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Yellowstone star tried to get Lawmen Bass Reeves made for eight years

It may seem like Yellowstone spin-off TV series are popping up left and right, but the path to get Lawmen Bass Reeves made was, in actuality, difficult.

David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves in Lawmen: Bass Reeves

The Yellowstone franchise’s Lawmen: Bass Reeves is set to join the stream of Yellowstone spin-offs curbing the pain of the main series’ soon-end.

And while the American frontier is a thriving space in the entertainment industry right now with some of the best westerns of recent memory made in the 2020s, it wasn’t always that way. Not before shows like Yellowstone, anyway.

In fact, the star of Bass Reeves tried for eight years to tell the story of the historical figure. It would have been easy to give up, but he always got back in the saddle. Eventually, meeting Yellowstone series‘ head honcho Taylor Sheridan was the moment of serendipity that made his efforts fruitful.

“I can’t tell you how many times in shooting the show I just found myself walking into either a daydream I had, either as a kid playing cowboys when I was younger, or even as an actor in the eight years I’ve been trying to get this thing made,” David Oyelowo, who portrays Reeves, told Vanity Fair. “Paramount Plus didn’t exist at that time, and I think Taylor Sheridan was still trying to be an actor back then, so it was quite a while ago,”

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“We went out with the project twice over the course of about two to three years, and the first time around, the entire industry said, ‘No, we’re not doing that because no one’s doing Westerns.’ And then the second time around, the entire industry said, ‘No, we’re not doing that because everyone’s doing Westerns.’”

“Taylor came along and indisputably reimagined and reinvigorated the Western,” Oyelowo said. “I talked to him, and he is a real historian around this stuff. At that point, I’d been reading up on Bass Reeves for quite a while—and he was the only person I’d spoken to who knew at least as much, if not more, as I did. His passion for it just started making it feel like this might be a great collaboration. And then soon afterward, Paramount Plus expressed interest and we were off to the races.”

When the Lawmen: Bass Reeves release date arrives, we’ll “watch the birth of America, in a sense, through the personal eyes of one Black man and his family.”

If you’d like further reading, take a look at our guide to the Yellowstone cast and the Yellowstone 1883 season 2 release date. And if you want to see what’s new on Paramount Plus now that Yellowstone is breaking up with you, use our link above to sign up. Alternatively, if you’re looking to find out what new movies are coming soon or some recommendations for the best TV series of all time, we’ve got your back.