Bailey Chase on ‘Longmire’

Chase talks about playing the competition in “Longmire” and looks back on “Buffy” and “Damages.”

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Bailey Chase actually helped me with all of my future interview recordings. Over a cell phone connection, my usual recording device was creating too much feedback. So in an emergency, I switched to simply holding my recorder right up to the earpiece. Coming back to listen to it, it sounds way clearer than any recording hookup I’ve ever used before.

Now I just go old school. On “Longmire” Chase plays Branch Connally, the man running for sheriff against Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor.)

 

CraveOnline: Would you say that Branch is a bad guy on “Longmire”?

Bailey Chase: [Laughs] You could say that, yeah. Not traditionally so but I’m definitely bringing conflict to the show, an antagonistic push to it.

CraveOnline: So the antagonist for sure.

Bailey Chase: Yeah, yeah. Not really the bad guy. I’m justified in my own way.

CraveOnline: As they all are.

Bailey Chase: Yeah, I mean, come on. Gotta keep life interesting, eh?

CraveOnline: How political is Branch in campaigning?

Bailey Chase: He’s very political. I would say that’s the distinct difference between he and Walt. I come from one of those blue blood type of families that’s been in Wyoming for generations. My uncle used to be the sheriff and my dad was very politically connected.

Kind of what I was alluding to before is that Branch definitely has a strong conscience. Walt is very much a good guy, so I definitely have some questions about running against someone who is morally good, great at his job but I just feel like there’s a better way.

CraveOnline: What is the magnitude of those face off scenes with Robert Taylor?

Bailey Chase: I think the best stare down in the pilot is actually between Walt and Henry Standing Bear. That is probably my favorite scene in the pilot. In terms of the magnitude with the showdown between Walt and I, it’s different. It’s not so head to head. What I love about that scene in the pilot is it is very much a Clint Eastwood moment where they’re 15 paces apart and hands on their hips kind of thing, and who’s going to blink first?

Walt and Branch actually don’t really have that type of confrontation because we’re both cops, we’re forced to work together, we’re trying to solve the crimes of the week and the election is much more of the B story. I think that’s what just kind of keeps it interesting because the audience will just get little bits and pieces here and there and they won’t really see it coming. It’ll just kind of happen.

There’s a scene that we’re shooting tomorrow where Walt just kind of comes out and asks me something very personal and private. I look at him like, “What? You don’t have the right to ask me that.” Then I’ll later have a scene with my dad where Branch is seriously second guessing about running against Walt because Walt’s great. He’s very good at this job. We do things very differently but it’s more of a difference of opinion. I just think there’s a better way. Walt wants a break from all the talking where I’m happy to go out and do all those community events and the politicking.

CraveOnline: Is that great drama, when opposing forces have to work together?

Bailey Chase: Exactly. We’re forced into this environment and he probably has a lot more that he wants to say or ask me but circumstances prevent it because the clock is ticking on whatever crime we’re trying to solve in that episode.

CraveOnline: What does Branch think is a better way?

Bailey Chase: I want to use everything we can that’s at our disposal. For example, there’s an episode where I want to bring in a handwriting specialist for the FBI. There are none in Absaroka County so we’d have to bring him in from Denver. Walt just doesn’t like that. He wants to keep the team very small. He never wants the feds to get involved. I use any technology at my disposal to help solve crimes. Walt doesn’t even have a cell phone. So those are some of the differences.

CraveOnline: What is Branch’s interaction with the rest of the department?

Bailey Chase: So Walt can definitely be a bit of a lone ranger, will go out on his own and follow his gut, do his own kind of thing. What’s great for me is there are the other two deputies there where sometimes I’ll get paired off with this tough chick who’s very street smart and non-Wyoming. The other half of the time I’ll be off with The Ferg who’s really funny and very new at being a cop. So it’s great for me that I kind of get to work with everybody else in the cast. They all have very different energies and ways about doing things.

CraveOnline: What were some of the interesting cases your character investigates?

Bailey Chase: Well, a lot of what’s delicate in terms of the crimes that we’ve had on the show are the reciprocity between things that happen in the town and things that happen on the reservation. We don’t have any rights to be up there or to investigate up there and Walt has a bad relationship with the reservation police.

Mine is actually stronger so he actually tells me to go talk to him up there and find out what I can, because they don’t like Walt. They don’t want him up there. He has a beef with their former chief so that’s been interesting. The crimes have been pretty graphic. Sometimes it’s hard to watch or shoot which also makes it very interesting. There’s nothing like it on TV. I feel like we’re shooting a new movie every week.

