The Longmire star may still get recognized for his iconic role of Branch Connally, but you better believe he’s got something new in the works. Bailey Chase talks going cellphone free, his favorite cowboy hats, and his new period western, Far Haven.
C&I: Do you still get stopped on the street by people who want to talk about Longmire?
Bailey Chase: I do a lot. And it's been interesting. Last year my wife and I moved back to North Carolina after 20 years in L.A. We just wanted to raise our kids somewhere different. And then also with COVID, I feel like people stayed home for a year or two, caught up on their TV. And Longmire's still living on Netflix, and people discovered it for the first time. And also, it's different being out in L.A., and then you go to kind of the real America in North Carolina and find a lot of Longmire fans there. So it was a warm reception for me and my family. It's been great.
C&I: It's funny how, every time a new Western-themed TV series premieres, we still have comments on our Facebook page like, "This is OK, maybe, but it's not Longmire."
Bailey Chase: [Laughs] Yeah. They're die-hards, I tell you. They're stubborn. I think what was unique about Longmire, and why our audience is so loyal, is that it's a bit of a throwback show. Yellowstone's obviously more contemporary. 1883 is a period piece. But Longmire is, I think, something that connected a lot people in the audience to their past, or [what] was going on in their life. Or someone they wanted to be more like — maybe not Branch, but Walt. And in today's day and age of "I" everything and social media — it's nice not to have a cellphone for a while.
C&I: Of course, it was kind of harsh the way your character was written out of the show — killed by his own father.
Bailey Chase: Yeah, pretty cold-blooded. And the irony is, Gerald McRaney is a very sweet man. But he's also a very good actor.
C&I: Now you're filming a period western, Far Haven. If I were sitting next to you on a plane, and asked what you were up to, how would you describe the film?
Bailey Chase: Wow. Well, OK. Far Haven is a movie that's about redemption. It's about staying true to yourself, and everything working out in the end. It's about losing love and finding it again. And there's also a little bit of good versus evil in there.
C&I: What can you tell us about your character?
Bailey Chase: Hunter Braddock has a colorful past. But what really resonates with me — and also resonated with me playing Branch — is that he's true to himself, and he is always doing things for the right reasons. So the reason that I get thrown in prison in this movie ... I objected to murdering innocent women and children while in the Army. So I leave my unit and get branded as a deserter, and then ...
C&I: Literally branded.
Bailey Chase: Literally branded as a deserter. And then there's a time cut to where I'm fresh out of prison and I come looking for my kids.
C&I: What was the toughest nut for you to crack in terms of understanding your character?
Bailey Chase: That's a really good question. I would say the biggest trepidation I had coming into the film was the costume. I was worried. I'd never done a period piece, and this is set in the 1880s. There was something about Branch where I put the boots on, I put the Wranglers on, I put the hat on — and I became a different person. And I've done other roles in between where I just didn't feel like that guy. I didn't feel that different. But here, I put this wardrobe on, and immediately I'm transported in time. I feel like a different person, so that anxiety went away Day One on set.
C&I: Did you pick your own hat?
Bailey Chase: I had a couple of options. This hat in particular — I forget which one, but it was made for either Brooks or Dunn, the country singers, and I guess they never got around to wearing it, so it got handed down to me. And you know what? It's a pretty great hat.
C&I: On some level, is this the fulfillment of a childhood dream? Here you are, playing cowboy and shooting and riding on the same location where John Wayne and other greats made movies.
Bailey Chase: It's insane. We were just shooting some stills out here on the set, and it blows me away that John Wayne was here, Paul Newman was here, Clint Eastwood was here. I mean, it's an "If these walls could talk" kind of thing, the history of it all. And it makes me feel very blessed, humbled, and grateful to have this opportunity.
Far Haven will premiere in spring 2023 on the FAST (Free Ad-Supported TV) Cowboy Way channel. Info is available at cowboyway.tv.