Lili Taylor (‘Outer Range’) on the intricate plot twists and mysteries of genre-bending sci-fi Western: ‘There was a rhyme to the reason’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I loved the collaboration,” admits double Emmy nominee Lili Taylor (“Six Feet Under,” “American Crime”) about what she most valued about working on Amazon’s genre-bending drama “Outer Range.” “We were there for about eight months during Covid and it sort of felt like an outward bound; like a camp, so we were all bonded,” she proclaims, adding for our recent webchat, “and I loved the elements, I think the elements were a character in the show; the wind, the vistas, the heat.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Created by Brian Watkins, the neo-Western sci-fi drama stars Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (“Milk”) as Royal Abbott, a tough-as-nails Wyoming rancher who discovers a mysterious otherworldly black void on his ranch that appears to be some kind of time-travelling portal. Taylor co-stars alongside an impressive ensemble cast that features Imogen Poots, Tom Pelphrey, Tamara Podemski, Lewis Pullman, Noah Reid, Shaun Sipos, with Will Patton portraying the patriarch of the rival Tillerson family who own the ranch next door and who are after Abbott’s ranch and that mysterious all-powerful black void.

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“Outer Range” is a dazzling combination of modern-day Western and a heart-pounding thriller full of family drama, bloody rivalries and the supernatural. It boasts all the bells and whistles that audiences have come to expect from the Wild West — sweeping vistas, unforgiving landscapes, wildlife and no-nonsense cowboys and ranchers — within an often confounding sci-fi mystery, in the vein of other TV hits like “Lost” and “Dark” crossed with “Yellowstone” and “Justified.” While Amazon Prime Video is yet to announce a second season, there are so many unanswered questions from the freshman outing that fans remain hopeful that the Abbotts and Tillersons will be back before too long.

The series rewards viewers that are patient and that are paying attention to the details, having faith in the audience that we’ll be willing to go along for the ride. Taylor admits that there were moments during production when even she wasn’t sure about certain narrative plot points and the show’s overriding mysteries, but that Watkins and the writing team so valued the actors that they were given some opportunities to have a say about what their characters would do in certain pivotal situations. “I thought there were things that I was scratching my head about, but I saw there was a rhyme to the reason,” she says. “Then there were some times that there was something that maybe I didn’t exactly buy and then they were open to changing it, you know to working on it, like the bear scene, there was a lot of stuff with the bear that we needed to work out,” Taylor explains of the crucial moment in the seventh episode where Cecilia is attacked by an enormous female grizzly bear. Cecilia shoots the beast dead, with tears in her eyes as two mothers have this reckoning with each other, as Cecilia watches over the bear as it takes its last breath. Shooting the scene opposite the stunt actor that would be replaced with a CGI bear in post-production, Taylor recalls that “they had me shooting the bear unprovoked. I said ‘absolutely not, there’s no way, she just would not do it,'” she reveals, adding, “I’m like, have this guy come at me please, or I won’t shoot! So we worked it out, because yeah it’s like, they listened to the actors!”

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