Tom Wopat also stars in the crime drama set to premiere Saturday INSP.
The last time we saw Sheriff Alden Rockwell, the cantankerous but skillful sheriff played by TV icon Tom Wopat (The Dukes of Hazzard) in County Line (2018), he was bound and determined to find the killer of an old friend and fellow lawman. But in the County Line: All In, the sequel premiering this weekend on INSP, Rockwell’s investigation into another murder actually is impeded — for a while, at least — by another law enforcer.
The action begins when a corrupt lawyer, known for representing the worst criminals in the area, turns up dead right on the county line during a round of Revolutionary War cosplaying. Alden, the seasoned sheriff of Maksville County, initially loses the fight over jurisdiction to newly appointed York County Sheriff Joanne “Jo” Porter (Kelsey Crane of Chasing Life), who’s extremely protective of her turf. But after he is unable to shake his suspicion that a local mob boss is responsible for the slaying, Alden follows his instincts and starts working the case — instead of keeping his word to the more methodical Porter that he acknowledges her authority.
Chasing a lead, he crosses the county line, causing hostility. But when another lawyer winds up dead under suspicious circumstances, the trail takes an unexpected and dangerous turn. Both sheriffs realize they must put aside their differences — and work together to track down the killer.
It’s probably not a spoiler to say that Alden Rockwell and Jo Porter survive all the skirmishes and shootouts here since, as anyone who checks out IMDB.com will see, both characters will return in an already-completed sequel, County Line: No Fear, that’s set to air next year. And, yes, Kelsey Crane — wife of fellow actor Nicholas Gonzalez (La Brea, The Good Doctor) — will be back in action as the younger sheriff.
Crane recently spoke with us about her work in County Line: All In, which premieres at 8 pm Saturday, Nov. 19, on INSP, where it will have an encore airing at 10 pm ET Nov. 28. (The movie also is available on Vudu, and the DVD can be purchased on Amazon.) Here are some highlights from our conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
Cowboys & Indians: Kelsey, did you draw on many real-life experiences to play a competent professional who feels like she is being underestimated, or being condescended to, because she was a woman?
Kelsey Crane: That’s a good question. And unfortunately, I think like most females on this planet, we have many reference points to draw from, just by existing in our skin, as our gender. So I definitely could instantly relate — almost in a way you don’t have to conjure up, just in a deep understanding — to what it feels like to be condescended to. It’s like a boiling pot that I don’t need to crank the heat up on. It’s something that really lives within you. And just the human experience alone, not gender specific, of feeling someone’s really not valuing your opinion or listening to you, just because. So that was something for me that was really easy to contact.
C&I: And yet, even when she’s being most abrasive or inflexible about defending her turf, Jo never comes across as totally unsympathetic. At least, that’s how we felt. The way you played her made us think, “Well, OK, maybe she’s going a little bit overboard or overcompensating here — but yeah, we can understand why she might have to overcompensate in her position.”
Kelsey: Well, gosh, I really appreciate that. And if you don't mind, I’m going to take that as a huge compliment because I think that was something that [director Brent Christy] and I discussed, that we wanted her to be likable. And I asked him to trust me that underneath that toughness would be a layer of vulnerability that she’s really trying to cover with this layer of toughness. And that vulnerability would shine through while still not pulling the punches. So we worked on the idea that, usually, anger follows hurt for most humans. We’re usually hurt by something, and then we cover with anger. So I wanted to make sure that Jo’s hurt and all the sacrifices that she had to endure to get to her position were very much alive within her. And then she uses anger and tough talk to hold her own in a boys’ club, which is a coping mechanism that she had well-developed by the time she gets to where we meet her in County Line.
C&I: Sounds like you had a handle on Jo’s psychological makeup. How did you prepare for the nuts-and-bolts of being physically believable as Jo?
Kelsey: I’m really lucky in that my brother-in-law is the president of a security firm. And so I had taken some gun-handling courses before, and I got a two-hour private lesson with an instructor. But right after signing on the dotted line to play Jo, we really drilled some movement, and I videotaped the whole thing. And then he gave me an orange practice gun. [Laughs] Which I was a little nervous about traveling with it in my suitcase only because of the shape. When I was going through security, I thought, “Oh goodness, I hope there's no problem here.”
But I would drill with it at home. When I was learning the piano when I was little — I never got very good, of course, but I really learned the importance of muscle memory and just really doing it over and over again until you can take your fingers down the scale without really much thought associated with it. Your eyes could be up and you could be reading music instead. I wanted to get into that place. So I must have taken that orange classic gun out of my harness and into my hands, I don’t know, hundreds of times. And then on set, I was really lucky in that they had a really wonderful gun safety coordinator on site, and he and I would drill over and over again the movement of it, almost like a dancer. [Laughs] Another thing I’m not very good at, but it’s something I like, so the mechanics were there.
Really, it’s almost the same approach that I think an actor takes to learning their lines, in my opinion. You’ve got to know them like if you got a gun to your head, you could say them backwards and forwards, so that the creativity can come out. And so I felt that way about the movement. I wanted it to feel organic. I wanted to know that you would never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to pull. I just practiced a lot until I didn’t have to think about it.
C&I: Did you manage to avoid any bumps and bruises during the action scenes?
Kelsey: You know what? I found out while filming that I was pregnant.
Kelsey: Yeah. It was very much a surprise. Because my husband and I were about ready to embark on IVF because we hadn’t had much success for over two years.
C&I: Congratulations as you began one of life’s great adventures.
Kelsey: Thank you. I now have a beautiful little boy. A little boy named Leo who was a stowaway on County Line. You would’ve thought that would’ve slowed me down or made me feel vulnerable. But it actually ignited this lioness feeling. I have a daughter as well who’s almost six, and I worked out up until my due date with her. And same with my son. For some reason, I don’t know why, but that made me feel more in my skin and in my body, and more capable and stronger than before. So I loved those action scenes, and I would secretly celebrate with myself. Like, “Look. Pregnant and all, I still got it.”
C&I: Finally, Jo and Alden wind up bonding as participants in a poker game. Who do you think is the better player, you or Tom Wopat?
Kelsey: Well, if you talk to my husband about this, he’s going to have a different answer. See, he’s a really good poker player, and I definitely have been taught several times — but for some reason, it just hasn’t stuck with me yet. I say yet because I’m still hopeful. But on camera, I’m pretty darn good. In real life? I feel like Tom might me, unfortunately, just because I haven’t practiced enough. But I’ll get there, I’ll get there.