 


CraveOnline: What differences have you felt working on an A&E show versus shows you’ve done on FX, TNT and network?

Bailey Chase: What was cool about when I started working for TNT, they were in a very similar position where they had had some other scripted dramas come and go, but they did have “The Closer” which is a phenomenon in itself.

A&E has let something else go and we’ll have “The Glades” as our lead in. It’s just a very exciting time for the network where they are trying to brand themselves and grow and create more of an original programming schedule. I feel like “Saving Grace” definitely helped TNT do that and hopefully “Longmire” is going to do the same for A&E.

CraveOnline: Did you get to have any action or stunts on “Longmire?”

Bailey Chase: I do, I do. We’re actually shooting a rodeo episode right now so I’ll be up on a horse and get to do some of that. It’s not a western per se. We’re driving around in SUVs and I have a Dodge Charger and what not, so it’s a contemporary cop show that happens to be set in Wyoming, but in this particular episode, there’s a rodeo killer. I’ll be able to get up on a horse. That’s pretty cool. That’s the kind of stuff I love to do.

CraveOnline: How different is it shooting a series in Santa Fe?

Bailey Chase: We shoot the majority of our stuff on location either in town or just outside of town. There’s an area called Pecos that we go to a lot, Glorieta which is up in the mountains. We had some dead bodies in the river, that was interesting.  We had a marijuana film up in a national park. Just the kind of stuff you don’t get in the city.

CraveOnline: Is that still different than shooting in L.A. or Vancouver where they’re used to productions?

Bailey Chase: Yeah, yeah, it was. “Saving Grace,” even though fictionally it was set in Oklahoma, we shot it right outside of L.A. After three or four seasons we were kind of running out of locations. It’s great to be in here and be in the vastness of just this open space without a lot of people.

CraveOnline: When you’ve done a show like “Buffy,” how long does that last? How continuing are the fans of your season?

Bailey Chase: Well, that was a really interesting start for me because I hadn’t really done anything and then I get on this show that just has a huge cult following. I was nobody on that show but just from that I was invited to these conventions and started to do that and really bond with the other actors.

It was just a lot of fun to get my start on such a successful show and have that fan interaction. It was cool. That probably went for about three or four years, even after the show, and now we’re 10 years removed. People will be like, “Were you that guy?” It’s just fun. Marc Blucas is a guy who over the years we’ve bumped into each other at auditions. It’s been interesting to see him grow up and I’m sure vice versa.

CraveOnline: So you have gone to conventions and done signings?

Bailey Chase: I have but it was more just in the first couple years after “Buffy.” I left that show around 2000.

CraveOnline: Did you ever find yourself as part of any fan fiction?

Bailey Chase: Well, you get a little bit of that stuff. There’s a lot of trading cards and action figures. I think I was in some games, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” card games. At the time, obviously the internet was exploding, all the blogs, people writing about the show. They would get right on there right after it would air. I thought that was really neat, like I was part of this little club. I miss that a little bit.

CraveOnline: How was your experience on “Damages?”

Bailey Chase: “Damages” was cool. It brought me back to New York for a little while so that was a lot of fun and I was obviously very excited about the opportunity to work with Rose Byrne and Glenn Close. I’d been a fan of that show before I started working on it.

The way that the timing worked out, I ended up getting the pilot for “Longmire” while I was shooting it so unfortunately we weren’t able to achieve all we had hoped for in terms of the storyline on “Damages” but it was great to go do that for a couple months.

CraveOnline: Now that there all of these quality cable shows, is auditioning easier and better with more opportunities available?

Bailey Chase: I wouldn’t say that auditioning is easier or better per se. I would think the more you work, the easier it gets because you have more people out there who are familiar with you and your work and hopefully you have a few fans.

That was a case on “Longmire.” They knew my stuff on “Saving Grace” so that definitely helped. It does seem like there are more shows with the cable networks but the cable networks don’t make a lot of pilots. It seems like the major networks aren’t giving their new shows as long of a test period. I’ve seen a lot air two, three, four episodes and then they’re gone.

But the other thing is the field is more competitive. From 10 years ago, we have a lot more Australians working in Hollywood. We have a lot of guys from Britain. There are more productions going up to Canada. So the game has changed a lot and in addition to that, you’re seeing more and more movie stars doing television so I think it’s more competitive than ever.

CraveOnline: Have you noticed there’s a lot more media covering every single episode and scrutinizing every aspect of a show?

Bailey Chase: I have. I have. And not all of it flattering. [Laughs] That’s always interesting.