We tip our hats to the talented actor who has passed away at age 52.
We received the sad news that actor Luke Perry passed away Monday, March 4, from complications after a massive stroke. Best known for his role as Dylan McKay on the hit TV series Beverly Hills,90210, Perry also starred in TV westerns such as A Gunfighter's Pledge, Johnson County War, Angel and the Bad Man, and the Goodnight for Justice movie series. He also had starring roles in theatrical films – including the C&I reader favorite 8 Seconds, in which he saddled up as legendary bull-rider and cowboy Lane Frost.
Upon hearing of Perry's death at age 52, we took a look back into the C&I archives at an 2013 interview with the actor about his Hallmark western Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts. Read it below.
As Luke Perry sees it, the third time really is the charm for John Goodnight, the straight-shooting circuit court judge he’s been portraying in an ongoing series of westerns for the Hallmark Movie Channel.
Goodnight for Justice, the first in the franchise, introduced the title character – which Perry himself created – as a Wild West journeyman jurist whose parents were killed by outlaws years earlier, and who now dispenses justice with eloquence, compassion and, when necessary, lethal firepower. Directed by Jason Priestley, Perry’s co-star in the original Beverly Hills 90210 TV series, the made-for-cable western scored the highest ratings ever recorded for a Hallmark Movie Channel production. Little wonder, then, that two sequels soon were green-lit.
“We’ve really hit our stride here,” Perry says of his third John Goodnight adventure. “This is the movie I was thinking about right from the start.”
So what’s it all about? According to a Hallmark Movie Channel press release:
“Between dealing with difficult defendants and dealing cards at saloons, John crosses paths with a stagecoach under attack. Drawing his gun, he comes to the rescue of the only surviving passenger, a beautiful woman named Lucy Truffaut (Katharine Isabelle), who John doesn’t realize is actually a convicted con artist on the run.”
But wait, there’s more: Lucy doesn’t realize – at first, anyway -- that he’s an honest judge.
The bad news: Lucy is being pursued by Cyril Knox (Ricky Schroder), a wealthy aristocrat who wants her jailed. The good news: Lucy manages to convince John to help her escape – and board a riverboat where passengers are encouraged to indulge in high-stakes gambling.
Luke Perry phoned us here at Cowboys & Indians this week to talk about Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Cowboys & Indians: So what makes this Goodnight for Justice film different than its predecessors?
Luke Perry: Well, I like the action pieces that we were able to get set up. I think we were able to get more bang for our buck in this one than in any other the others. And I love the story with John and the girl. It’s funny. I’ve always said that westerns can be all different kinds of stories. They don’t always have to be guys fighting over horses and cows and Indians and stuff. There’s romance and other things that you can have in the mix. So while trying to stir up this vat, that’s what I came up with.
C&I: Your lead female character is named Lucy Truffaut – like Francois Truffaut, the great French filmmaker who famously claimed, “Women are magic.” Did you intend this as a kind of wink-wink allusion to the late movie director?
Perry: Absolutely. Here’s the thing. When I sat down to come up with this one, the one sort of request that the [Hallmark Movie Channel] had made was that – well, in the past, I hung a guy, and shot a couple of other guys, and beat up a guy pretty badly in the last one.
C&I: Hey, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.
Perry: [Laughs] Well, being the judge and jury and sometimes the executioner, that’s all part of his job. But the Hallmark people said, “Luke, our audience would also like to see you do some romantic stuff.” And at first, I couldn’t figure out what would be romantic about this character so much. But then I thought, when it comes to meeting a beautiful woman -- historically, we’ve seen it -- that’s when we men make our worst choices. While we’re thinking of ways to woo a beautiful woman, they just get into our heads. And I just wanted to do a story about that. And Truffaut knew all about that.
C&I: Folks who are used to seeing Ricky Schroder in good-guy roles – like his character in Lonesome Dove – may be in for a shock when they see his bad behavior here. How did he get involved with this project?
Perry: My producing partner, Ira Pincus, had a previous working relationship with him, and sent the script to him. And, yeah, he is quite the bad boy here. But that’s the name of the game: The badder they are, they harder they fall. And they’re always going to fall, in the name of justice.
C&I: How do you think John Goodnight has evolved over these three movies? Is the character any different than how you originally conceived him?
Perry: He is turning out to be a little darker than I think everybody envisioned at the beginning. And I think that’s because most of this guy’s make-up, and most of his integrity, comes from that bad childhood experience, those bad things that happened to him in the first movie. He’s still touched by that. Which is why I think he’ll stay moving. They keep wanting to set him down in one place, and have him be the judge there. But that’s not interesting to me. This is a guy who has to keep going to a different place time and again.
C&I: Does that mean you’re already talking with folks at the Hallmark Movie Channel about a fourth John Goodnight movie?
Perry: There’s nothing definite yet. So far, though, the movies have done very well for them. [Laughs] And I’ve certainly got ideas for others.
C&I: By the way: Has anyone else who’s interviewed you for this film noticed the Truffaut hat-tip?
Perry: You’re the only one who’s caught it, you’re the only one who’s asked. And I so appreciate it.