As details emerge for the new western, Far Haven, starring Martin Kove and his son Jesse Kove, we sit down the with actor and former cover star on what he's got coming next.
Cowboys & Indians: Given your enthusiasm for westerns, it’s great to see you in the cast for a new one, Far Haven. Why do you think you’re so fond of the genre?
Martin Kove: I think people need westerns, new westerns. Because of the moral fiber in these movies. Kids need it; we all need it. Maybe the story has to be more sophisticated now. Maybe more sophisticated than Rio Bravo or Red River or The Searchers, even though those were brilliant. But we need it.
C&I: Are you and your son — actor Jesse Kove, who co-stars in Far Haven — still trying to get your own western project off the ground?
Martin: That’s the tricky part. I’m trying to work with my son and find a good western about a gunfighter who puts his guns down. Why he puts them down and why he picks them up again is the great twist, and I haven’t found that yet. But it’s got to be new. It’s got to be fresh. So, the kids who seem to be totally involved in Marvel comic books will let that go, because there’s only so much you can do with a superhero.
Martin Kove for C&I's July 2021 issue
C&I: Do you think there are more dramatic possibilities in westerns?
Martin: The bottom line is, these are stories about us. The reason why you have wagon train stories — and we had Wagon Train with Ward Bond and 35 other westerns on primetime TV in the 1960s — is because America had interesting stories. The people were trying to get to the other end of the country and have a better life. They would read these things like, “Come out west, come to America, get free land in Oregon.” That’s what 1883 was all about.
C&I: The character you play in Far Haven also has a hankering for some land. But he’s not necessarily Mr. Nice Guy settler, is he?
Martin: Well, there’s a backstory I’ve created while working with [co-star Bruce Boxleitner] — and it’s easy to create backstories when you have friends on the show, because you can draw on moments that you’ve had together as human beings. I find that my character, Ambrose Masse, came here when there was nothing here. So did Bruce’s character, so did Bruce’s wife. And we started to develop things.
Illustration of Martin Kove by Raul Arias
Then one day Ambrose went to Boston to get some new clothes, and he was approached by these industrialists saying, “We’re planning to take the railroad through Arizona, through this section, and we heard you live there. We’ll make you a rich man if you can make the area available to us.” From that time on, he thinks big. He thinks alliance, he thinks industry — while the other people in the movie are very happy just being Americans on their little ranches. So how does he get them off their ranches? They won’t leave. They’ve got that integrity we’re talking about. They love the land. So, he employs his men to disguise themselves as Native Americans ... and they shoot everything up and they burn things, and then Ambrose offers to buy the property.
C&I: So, you’re the bad guy?
Martin: [Laughs.] He isn’t a villain, he’s just misunderstood. Ambrose Masse really wants to see progress here, and if he has to resort to that dark side [a la] Darth Vader, it’s okay in his mind. It’s okay if he’s got to get rid of these people living on these ranches so progress can come through Arizona. But, yeah, you have to act the heavy here. You have to allow the script to depict who you are according to the events of the show, rather than be tough with a gun. Actually, I didn’t even want a gun in any scenes. I wanted to be the person who appears to look for the betterment of Far Haven and for everybody else. No one knows that he’s so dark. No one knows that he has this backstory that I told you. Bruce’s character thinks I do, but there’s no proof.
Martin Kove in the film Black Jack
C&I: Did you have a hand in picking out your wardrobe?
Martin: Yeah, yeah. They brought me a lot. I mean, the only guy I know that was more involved in props is Steve McQueen. He loved props. And I love props. It’s why I have a cigar. The thing is, I’ve never played a dandy before. I’ve always played a gunfighter, a wise ass, whatever, but I’ve never had this kind of gear. You want to make sure you have the right ascot. And I’m wearing a Norfolk jacket that was developed back in England. I have an incredible hat. For me, I envisioned a bowler or a derby, but they’ve got me in a different kind of hat completely, and it’s sort of like what the mayor had in Tombstone. It’s just a great wardrobe and I love it.
Martin Kove on the cover of C&I's July 2021 issue
Far Haven will premiere in Fall 2023 on the FAST (Free Ad-Supported TV) Cowboy Way channel. Info is available on cowboyway.tv.
To get your own copy of the Martin Kove July 2021 issue, head to the C&I Shop.