TV Picks: “Texas Rising” is History’s tent-pole event of 2015 set to premiere on Memorial Day.
The network lucked out in securing a two-time Academy Award nominated director and an all-star cast. This was a massive undertaking that was filmed in the blistering desert of Durango, Mexico, in wide format CinemaScope. Quite simply, “Texas Rising” is a high quality, compelling historical drama that you must not miss.
Two-time Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffé directs “Texas Rising” with an all-star cast including: Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olivier Martinez, Thomas Jane, Christopher McDonald, Jeremy Davies, Chad Michael Murray, Max Thieriot, Robert Knepper, Rhys Coiro, Crispin Glover, Jeff Fahey, Rob Morrow, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Trevor Donovan and Kris Kristofferson.
Roland actually began in television way back in the UK series “Coronation Street” and spoke to the television critics’ association during the last press tour about why he is back in this medium.
Roland Joffé said, “Well, I think it was a really, really fascinating time of change in which television in a sense has really come of age. It’s come of age because it’s realized, and this is because of technology, but it can also engage what film does, which is spectacle. Television is always, in a way, traditionally thought to do with kind of smallness and small observation.”
When you watch “Texas Rising,” it will be as if you’re watching one of the great classic westerns. Roland, along with DP Arthur Reinhart, actually went out and recreated what Sergio Leone shot in CinemaScope ratio. He elaborated about the luxury of character development.
“But as technology has given us more scope, and it’s given us wider screens and more and more people have wider screens, better sound systems, people have begun to realize that the immersive thing that happens with a film can happen in your home, and I think a lot of directors are getting very attracted to this,” said Joffé. “But there’s one other great benefit, I think, and that is for all of us working in the movies, the problem is you never quite have the time you want to develop the characters, and the great thing about television is that an audience builds an affection for a character, and that means that you have time to develop, in a way, as a creative person, with tremendous depth. I think that’s exciting.”
This limited series will premiere over five nights beginning Memorial Day 2015. The series, which was expanded to 10-hours, details the Texas Revolution and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. The series will premiere:
Monday, May 25 at 9PM ET/PT
Tuesday, May 26 at 9PM ET/PT
Monday, June 1 at 9PM ET/PT
Monday, June 8 at 9PM ET/PT
Monday, June 15 at 9PM ET/PT
The lead actor, Bill Paxton, is a native Texan who shred his love of Texas history at the press tour.
“You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the boy. We are pretty heavily indoctrinated. Texas has great pride because it was a republic, but after the fall of San Jacinto and the treaty that was made with Mexico in 18 early 1837, Texas became its own country. And for seven years until it got statehood, it was its own country, and that spirit has remained a great source of pride for all Texans…one of my first trips, my father took me and my older brother down to the Alamo…It’s amazing to think that I would end up being in a saga about the birth of Texas.
Paxton even has a personal connection to Sam Houston, his character. “I’m related to Sam Houston, interestingly enough…His mother’s name was Elizabeth Paxton. She was my great, great, great aunt. So he was my second cousin three times removed.”
He shared that the details were important to him to “get right.”
“I just want to say something else about Texas and all this. This is a history everyone’s heard of the Alamo. They know the Alamo fell. They don’t really know what happened after that. It’s a remarkable story that after the Alamo fell in Goliad that here was Sam Houston with an army of less than 1,000 men. That weren’t regular army. They were all volunteers. He is facing Santa Anna, who is basically the Death Star. He’s got 5,000 veteran troops, and he’s trying to retreat to find the right place to confront Santa Anna to where he might have a snowball’s chance in hell, and that battle only lasted 20 minutes. The killing goes on for six or seven hours afterwards.
But it’s a little known kind of fact, but this changed the course of American history, this battle, so this whole story, even though it is historical fiction, it has been dramatized and lifted, I think the viewer will find this history very fascinating and is certainly going to be a huge entertainment as well. But it was a significant piece of American history that I think most Americans don’t really know much about besides the Alamo.”
Santa Anna is played by Olivier Martinez, who spoke of his character’s importance in the film.
“Well, it was part of the challenge I placed on my part, to be able to not be typecast as a character, and my challenge as a first Spanish out there, putting myself in the history which is not mine, watch to try to figure out where was the interesting part of my character, what was the contradiction, and it’s obviously not that clear. You don’t have good or bad guys. You have a situation and a war, and obviously the winner take over the territory.
But I think Santa Anna, at this part of time at least, knows that typical villain would try to describe. It was much more interesting and richer than that. He was a national hero. He just kick out the Spanish from Mexico, among other generals, but they were a young country. They were not prepared for this war. They were obviously not prepared to rule a country, and that was the fascinating part of my character, to make an audacious, brave man who is a little bit in a rush and also not prepared to rule a country.”
The Alamo was not the end of the story, it was only the beginning, and this effort details what followed in the fight for an independent Texas. In 1836, west of the Mississippi was considered the Wild West and the Texas frontier was viewed as hell on earth. With colliding cultures all fighting for stakes to this territory, no one was safe.
But this was a time of bravery, a time to die for what you believed in and a time to stand tall against the fierce Mexican General Santa Anna and his forces. General Sam Houston, the rag tag Rangers and the legendary “Yellow Rose of Texas,” lead this story of the human will to fight for independence despite nearly insurmountable odds and to claim a piece of history for all eternity.
In addition to the star-studded cast, the soundtrack album will feature new music from legendary performers including the title song, “Take Me To Texas,” performed by George Strait and written by Brandy Clark, as well as Kris Kristofferson’s remake of the Tom Petty classic “Won’t Back Down” and new tracks from Jose Feliciano.
**TEXAS RISING is produced by A+E Studios, ITV Studios America and Thinkfactory Media for HISTORY. Leslie Greif (HATFIELDS & MCCOYS) serves as executive producer for Thinkfactory Media. Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs serve as executives in charge of production for HISTORY.