‘Walker Independence’ Premiere: Katherine McNamara on the Skeletons in Abby’s Closet

Katherine McNamara in 'Walker Independence'
Premiere
Anna Kooris/The CW

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the series premiere of Walker Independence.]

Abigail Walker has arrived in Walker Independence. The series premiere of the Walker Western prequel debuted Thursday, October 6 on The CW, starring Katherine McNamara (Arrow), Matt Barr (Walker, once again playing Hoyt Rawlins, just a couple hundred years older), Justin Johnson Cortez, Katie Findlay, Lawrence Kao, Philemon Chambers, and more. The cast had previously told TV Insider that their show was “not your mama’s Western,” and the pilot certainly proved as much.

While retaining the aesthetic of a classic Western, The CW’s newest drama features a diverse cast tasked with telling the stories of the diverse people of the American West in the late 1800s. McNamara tells TV Insider that everyone Abby meets in this fledgling town has something they’re running from. And with new details about the murder of her husband unearthed in the series premiere, it seems Abby does too.

Here, McNamara breaks down the Walker Independence pilot, including details about Abby’s past that the widow may be trying to keep quiet.

So much drama takes place within the first five minutes alone, with Abigail declaring at the end that she’s staying in Independence to seek justice. What will that look like for her? She tried to kill Tom Davidson, the new sheriff, at first, but now she seems to have changed course.

Kat McNamara: It all depends, because in the West, we all know justice isn’t necessarily black or white. And that is the dilemma she’s faced with moving forward: what lengths is she willing to go in order to avenge her husband’s death? What is she willing to compromise? What is she willing to sacrifice? What is she willing to do, morally and violently speaking? As we go through this series, we really get to see Abby reshaped by this new environment and the other characters she meets.

What’s the most fun part of making a Western?

For me, the greatest part of it is getting to dive into this world and immerse yourself in it. Our set is mostly practical. We have a full town. You can literally walk down the street, into the bank and out, into the saloon and out and all around. It really creates an amazing environment when you have all of our background artists and all of us in fully period wardrobe and really getting to live in this town. We have cows, horses, goats, and everything else. It allows you to really play and create the world around you.

Katherine McNamara in 'Walker Independence'

Richard Foreman, Jr./The CW

Without her husband, she now needs to find a way to support herself. How she will do that?

What’s great is we get to see her presented with a choice in this pilot of becoming a victim of her circumstance, or choosing her own independence and creating a new future for herself. Maybe it’s not the future she imagined, but perhaps it’s the future she was always meant for. Getting to see a woman in the 1800s have this sort of agency and have to problem solve in this way is really interesting. She’s a smart woman. She finds her way.

How does Abby’s relationship with Hoyt evolve moving forward?

We get to see these two characters who are both fighting for loyalty and justice in their own way, but have very different perspectives on the matters. And in a sense, they are able to push each other to face parts of themselves they wouldn’t otherwise be confronted with. It’s an exciting arc to get to play out.

What other characters should viewers keep an eye out for?

I would say all of them. What’s so brilliant about this series is that every single character is so fascinating, and the actors that play them are just as fascinating. It’s really wonderful to get to build these character relationships, because each one brings out something different in the other. You really get to see that, in Independence, everyone’s running from something. No one is who they seem. And as you peel back these layers, I think folks will fall more and more in love with every single character.

Matt Barr, Katherine McNamara & Justin Johnson Cortez in 'Walker Independence'

Richard Foreman/The CW

Will we get to see more action-star you in this series?

Abby’s life is a bit less action heavy than some of the other characters I’ve played, but it’s heavy in other ways. Life in the West is difficult in many different aspects, and they don’t shy away from putting our characters through the wringer. It’s been blood, sweat, and tears, but in the best way possible.

Can you take me behind the scenes of what filming the pilot was like? Where you filmed, how long it took, memorable moments, etc.?

We shot the pilot in nine days, which is wild for a Western, and we shoot each of our episodes in less time now. We had the brilliant Larry Teng as our director, and Larry has such an incredible way of bringing people into his vision and inspiring people to carry it out and forward, but also letting everyone feel creatively involved. We call it “The Windy Way” now. It’s what Larry left us with after he did the first three episodes of our show.

From the moment I started talking to him about the show, he had such a vision for it, adding so much color, life, vibrancy, and music and really reinventing the genre as much as we possibly can with these new perspectives on 1800s Texas. What brought us all together was the passion and the heart of him and Seamus Kevin Fahey, our showrunner. They came together to create this beautiful partnership that carried the rest of us forward, and that’s what we still talk about every day on set.

Abby’s husband may have had some drama back in Boston that connected him to his killer, Tom Davidson. But there were hints in the premiere that he might not have been as innocent as he seems. What can you tease about some possible shocking revelations for Abby?

Abby doesn’t stop with finding information just about the town that she’s in and avenging her husband’s death. She is forced to confront her own past with her own family, and what may or may not be the reason she doesn’t go back home when all of this happens.

She has to confront her husband’s past, digging into the reasons of why they were really going to Independence, and she also has to look into each and every person she’s met in town. Everyone has something they’re hiding and trying to move past here. The consequences are many for all of these characters, but it’s how they get through it together — and how they choose to forgive and move on or not — that really plays into how the story continues.

Greg Hovanessian & Philemon Chambers in 'Walker Independence'

Anna Kooris/The CW

Could we see other people from Abby’s past pop up in Independence?

Maybe. Anything’s possible.

It seems the men of Independence, especially the law enforcement, are going to underestimate Abby. What warning you would give against that?

I would say that Abby is, just as anyone in Independence, not exactly what she seems. It’s interesting coming into this character who looks like a Boston society woman, very buttoned up, proper, and probably a bit demure in certain ways, but there’s so much more beneath the surface. You get to see that in the pilot, and hopefully we’ll get to carry that out as the series continues and will get to see even more of what Abby is made of.

Walker Independence, Thursdays, 9/8c, The CW