stuff going on. All will be explained pretty quickly.
Walt Longmire is never totally at ease with things. Do you feel that way about him when you play him?
TAYLOR: Yeah, I think he feels things pretty deeply. The death of his wife destroyed his universe and nothing seems to make sense anymore. As much as a guy his age and with his background can be searching for something, he would never admit it in polite company, or in impolite company, for that matter. A lot of that searching is with his friend Henry and the connection he feels with the Native population. He’s just not so sure about anything anymore. Things affect him profoundly. Hurt affects him and he feels people’s pain a lot. He’s not sure how to deal with his own circumstances. He does resolve to do something about it, but ultimately that my not be the right decision.
How do you bring yourself into some of Walt Longmire’s darker moods?
TAYLOR: That’s a good question. Obviously, it’s all about the writing. I find it difficult to explain, but you bring your soul, or a version of your soul and spirit, and you have to render that and deliver that. No one gives you any notes on that. That comes entirely from the actor.
PHILLIPS: I think it’s part and parcel of playing character who are our age. I’ve been around a long time – we both have – and to finally be able to play characters that are mature men who have life experience, and who have baggage and history and mileage, the scripts are all fantastic, but they do rely on us to bring that sense of gravitas to it. As an actor, we’re very fortunate because the longer we live, hopefully the more we learn, the more our minds are open, and the more we’re able to apply having ups and downs, having challenges in life, and having kids to our work, and it enriches our work. Our writers have blessed us by not giving us superficial characters. They put us in these situations where we have to draw on our experiences, our empathy and our compassion as mature human beings to round out who these characters are and how they deal with their choices.
Do you guys feel like your characters are a good balance for each other?
TAYLOR: Yeah. I couldn’t describe it, but I love doing scenes with Lou.
PHILLIPS: It’s always amazing – and this has been true from day one – when you’ve never met each other before, but you’re cut from the same cloth. From day one, there was this chemistry and this bond. Our directors are a little surprised, even directors who have worked with us multiple times, over the seasons. They’ll put us in a room together and do a couple of takes, and then go, “Well, shit, there’s not much more we can do there.” There’s just an ease when we work together.
TAYLOR: For years, I’ve said, “I’m not really interested in any of these roles. I think when I get around 50, it’s finally going to become interesting.” I just wasn’t interested in watching 25-year-olds full of angst. Are you about to die? Is your family about to die horribly? No? You’ve got no problem. Grow up and get over it. Get some skin in the game, kid. I love the restraint in this show. I think we represent a lot of people that age. Everyone these days is unburdening themselves and talking about everything because you’ve gotta talk about your feelings, but most people don’t and a lot of men don’t. We represent that. It almost looks like nothing is happening, but things are really dynamic and changing. There’s a lot of weight in everything.
PHILLIPS: In so much television, the showrunners and writers feel like they have to explain things to the audience, and it’s not necessary. We bring that with us.
Were you guys both fans of Westerns, before doing this?
TAYLOR: Oh, yeah!
PHILLIPS: Huge. Absolutely! I was a fan of John Wayne and [Robert] Mitchum.
TAYLOR: I’ll take Gary Cooper. He’s my guy. He had absolute authenticity. His acting was really pure, distilled, quiet and unadorned. I love that kind of acting. I think it’s disappeared, but it’s starting to come back. It’s the way I like to work, for sure.
PHILLIPS: The Magnificent Seven was pretty amazing for me. I got to work with and have dinner with James Coburn. Ernie Borgnine became a very dear friend of mine. Those were guys I idolized in my youth.
TAYLOR: I worked with Bob Mitchum in the ‘80s, in New Zealand. I played his son. He taught me how to make a martini.
How will the events of this season and the way they play out affect the relationship that Walt has with his daughter?
TAYLOR: It’s a very interesting season for Cassidy Freeman’s character. It’s so hard not to give stuff away. She’s branching off more. She has a lot of challenges and a lot of dilemmas. Opportunities arise in odd places for her, this season.
PHILLIPS: Season 3 was pretty huge for me and Cassidy because she represented me. First of all, I adore that young lady. She’s amazing. Three years in a row, they’ve cut the line, “She’s my goddaughter.” Henry is Cady’s godfather. It’s been written for three years, filmed for three years, and cut for three years. Eventually, that will come out of the closet. But, they created a bond and a unity in last season that’s tested in Season 4 because there are different agendas afoot. That was one of the more challenging aspects of what Henry goes through in Season 4, wrapping my head around this new dynamic with Cady. There are going to be some interesting developments.
Are there any new characters this season that will affect things for your characters?
TAYLOR: Yes, and I can tell you that there are males and females.
PHILLIPS: I’m thrilled because it’s a very Native-centric season. Graham Greene is back. A Martinez, Zahn McClarnon and Irene Bedard will be on. We also introduce a storyline that involves my friend Julia Jones, who I adore. She was in the Twilight series of films, and she is amazing. I have a wonderful arc with her that also involves Tantoo Cardinal, who I also absolutely adore and who I think is probably one of the pillars of the Native American acting community, along with Graham Greene.
TAYLOR: I love Graham. Graham’s thing is to constantly get my name wrong, and he does it on purpose. He’ll say, “Oh, Longfinger.” One day he said, “Stinkfinger,” and it was the best one, ever. People were dropping cameras, they were laughing so much. He does it, all the time. He’s so funny.
Longmire Season 4 will be available at Netflix on September 10th.