Lawmen: Bass Reeves star David Oyelowo talks about honoring the historical figure in Taylor Sheridan’s new series

David Oyelowo joins Paramount+ golden boy Taylor Sheridan for the new western series, which depicts an American legend.

The Taylor Sheridan hit train is chugging along with a fully fueled engine over at Paramount+. Now that Yellowstone is in the showrunner’s rearview, Sheridan has a bevy of shows that the streamer has followed his attention to. This past summer premiered the Zoe Saldana and Nicole Kidman show, Special Ops: Lioness. His new western series which he will be executive producing, Lawmen: Bass Reeves, from creator Chad Feehan, will join the immensely impressive output of projects that Sheridan has on his resume, which include 1923, 1883, Mayor of Kingstown, Tulsa King, as well as the upcoming series Land Man.

The star of the series, David Oyelowo, who portrays the titular character, had sat down with Entertainment Weekly prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike for a reflection on how Lawmen: Bass Reeves will honor the legacy of the American hero. “Bass Reeves was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life at an extraordinary time in America’s history. He was enslaved, he went on to fight in the Civil War, he escaped enslavement during that time, lived with Native Americans for a number of years where he learned a bunch of skills that became applicable when he went on to be a deputy marshal, and had a career that spanned nearly 40 years in law enforcement.”

He continues, “When you contextualize that life with these seminal moments in American history of slavery, Reconstruction, going into Jim Crow, and to have that level of success and notoriety as a lawman is just extraordinary.” Then, he adds, “My goal, my hope, my ambition for this has always been to have an opportunity to contextualize the contribution of Black people to this country in a way that colors outside of the lines of what we have normally seen.”

Oyelowo glows about his experience on this show as he also executive produces, “One of the joys of this show has been populating the cast with truly great actors who can embody the time. There are actors who have something contemporaneous about them, and then there’s actors like Dennis Quaid, Shea Whigham, Barry Pepper, Forrest Goodluck, and Lauren E. Banks who sort of feel like they’ve been here for a long time. And I’m not talking about their age, I’m just talking about that sort of primal feeling.”

There has been an uptick in portrayals of Reeves in recent years. Firstly, Delroy Lindo would wear the lawman’s hat in the Netflix western The Harder They Fall back in 2021. Reeves also served as the inspiration behind Louis Gossett Jr.’s Will Reeves, a.k.a. Hooded Justice character from 2019’s HBO limited series, Watchmen. Coleman Domingo would also portray Reeves in Timeless in 2016 as well as a parody in 2015 with Jaleel White stepping in the boots for Drunk History.

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