When A&E decided to cancel “Longmire” after its third season – one of its top scripted series averaging 5.6 million viewers every week – its showrunners at Warner Horizon Television wasted no time in finding the Absaroka County Sheriff’s Department a new home. Fan campaigns (“stampedes”) were organized, its cast and crew took to social media and on November 19, 2014 it was announced that “Longmire” would officially make the jump from cable to Netflix!
When we reached out to Netflix and Longmire’s executives, “Longmire” executive producers Hunt Baldwin and Greer Shephard took some time out of their schedules and talked to us about the upcoming fourth season, which will be released on Netflix on September 10.
Based on the series of mystery novels by author Craig Johnson, Longmire focuses on Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), a Wyoming county sheriff determined to solve the mystery behind his wife’s murder. At his side are close friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), Deputy Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff), daughter Cady (Cassidy Freeman) and several other members of the Absaroka County community.
“There are some big surprises in the first few episodes,” Robert Taylor teases. As viewers may recall, Season 3 ended with several cliffhangers, and the show’s co-creators have been just as eager to resolve them as its fans.
BSG Museum: What can fans of the previous season expect in regards to the style of the new season? What remained the same, what’s changed?
Hunt Baldwin: One of the greatest things about the move to Netflix is that they had already been showing three seasons of Longmire. They knew what the show was, they liked it, and that’s the show they wanted us to make. There’s been no pressure from Netflix to suddenly become gratuitously racy, or violent or profane. And there’s been no desire on our part to change the DNA of this show we love in a radical way.
That said, Netflix isn’t burdened by the same requirements as broadcast networks.
BSGMuseum: What does that extra freedom mean for a show like “Longmire”, where some characters in the Craig Johnson novels had somewhat of a different voice than those characters had in the previous seasons of the show ?
Hunt Baldwin: What it means for our show specifically, is that each episode feels more like a movie. there are no commercial breaks, no hard and fast time limit, and no concerns about the sensitivities of advertisers. So, yes, that frees us up to write dialogue for certain characters with fewer limitations – we no longer have to limit Katee Sackhoff to 3 curse words per episode. There are no artificial breaks for commercials and, mostly, we get to keep all the things in the show that we intended.. In the past we had to sacrifice great scenes, or, often, an entire story line in order to fit into our 43 minute box. Now we can tell more complex stories. And we can dig deeper into the lives of more of our characters.
BSG Museum: How did the move from cable to Netflix affect the crew that was attached to the previous seasons of “Longmire”?
Hunt Baldwin: Any time you take a few months off between seasons, you lose people. They get other opportunities or their personal schedules don’t synch up with our production schedule. Obviously, when you get cancelled, the likelihood that people will look for other work increases. What’s been remarkable about this season is how many people on our crew stuck around. There are people who turned down work in order to wait for us to get good news about finding a new home for the show. So by and large, we have the same team. And that’s huge. Because we’re not a show with a ton of money. We shoot some pretty challenging action sequences, and we film in a lot of remote locations. It’s a difficult show to make. What we’ve learned over the past few years is that it wouldn’t be possible without people who are really devoted to the show and to each other.
BSG Museum: Are there any new writers attached to this new season?
Hunt Baldwin: It’s important to infuse a little fresh blood, so we have brought some new people on board. We have two terrific new writers, Sheri Holman and Boo Killibrew. We also have a new director, Davy Boyd (“Friday Night Lights” and “The Walking Dead”), and a really exciting group of guest actors.
BSG Museum: Any special guest stars you can mention?
Greer Shephard: Actress Ally Walker (“Sons of Anarchy”) plays Dr. Donna Monaghan, a psychiatrist dealing with war veterans suffering from various brain injuries. A bold, smart, independent thinker, she goes toe to toe with Longmire, but with considerably more verbal acumen.
It also wouldn’t be Wyoming if we didn’t represent the energy industry, and the oil rigs and boom towns that are springing up all over the state, bringing money and mayhem. And who better to characterize that dark, grizzled, controversial world than “Battlestar Galactica” alumni Callum Keith Rennie, who slithers onto the scene as slick-tongued Walker Browning, an oil rig worker and supervisor of a battalion of roughnecks who come under fire.
Season 4 will also introduce the widely recognized Native actress Tantoo Cardinal (“Dances with Wolves”) as a mysterious and feared Crow medicine woman.
BSG Museum: Without giving too much away about the fourth season, what are some of the major story arcs the show will explore this season?
Greer Shephard: We are always looking for new petri dishes where crime syndicates can grow and wreak havoc on Walt Longmire. The newly opened casino on the reservation, and Newett Energy’s fields of oil rigs (and lawless oil rig workers) will serve as fresh wellsprings of conflict and crime and criminals for Walt Longmire. We also will continue to explore the gross injustices on the reservation, specifically the ways in which non-natives are still able to avoid prosecution for crimes they commit against natives on the rez. When neither Longmire nor tribal police chief Mathias are able to pursue a crime, what happens? This untenable dilemma will start to put Longmire and his longtime friend Henry Standing Bear at odds.
BSG Museum: What can you tell us about Katee Sackhoff’s character, Vic?
Greer Shephard: Vic is unleashed on Wyoming as a newly single woman, a prospect that is both exhilarating and scary for her. Is she about to learn that the insulation of marriage emboldens people to flirt with ideas that they don’t dare pursue when a marriage dissolves? Or does the collapse of boundaries lead to wild, passionate explorations? Whatever the conclusion, Vic is headed for an emotional rollercoaster filled with destabilizing hairpin turns that leave her confused, excited, jealous, raw… and impulsive.
BSG Museum: Can you talk about your experience working with Netflix on this new season?
Greer Shephard: Working with Netflix has been pure joy; a genuinely creative and fulfilling experience. They granted us permission to make the show we have always wanted to make. It is cinematic in scope and granular in character detail. Now that we enjoy a longer running time without commercial interruptions, we are able to tell fuller bodied stories that delve deeper into serialized character development. Plot twists also occur organically and with greater surprise, now that our storytelling is not artificially forced by commercial breaks. Netflix has proven to be tremendous collaborators. Their ideas are always very thoughtful, and in synch with our vision for the show. They seized our theme of “second chances” and built Longmire’s Season 4 promotional campaign around that central idea. They have also fully embraced our loyal audience and have bent over backwards to reach them and include them in this happy resurrection.
BSG Museum: The question that’s on every fan’s mind… Do you know if Netflix has any plans for “Longmire” after the fourth season?
Hunt Baldwin: We’re not aware of Netflix’s plans, and our shocking cancellation last fall taught me not to ever try and predict the future again. But given how great this past season has been, if Netflix is interested in more episodes, we’re more than ready!
Longmire’s cast also includes Adam Bartley, Bailey Chase, A Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Zahn McClarnon and Graham Greene. John Coveny, Hunt Baldwin, Greer Shephard and Michael M. Robin serve as executive producers on the series, which is produced by The Shephard/Robin Company in association with Warner Horizon Television.
All 10 episodes of Longmire’s fourth season will become available exclusively to Netflix members Thursday, September 10 at 12:01 a.m. PT. Additionally, the first three seasons of Longmire are available to stream on Netflix.
HQ Stills (© Lewis Jacobs/Netflix, used with permission)
We would like to thank the people over at Netflix, and also Executive Producers Greer Shephard and Hunt Baldwin for their time!
You can find Katee Sackhoff on her official site, Twitter and Facebook, also follow Netflix on twitter, and the Longmire facebook page for direct updates on all things Longmire!
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