The six-night unscripted series kicks off Monday on INSP.
Country star Trace Adkins is maintaining a higher-than-usual profile this week — and not just because of his crowd-pleasing, chart-topping music.
On Saturday, the Louisiana-born singer-songwriter married long-time sweetheart, actress Victoria Pratt (Mutant X, Heartland), in New Orleans — where his friend and fellow country music hit-maker Blake Shelton presided over the ceremony.
And on Monday, Adkins kicks off a six-night run as host and chief wrangler for Ultimate Cowboy Showdown on the INSP cable channel. The unscripted series follows 12 cowboys (men and women) from across the country as they compete, under Adkins’ supervision. for the ultimate cowboy prize — a herd of cattle they can raise and take to market. As the competition continues on INSP over the course of six nights, viewers will watch the strong-willed cowboys undergo a series of grueling physical and mental challenges that will test them individually and as teams.
Ultimate Cowboy Showdown airs Monday through Friday, Oct. 14-18, and concludes Sunday, Oct. 20, at 9 ET each evening.
We caught up with Trace Adkins a few days ago to talk about his INSP show, and some other upcoming projects.
Cowboys & Indians: How did it feel to be ramrod for this project? Or, perhaps more precisely, chief wrangler for competitive cowboys?
Trace Adkins: I got to be honest with you — I was pretty nervous about it. I didn’t know how I was going to handle having to judge people and fire people and all that jazz. That’s not something that comes naturally to me, and it’s certainly not something I enjoy doing. But it had to be done in this competition. Once I got started doing it, I got comfortable with it and just did it as fairly as I possibly could. At least, I thought so. So I think the result was the way it should have been.
C&I: Were you ever worried about trying to do your own best in front of the competitors? Like, did you ever think, “Oh, Lord, please don’t let me fall off a horse while I’m critiquing these people,” or anything similar to that?
Trace: [Laughs] You know what? I didn’t get in any situations, really, where I had to worry too much about that. I ran down a steer or two here and there. But for the most part, I stayed out of the way and just kept up a pretty plodding pace, you know?
C&I: How much time did you spend shooting the series?
Trace: It didn't take but about, I don't know, 10 or 12 days, maybe. That was it. But we put them through the wringer. So it was pretty intense, the whole 10 days or so that they were in this competition.
C&I: What were the hardest days for you during the production?
Trace: I thought the most difficult thing for me was just that last day, when I had to cut loose a couple of really good cowboys. When it got down to the final three or four guys, it was just splitting hairs. They were all just top hands, and that was really tough.
C&I: Do you think shows like Ultimate Cowboy Showdown help viewers gain better understanding and appreciation for just how demanding it is to be a real cowboy?
Trace: I’d like to think so. I don’t have any data to prove the best case, but I would hope that people have a really great appreciation for what these men and women do every day. If you like a good steak every now and then, you ought to thank a cowboy.
C&I: Of course, Ultimate Cowboy Showdown isn’t the only thing that keeps you riding tall before the cameras. You’re accumulating an impressive resume as an actor in independently produced westerns. Earlier this year, you made quite an impact in The Outsider. And you’ll soon be seen in Badland alongside Bruce Dern, Wes Studi, Kevin Makely and Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino. I know you’ve often been critical of your acting, but do you find you’re enjoying it — and getting better at it — the more you do it?
Trace: I really do get a kick out of it. I’ve got a couple more projects that are coming up, so those opportunities continue to come along. I’m starting to get better parts and better films. I’m really enjoying the whole process, and hopefully I'm getting a little better at it. So I’ll just continue to do it because I really, really do enjoy it.
C&I: For Badland, you worked with Justin Lee, who directed a couple of other indie westerns — A Reckoning and Any Bullet Will Do — just last year. What was it like to work with him?
Trace: I was very impressed. He was great to work with, and he was very confident. You could just tell he knew exactly what he wanted, and exactly the shots that he wanted, and he didn’t waste any time trying to figure out what he wanted. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and everything went quickly, smoothly, and I really enjoyed working with him.
C&I: One final question about Ultimate Cowboy Showdown. I know you can’t reveal anything about how things turned out for the competitors. But would you say we’re in for some surprises?
Trace: [Laughs] Yeah, I think probably so. Actually, I was surprised myself several days. So, yeah, I think there’ll be some twists and turns that people won’t see coming.