“Longmire” - The Best of Both Worlds
As a dedicated Western genre fan I am always on the lookout for a new voice added to this area of fiction. There have been some masterful writers covering this topic both in film and on the page, so it was with great enthusiasm that that I ran across a new name – Craig Johnson - appearing in the pages of the New York Times Book Review section a couple of years ago. He has created a mythical yet hugely realistic area of the State of Wyoming known as Absaroka County that is kept functioning without too much mayhem thanks to this local sheriff, Walt Longmire.
He rides this 21st century range in his truck capturing bad guys and often accompanied by Henry Standing Bear, a tall, burly member of the Cheyenne tribe’s nearby reservation. Bear is fiercely protective of his tribe and the interaction of its people with the local community and stays on top of events large and small at his bar, The Red Pony. Friends since early school days, Walt and Bear work together and sometimes against one another interests that makes a hugely interesting area of conflict.
Upon reading Mr. Johson’s first book – The Cold Dish, I fell into that world and promptly soaked up every book he has penned I could find. It is a wonderful universe populated by some really quirky, fascinating, ruthless folk that I felt a need to know better.
Thankfully, Mr. Johnson is a prolific writer who has, up to this point, published nine separate books of fiction and three of non-fiction, all set in the same locale. However the best move on Mr. Johnson’s part was to allow the A&E cable channel to showcase Walt’s world via the series “Longmire.” The series began its second season on May 27th and on Monday nights. Check your locale provider for the time.
The “Longmire” producers have chosen to use the same characters from the books, but have not physically replicated them. At first, aficionados of Mr. Johnson’s work from our library book club were in a dither as the characters we had envisioned, did not correspond to the actors creating those images. We grumbled a bit, but after watching “Longmire’s” first season with a careful, critical eye pronounced it a success. The series has made wonderful use of the New Mexico countryside that doubles for Wyoming. Why is it shot there instead of its place of origin?
There is an item known as incentives in a producer’s budget that gives dollar amounts to production companies bringing their projects to the state. New Mexico’s incentives obviously spoke louder than any other contenders.
The actors playing key roles are Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire; a veteran Australian actor with international credentials who is ideal in this role. He looks like Walt, performs like him and has easily slid into his big man sized boots.
Lou Diamond Phillips, a polished actor in both film and on Broadway, plays Henry Standing Bear. Mr. Johnson describes him as an impressively large man. Mr. Phillips does not have that physical magnitude but what he lacks in height, he makes up in a cool, polished performance.
The fiery female deputy, Victoria Moretti, late of the Philadelphia Police Department is played by blonde Katee Sackhoff, who brings an impressive background in both film and television to the role. Not as fiery or as profane in speech as the dark haired cop of Italian descent as described on the page, she is Walt’s staunch ally and handles any task whether on a remote mountain, in a bar, or hustling a top speed down the highway with superb gravitas.
Thank you Mr. Johnson for enabling fans to enjoy the best of both worlds by way of print and television. We like your world and welcome all newcomers. By the way, you can scour the map of Wyoming and not come up with Absaroka County, but there is a mountain range bearing that name in Wyoming.
Since the “Longmire” second season is winding down next week, to learn more about the author Craig Johnson and his books follow him on www.craigallenjohnson.com/. Then to access more information about the television series, contact http://www.aetv.com/longmire/. Craig Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25.
“Longmire” - The Best of Both Worlds