David Morse and Ryan Hurst Talk WGN’s ‘Outsiders’ Season Two
David Morse and Ryan Hurst Talk WGN’s ‘Outsiders’ Season Two
by Brad Balfour
January 31, 2017
Just like its name, the WGN series “Outsiders” is definitely something that engenders risk; it, so to speak, sits “outside” of expectations. Think about it, a weird community in the hollers of Kentucky resists efforts to corral them under the conventions of the local law while keeping their clan together.
“Outsiders” tells the story of this family clan, the Farrells, who’ve been in rural Kentucky long before the modern world had interceded. Living off the grid and outside of the conventional law on their mountaintop enclave, they protect their world from societal intrusion and defend their way of life using any means necessary. A struggle for power and control ensues in these rugged and mysterious hills of modern-day Appalachia, both within its insular community and from the conventional world beyond it.
The ensemble cast for “Outsiders” includes: David Morse as Big Foster, Ryan Hurst as Lil Foster, Thomas M. Wright as Sheriff T. Wade Houghton; Gillian Alexy as G’Winveer; Kyle Gallner as Hasil; Christina Jackson as Sally-Ann; Joe Anderson as Asa; Francie Swift as Haylie Grimes; and Rebecca Harris as Ledda.
How do you create characters that audiences would identify without them become a parody? That was the challenge faced by both creator/executive producer/writer Peter Mattei and Executive Producer Peter Tolan. But with intriguing story lines, a set of complex characters and a locale rife with a history of its own, the show has found a large enough audience to launch a second season this January.
Recently, Blackfilm.com spoke with David Morse and Ryan Hurst regarding their characters in Season 2.
Previously, the Farrell family patriarch Big Foster was shot and left for dead. Certainly it doesn’t hurt to have him be played by such a craftsman as David Morse. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Morse studied at the William Esper Studio after high school and went on to star in the television film “Hack.” In 2002, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Horse Awards for the crime-drama “Shuang Tong.” In 2007, Morse appeared as the creepy Mr. Turner in “Disturbia,” starring Shia LaBeouf. His other notable films include “The Negotiator,” “The Green Mile,” “12 Monkeys” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight.” Morse was also seen in acclaimed Emmy nominated “Treme” and received Emmy noms for his work as George Washington in the HBO mini-series “John Adams.”
In this set of one-on-two pairings he’s joined by Ryan Hurst — “Lil Foster” — who provides a contrast to the headman. Considered a gentle giant, he’s determined to be his own man. Hurst previously had established himself as Opie Winston on the hit series, “Sons of Anarchy,” and was seen regularly in “Bates Motel,” “Medium,” “King & Maxwell” and “Wanted.” He also starred in “Taken,” a Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi miniseries. The actor got started in film opposite Denzel Washington in “Remember the Titans.” He also appeared in “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Ladykillers,” “We Were Soldiers,” “Patch Adams,” and ‘Rules of Engagement’ with Samuel L. Jackson.
You’re the father figure and son, what do you do to feel familial?
David Morse: In terms of feeling comfortable with each other as actors?
Ryan Hurst: Lots of hot tubbing. That was fun.
You’re also figuring our your relationship with your characters. Do you get together to figure that out?
DM: It’s in the script, that’s just there as a given and we give ourselves over to it naturally. I think just being with each other goes a long way. We spend a lot of time together on the set and we got a good feel for each other pretty quickly and it just grows as you do it.
RH: David was attached to the project before I was. I’ve played someone’s son before, but when I heard he was attached I wanted in on the project. It was the first other actor I saw that I thought even I would believe I was their son. So there’s a resonance there.
Have you any comments on your own sartorial qualities — your hair and beards.
RH: I do his hair, and he grooms my beard, that’s what we do every morning.
DM: When I was first cast, we didn’t know what the look of the Farrells was going to be. So I did something — “True Detective” — where I had long hair so I sent a picture to the producers and they thought it was great. We needed a look so when people go into town and say, “These are the Farrells,” they know it when we walk in. As far as tattoos, this man is responsible for the work with tattoos. From all of us blooms these rituals and things as we do this first season.
Both of you have done series and films where you play outsiders. Did that help inform you?
RH: Doing the first season one of the things that helped us is that a biker gang is like a secret society and there’s going to be things, be they handshakes or gestures or sayings, that delineate us from them. That was a conscious effort on all our part. The day we were supposed to shoot Lady Ray coming into the barn, David said, “I think we should have some type of gesture, or bowing to her.” So it was David, and me, and Kyle, and we sat there and went “what about this? Or this?” And David was like “what about this” and we went let’s do that.
DM: I am drawn to people who are outside what feels like the normal world [anyhow]. It’s much more interesting to be out there. And that’s part of what we’re all drawn to in this, the out there, it’s not familiar.
You two have a particular arc with its own special dynamic. How did that evolve and interweave?
RH: I can’t tell you too much about how their relationship evolves, but what I can tell you is that Li’l Foster is very isolated from everybody else and in a different way that lends him an opportunity to see who he is. Our relationship together I can’t really…
DM: He being so abused by my character in so many different ways over the years, he is the one who is sent to find me. That connection is deep, and there’s a lot that comes from it over the course of the season.
Season 2 First Look