David Oyelowo Did His Own Year-Long Cowboy Camp for ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’

David Oyelowo Did His Own Year Long Cowboy Camp for Lawmen Bass Reeves
David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves in ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves.’Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Lawmen: Bass Reeves isn’t exactly a Yellowstone show, but it has at least one thing in common with other Taylor Sheridan series.

“We did have a cowboy camp,” Bass Reeves creator and showrunner Chad Feehan exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the show’s Sunday, November 5 premiere. “It lasted about a week.”

Series lead David Oyelowo, however, took the reins when it came to his own training and practiced “on horseback for over a year” before filming. “His dedication to his craft is not like anything I’ve ever seen,” Feehan, 45, added. “It’s something that I admire and aspire to, to be candid.”

Actors on shows produced by Sheridan, 53, have been candid in the past about the work they do in pre-production cowboy camps, where they learn the skills required to play convincing horsemen on screen. “It’s really helpful for learning to really become proficient on horses and use guns and the period piece weapons,” 1923 star Brian Geraghty explained to Us in December 2022. “Then also it’s great for bonding for us as characters.”

David Oyelowo Did His Own Year Long Cowboy Camp for Lawmen Bass Reeves
Lauren E. Banks as Jennie Reeves and David Oyelewo as Bass Reeves in ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves.’Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Oyelowo, who has been developing a Bass Reeves series for years, was keen on nailing the project, in part because the story is based on American history. The real Bass Reeves was born into slavery and became the first Black deputy in the U.S. Marshals after he was forced to fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

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“I grew up in Texas and I heard stories about Bass Reeves as a child,” Feehan told Us, explaining what drew his interest to the Paramount+ series. “I’ve been in sort of the same orbit as Taylor for a while, and he recommended me to David Oyelowo, who invited me to dinner. And what I thought was gonna be an hour, hour and a half turned into four hours.”

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Feehan and Oyelowo, 47, “bonded significantly over that first meal and over the story of Bass Reeves,” and at the end of dinner, Feehan had the gig as showrunner.

The historical drama isn’t explicitly intertwined with the Yellowstone universe, but there are still a few connections behind the scenes. Mo Brings Plenty, who plays Mo in the flagship series, served as Bass Reeves’ American Indian consultant, and Sheridan served as an executive producer. 

David Oyelowo Did His Own Year Long Cowboy Camp for Lawmen Bass Reeves
David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves in ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves.’Emerson Miller/Paramount+

While Bass Reeves just premiered, Feehan already knows where he wants to take future seasons. “The idea is that it’s an anthology series, and each subsequent season would follow a different lawman or outlaw from American history,” he explained to Us. “Whether that entails Bass Reeves in the future, I don’t know, or if it’s a whole different lawman — all that remains to be seen.”

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When asked whether he has any other real-life lawmen in mind, Feehan said that he does — but he’s staying quiet for now. “I’m not gonna give away any spoilers!” he joked.

The first two episodes of Lawmen: Bass Reeves premiere on Paramount+ Sunday, November 5, with additional episodes to follow every Sunday.

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