Yellowstone showrunner Taylor Sheridan decided to clear room in his busy schedule to direct the first episode of 1883: Bass Reeves. The six-part limited series starring David Oyelowo will tell the tale of the real-life black lawman who inspired the Lone Ranger. Oyelowo, who said he’s been pitching the authentic tale the Hollywood for years to no response, thanked Sheridan for the nod, calling him one of the industry’s best.
“The reality is that [Taylor] is one of the best directors on the planet,” Oyelowo told Deadline. “[He] decided to drop everything to direct the first two episodes because he was that excited with what we were coming up with.”
Oyelowo also said he, himself, is getting quite good as a cowboy to prepare to portray Reeves, who as deputy marshal arrested thousands of brigands in the Wild West. But to tell the story properly, the “Reeves” story needed a director to bring the words to life. According to Oyelowo, Sheridan reached out via text recently, expressing a desire to do just that.
“I was here in London,” Oyelowo explained, “and I hadn’t been expecting one from him. I opened the text and it said, ‘I love the script. Hope you don’t mind if I direct it, sir?’”
Laughing, Oyelowo said: ”I was like, let me think about it!”
Taylor Sheridan said ‘yes’ to Oyelowo after all of Hollywood rejected him — twice
He continued, speaking of Sheridan’s innate ability to tell an authentic story to a global audience.
“He did call me ‘sir’, that’s a Southern thing. I think he was just being polite. He did ask, which I appreciated. The reality is that he is one of the best storytellers on the planet. My whole thing is that we’ve got to tell a story worthy of that history, but worthy of a global audience and he’s one of those rare guys, and I’ve worked with a few of them, and he’s one of those rare ones who can really do that. It’s a big deal.”
Oyelowo also made sure to point out how important Sheridan’s stamp of approval is to him and this story he’s been pitching for years.
“For me, it’s definitely a big deal,” he concluded. “Especially since twice I went out with it and the entire industry said no to the idea of the story.”
As for the possibility of mixing Bass Reeves’ story with any Yellowstone lore, Oyelowo said Taylor Sheridan’s 1883 can serve as an entry point; but that the Reeves story stands alone.
“This is very much a stand-alone story,” Oyelowo said about the possibility of mixing storylines with Yellowstone universe characters. “But as it pertains to 1883, you see a world that I think audiences are loving having an entry point.”