EBONY has the exclusive first look at the full trailer of Lawmen: Bass Reeves, coming to Paramount+. The new anthology series reveals the untold story of Bass Reeves, the first Black U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi. David Oyelowo serves as an executive producer on the series and stars in its title role. Two episodes will drop for its premiere on November 5, 2023.
Born into enslavement in Crawford County, Arkansas, in 1838, Deputy U.S. Marshal Reeves escaped during the Civil War. He was a scout and tracker for peace officers before being commissioned to his government post in 1875. During his extraordinary career, he arrested over 3,000 outlaws and is often considered the inspiration for the Lone Ranger.
"Bass Reeves was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life at an extraordinary time in America’s history," Oyelowo shared in an interview conducted before the actors' strike. "He lived with Native Americans for a number of years where he learned a bunch of skills that became applicable when he went on to be a deputy marshal, and he had a career that spanned nearly 40 years in law enforcement."
His life was not without strife. In the face of post-Reconstruction and the establishment of Jim Crow laws, the weight of the badge was heavy, and Reeves wrestled with its moral and spiritual cost on his family. "When you contextualize that life with these seminal moments in American history...to have that level of success and notoriety as a lawman is just extraordinary," Oyelowo said.
The new series focuses on the first 10 to 12 years of Reeves' career as a lawman, a story that has yet to be widely told. “There is a myriad of reasons why I believe we’re not familiar with this story," Oyelowo declared. "There are times where certain history is kept back because of how powerful it is."
From the script and production design to the costumes, hair and makeup, "An enormous amount of effort and work has gone into making sure it is historically as accurate as possible and then comes the poetic license, the dramatic license that is a necessity to be able to tell the story," Oyelowo teased.
The new series also touches on Native American culture, as Bass Reeves lived with the Choctaw and spoke their language. "A lot of research had to go into that to make sure it was being projected properly. We’re trying to make sure that we get it right.”
The cast includes Lauren E. Banks, Demi Singleton, Tony winner Joaquina Kalukango, Forrest Goodluck, Emmy Award Winner Barry Pepper, honorary Oscar recipient Donald Sutherland, Emmy Award nominee Dennis Quaid, Lonnie Chavis, Grantham Coleman, Tosin Morohunfola, Dale Dickey, Rob Morgan, Ryan O’Nan, Margot Bingham, Mo Brings Plenty, Justin Hurtt-Dunkley and Bill Dawes, with guest stars Shea Whigham and Garrett Hedlund.