“Outer Range”, the new Josh Brolin-Western series led by Prime Video, aims to twist the well-worn genre to its very roots. To present the land of the West in a never-before-seen way, the eight-episode series mixes an element of the supernatural, with stunning results.
“It took a very simple, straightforward genre and then some amazing twists and turns, whether it was metaphysical or whatever you want to call it,” Brolin said. Variety at the premiere of the show at Hollywood’s Harmony Gold Theater on Thursday night. “It’s uncertain because there are so many possible directions, and a lot of them can feel really cliched. But I feel like we kept it grounded.
Brolin serves as executive producer and leads the cast, playing Wyoming ranger Royal Abbott. When Royal discovers a mysterious black hole in his pasture, he and his entire family are sent spiraling. The co-stars of the series Imogen Poots as Autumn, a curious wanderer camping on Abbott’s land. The set is completed by Lili Taylor, Tamara Podemsky, Lewis PullmannTom Pelphrey, Will Patton, Noah Reid, Shaun Sipos, Matt LaurieIsabel Arraiza, Olive Abercrombie, Angeline Morningstar and Dièdre O’Connell.
Brolin hasn’t helmed a TV series for nearly 20 years, after 2003’s “Mister Sterling,” and he wasn’t planning on returning until he received the script for “Outer Range.” The material inspired him so much because the story isn’t about the paranormal; it is excessively rooted in reality.
“There’s an element of the supernatural to it, but I don’t think it revolves around it,” he explained. “It’s not really at the heart of the story. That’s what allows everyone to react, but it’s more about reactions than what happens in the supernatural.
Taylor, who plays Royal’s wife Ceclia, echoed the star’s take on Marvel and “Dune.”
“This sci-fi feels very real,” she explained. “It’s not that far from our own experiences. A lot of things happen with Josh, so it’s like we live with him.
Creator and Executive Producer Brian Watkins explained how he worked to reframe the American West as we know it.
“I grew up in the West, so the story is really personal to me,” Watkins explained. “West is a place where you can walk to the edge of a tree line and feel like you’re looking into another world.”
Teasing the show’s twisted premise, he added, “The supernatural came from the earth itself. It’s always said that the sci-fi in the show isn’t extra-terrestrial, it’s terrestrial. It’s very earthy, it’s very earthy.
Pullman, who plays Royal’s youngest son Rhett, also feels a special connection to the area.
“There’s something really spectacular and mysterious and peaceful and terrifying about the West,” he said. “In this show, we have a lot of philosophical questions being asked in an environment that we may not have seen them in. It’s a perfect type of scene for that.”
Of particular note is the series’ relationship to Indigenous identities. Podemski and Angeline play a lesbian couple on the show, and Podemski’s character, Deputy Sheriff Joy, is the first queer Native American woman to run for county sheriff. Through their work in “Outer Range,” the actors aim to subvert the racist norms that come with traditional westerns.
“The West does not include Indigenous ideas and truths,” Podemski said. “He served to conquer the West. There was a mythology to that. And it’s really a neo-Western who upsets this mythology. I don’t think I could have entered a traditional western world. I fought too hard in my fight for representation on television and in Hollywood. This is the job I’m supposed to do.
Angeline added, “Part of it is definitely recovering and trying to twist the genre. Natives should not only be the riders, but we can also be the other side of these things.
“Outer Range” will launch on April 15 on Prime Video with the first two episodes of the season.
Pictured: Back row (left to right): Albert Cheng of Amazon Studios, Tamara Podemski, Morningstar Angeline, Lili Taylor, Shaun Sipos, Ukonwa Ojo of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, Imogen Poots, Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke, Matt Lauria, Lewis Pullman, executive producers Heather Rae and Zev Borow, Amazon Studios’ Donna Rosenstein and Vernon Sanders.
Front row (left to right): Jeremy Kleiner, Executive Producer of Plan B, Marc Resteghini of Amazon Studios, and Executive Producers Josh Brolin, Creator/EP Brian Watkins, Director/EP Lawrence Trilling, and Robin Sweet.