David Oyelowo brings justice to the Wild West in Paramount+’s first look at Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming Yellowstone offshoot anthology series, Lawmen: Bass Reeves.
Oyelowo, also an executive producer on the series, stars as Reeves, the real-life former slave turned law enforcement official who captured more than 3,000 of the most dangerous criminals in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma) during the post-Reconstruction era. A teaser clip and images offer a first look at Oyelowo as the legendary lawman, as well as glimpses of Dennis Quaid as Sherrill Lynn, the US deputy marshal who recruits Reeves, and Lauren E. Banks as Jennie, Reeves’ wife.
Demi Singleton, Forrest Goodluck, Barry Pepper, and Donald Sutherland also star in the eight-episode season, which was co-executive produced by Sheridan and created for television by fellow EP and showrunner Chad Feehan. Shea Whigham and Garrett Hedlund guest star.
Despite being a western fan, Oyelowo admitted in a recently published interview (conducted prior to the actors’ strike) that he was initially unfamiliar with Reeves’ story. “I had no idea who he was,” he told Vanity Fair. “Within a very cursory Google search, I couldn’t believe I didn’t know who he was — and that a myriad of TV shows and films hadn’t been made about him already, considering the legendary nature of what he had done. That was the beginning of the obsession with trying to get it made.”
Reeves has popped up onscreen in recent years, though not in the same breadth as the upcoming Paramount+ series. Delroy Lindo played the lawman in 2021’s The Harder They Fall, while Jamal Akakpo portrayed an actor playing Reeves in an episode of 2019’s Watchmen. Colman Domingo also played him a 2017 episode of Timeless. Lawmen will open with Reeves’ life as an enslaved man forced to fight alongside the Confederacy during the Civil War prior to his escape.
Lauren Smith/Paramount+ David Oyelowo on ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’
Kwaku Alston/Paramount+ David Oyelewo and Lauren Banks on ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’
Emerson Miller/Paramount+ David Oyelewo and Shea Whigham on ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’
Emerson Miller/Paramount+ Lauren Banks and Demi Singleton on ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’
Lauren Smith/Paramount+ David Oyelowo and Dennis Quaid on ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’
“His very existence questions the nature of justice,” Oyelowo mused. “If we can now say that the enslavement of people was unjust, then freeing yourself from that unjust circumstance, can that truly be deemed unlawful? I think that’s one of the biggest themes of the show. This is all playing out at a time that in many ways defines who and what America is. We watch the birth of America, in a sense, through the personal eyes of one Black man and his family.”
Lawmen: Bass Reeves premieres on Paramount+ this fall. Watch the teaser clip above.
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