It’s a fascinating, little-known story about an Old West legend who was born in New York City to Irish immigrant parents and died at the hands of lawman Pat Garrett at the age of 21.
The Tudors and Vikings creator Michael Hirst has written and produced the eight-episode series, which airs new installments every Sunday night.
Kathleen, Billy’s mother, is played by Eileen O’Higgins, while Jesse Evans, the Seven Rivers Gang’s powerful leader, is played by Daniel Webber.
In Blyth’s mind, these characters were responsible for shaping Billy into the man he is today, good or bad.
A recent Zoom interview with Blyth revealed that “he’s so complex in this version of the story, which I don’t think we’ve seen before,” according to the actor.
That everyone thinks they know who he is “really hooked me in and made me desperate to play this character,” said the actor, laughing.
“He’s a man of many facets and faces. As a result of Michael’s decision, “he dares to go a lot deeper” with this iconic figurehead, he says.
For example, he was fascinated by Billy’s close relationship with his mother, the real Kathleen, and went so far as to pay his respects at her grave as he prepared to play the screen version of her boy during his preparation for the series.
There are notes from women in New Mexico saying, ‘Thank you for inspiring me,'” Blyth said of the grave.
The actor said he hopes that Hirst’s impeccable research, which was unexpected, as well as factual flourishes and well-drawn characters, will make for intelligent, thrilling entertainment for the audience..
Although the myth and legend are still present, Blyth explained that “he explains why and explains why that is worth paying attention to” rather than simply cutting them out.
As Billy’s portrayer put it, “Billy is this incredibly inspiring character.” There are so many different aspects to this character that make it difficult to know what to believe about him. He is a survivalist, a killer, an artist—all of these different things that make the scales constantly shift when you think you know who he is.”
Kathleen struck up a conversation with O’Higgins right away.
“Considering what they go through on this journey, she was such a gift of a part. According to her, “the fact that it’s actually based on real people just completely blows my mind.”
An Irish immigrant in New York at this time, she continued, “is not at all the time.” “Jobs aren’t to be had. With no options, they set out on a journey to the West in search of a better life, only to encounter hardships as they go.
The show is about crime and corruption, but it also has a lot of hope in it. It’s a great show.
After Kathleen’s first husband, who had mental health issues, died, she took menial jobs and married an awful man in order to support Billy and his younger brother, Joseph, who had been left penniless. “There’s a real humanity to the story,” O’Higgins said, citing Kathleen’s story.
When it came to the story of an Irish immigrant, the portrayal of that character, and the way the western was reimagined, “all of these things screamed ‘yes!'” “O’Higgin’s stated.”
Webber said he was drawn to the project because of his admiration for Hirst’s storytelling style and the opportunity to play a memorable character.
The actor described Jesse as “pragmatic and wily” in a statement.
“He’s charismatic both as a leader and as a person,” says the author. When Billy the Kid arrived in Lincoln County [New Mexico], he was a seminal figure. Webber goes on to say, “Our story is about their friendship.”
This way of life involves cattle rustling and theft, as well as abandoning society’s norms and values.
Billy and Jesse form an almost-brotherhood, establishing their own moral code, and forming a community of their own.
The world is corrupt, according to Jesse, and nothing can be done about it. According to Webber: “Billy is a believer in justice, fairness, and morality.”
In the course of the series and throughout history, they become great friends and then bitter enemies. They have this incredible friction between them.” In addition, it’s a lot of fun to chart.”
When it comes to westerns, Blyth thinks that Americans are drawn to stories about people who are self-sufficient in beautiful, wild places while also examining the country’s tangled history, which is why Yellowstone and The Power of the Dog have become so popular in recent years.
There’s a greater awareness of how the United States came to be, he said.
To have so many different immigrant groups fighting for the same land and trying to survive on their own is a brutal way to build an entire country, but it had to be done that way.
America is at a “watershed moment” where it’s acknowledging that in order to move forward, we need to look back and acknowledge some of our past mistakes.