‘Billy the Kid’: Tom Blyth Talks Transforming Into the ‘Magnetic’ Outlaw (VIDEO)

Billy the Kid, the moody new drama from Vikings creator Michael Hirst, digs deep into the life of 19th Century cowboy and gunslinger Billy the Kid (Tom Blyth), painting a nuanced portrait of the notorious outlaw.

There’s plenty of Old West action (saloon brawls, cattle rustling, pistol slinging) in the Epix series, but we also see Billy reading from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself; and caring for his loving mother (Eileen O’Higgins). It’s clear that the brutal frontier environment — and endless grief and deep poverty it brought his family — transformed Billy from the innocent son of Irish immigrants to a legendary criminal.

“We think we know him as this sociopathic murderer who was good on a gun and good with a horse. But he’s someone who’s been hardened day after day by constant loss,” says Blyth, who connected with his character by taking a road trip through Billy’s old stomping grounds.

As the series goes on, Billy remains sympathetic and likable, despite his lawbreaking ways. Some of the ladies of his day were entranced — in one scene, a woman runs up and kisses him as he’s being dragged off to jail.  Says Blyth, “He was magnetic. The history books talk about how people couldn’t help but like him even when he was doing bad things.”

Billy the Kid, Series Premiere, Sunday, April 24, Epix