Illustration: Jonathan Fehr
Illustration: Jonathan Fehr

Kim Coates reflects on his time filming Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story and looks ahead with his upcoming Netflix show Godless.

Cowboys & Indians: How does it feel to be back in the saddle on a couple of western projects after seven seasons of riding Harleys on Sons of Anarchy?

Kim Coates: I don’t think there’s a finer genre than westerns. I’ve been so happy and lucky to have been in Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbor. I’m a huge troop guy. I’m very anti-war — but pro-troop, like, the most. But I’m even happier that westerns are coming back. Because, really, there’s nothing like being able to get back on a pony. Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story was a lot of fun. And Godless — man, that’s massive. It’s a six-month shoot, for a six-part Netflix miniseries.

C&I: Just how rough is the riding in that one?

Kim: I’ve got a couple of scenes where there’s a Gator, which is a vehicle with a camera that can go about 50 miles an hour over every kind of terrain. Me and my gang, about two weeks ago, we went out with the second-unit crew, and shot a scene about six times. And each time, I’m riding, like, flat out. The real cowboys came to me after that was over, and said, “Damn, boy, you can ride.” And let me tell you, that’s the biggest compliment you can ever get from a real cowboy: “Damn, boy, you can ride.”

C&I: And when did you learn to ride?

Kim: I started riding motorcycles and horses about the same time. I’m from Canada, and my uncle had a beautiful farm — he still does — out in Biggar, Saskatchewan. I was on the farm at a very young age, learning to ride motorcycles and horses. But I have to admit, I didn’t really learn how to ride until I was with the late, great Christopher Reeve on Black Fox, a big CBS miniseries, in 1995. This was before the tragic, tragic accident that paralyzed him. And the terribly ironic thing was that, man, he was like a gazelle on a horse. Riding with him was unbelievable.

C&I: Black Fox was your first western?

Kim: That was the first one I did. I really trained for that one. And it really stayed with me. I still like to think I’m smart enough so that, whenever I get cast in a western, the first thing I do is hang up the phone and go out into the country and get on a horse. Just to get that nice little blister in the back of your bum and get those heels down and feel the energy of the animal. The horses feel the energy of the rider. If you’re tense on a horse, that horse is not going to listen. [Laughs.] I know that.

C&I: In Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story,you costar with Trace Adkins, who plays the title role. He’s a country music star — but he’s sure racking up a lot of acting credits in westerns.

Kim: Oh yes. First of all, I don’t know anyone with a deeper, more beautiful voice than his. I was already a fan of his music, but I was not familiar with his work in front of the camera until we did this. And let me tell you: He was so ready to keep learning as an actor and not afraid to fail. And when he gets on that horse, he’s 7 feet tall — well, OK, he’s not that tall, but he seems like it. He just takes one little step, and he’s on the pony. He’s galloping. And he knows how to use a gun.

C&I: Is it true that you’re the villain of the piece?

Kim: Well, the nice twist about this movie is, you have me as Calhoun, who starts off as a good guy. The greatest guy in the West. He’s a stagecoach driver. He gets shot by Trace, who is Stagecoach Jack, the baddest stagecoach robber in the day. I don’t want to give it all away, but this story really is about redemption, forgiveness, and revenge. My guy becomes a U.S. marshal, and he’s on the biggest course of revenge in the history of westerns. He’s not going to give up until he finds Nathaniel Reed, who used to be Texas Jack — who retired from being an outlaw, and now has to pick up his guns again.

RIDING TALL: Kim Coates appears in Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story, now available on digital plat-forms and coming soon to DVD, and Godless, set to premiere later in 2017 on Netflix.

From the January 2017 issue.