Trail Tales Cast Interview with Billy Joe Patton

Appeared in EIGHT Episodes of 'The Young Riders'

A Man of Many Faces.... literally!

My Questions and Comments in gold
Billy Joe in white

How were you cast in the show?

I was called in for an audition by the local casting agent, Holly Hire. Once she saw me, then the LA casting people would make the final decision.

*Now, when I first spoke to Mr. Patton.. he told me that he had been in EIGHT episodes, but had 'kicked the bucket' in SIX of them. So, I had to find out WHICH EIGHT? Wouldn't you?*

END of INNOCENCE: "I played a soldier that was kidnapped by the Indians and they had to cut my leg off. There was a Captain that was causing problems, they found him out at the end and everything came out all right. Virgil Vogel directed that episode, a great western director. He was a fine man. He was a classic western director, there aren't that many people out there that know how to direct a western anymore.

What are the qualities of a 'Western' Director?  

You have to know what looks good, what's right. Know how to deal with horses. How to take advantage of the outdoors, the scenery. The overall look of a western is different. Hire the right people for the tack. There's a lot involved in a western.

I was shoot off my horse in one episode...Monty doubled me on that one.

There was the episode with David Carradine... [GHOSTS ] He shot me and they put a bungee chord/jerk line on me. Jerked me off my feet, a serious deal, they had pads all over me, but I landed on the only spot that didn't have any pads. Right in the small of my back.  It really hurt, but lucky there were no rocks or anything... there wasn't any damage. They really go for it... you go flyin' when you do that.

That sounds scary

Yea, and David Carradine was SCARY! He played a guy they called 'Buzzard Eater'... I was the Deputy. He killed me, took my badge.

*I tried to make screen captures of Billy being pulled off of his feet, but the footage is too dark from the night shoot.*

Do you remember which of the actors you worked with the most?

Well I worked with all of them.. it was kind of funny though,  Ty, I think, I worked a lot more with him. In fact I did two fights where he beat me up... and it's funny cause on the second one, I came on the set with the cast for that one part and he saw me and said  'OH NO!' He said, 'How many times are they gonna believe me beatin' you up?' You see, he's a bit smaller than me... and he says 'They're not gonna buy this! I beat you up again?'  To the audience, I'd have different wardrobe, different facial hair, so they don't recognize you, that you've been there before.'

Then you have fans, who *ahem* shall remain nameless, who watch it enough on tape that they recognize the repeat players...

My own mother didn't recognize me once. I was a mormon preacher, and I'd shaved my mustache and just had a beard, no mustache. I think that one was UNFINISHED BUSINESS.

Then one time I doubled a guy that was over 300 lbs. They stuffed me all full of pillows and stuff.  There are always ways to get away with working so much. We worked about every four episodes. I had friends that worked a lot more than I did cause they were in outlaw gangs. They'd  be riding a lot and they'd be in the whole show. I'd be... for example on the show where I was the Dad [BLOOD MONEY] my character was the main concern of the over all program, but I just worked like three days, where they would work the whole week... 'cause they're on horses riding around, with the riders chasing after them back and forth... so they would actually make more money than I would, but they would get less exposure. I don't know what 'exposure' is worth.

It's sometimes interesting how that works out.

Bloopers or Outakes?

Mostly dropped lines... I don't remember anything drastic... but there was that time, Don wouldn't like me tellin' you this but there was one time when he was on a horse one time.. he lost a pedal, as they say, he lost a foot out of a stirrup and fell off his horse.

Stuff like that always happens. The horse doesn't always agree and you can't get them in the right position.  Then you have to get your dialogue down.. mostly it's a lot of -  you know, one time Ty hit me in the nose during a fight.  That kind of stuff just happens. Most stuntmen don't like doin' fights with actors.

Because they're not completely trained?

Right, they want a double, but then some actors are very prideful, they don't want to be doubled. That's not Ty's case. He's just a great guy, really... always enjoyed working with him. It's just one of those things, he messed up. In the fight he's got a lot of other things on his mind, where a stunt man is always thinkin'.. about the moves... how it's choreographed.. like a dance and they're used to doing's what they do. So, he just forgot what he was doin' at some point and it wasn't anything.


BLOOD MONEY:  Billy Joe played DYSON in the episode. DYSON was the unfortunate gentleman who tried to steal Kid's horse... and you know what they say about a man and his horse.. well, esp. THIS man and his horse...  We never 'saw' this death. Billy says it was more of a 'set up'. It was also the first time he'd had his name in TV GUIDE.

He was probably more surprised than anything else.

Yeah...yeah... In fact, I have it on a reel, on a tape, where you can see him go. 'Darn it.' Just keep going.. keep going... so it's kind of funny.  Mostly, it was verbal stuff... but occasionally some physical things, but that always happens.

Who else from the show did you work with closely?

Oh yeah.. I liked the first season when Brett Cullen and Melissa Leo were on and I really liked both of them a lot. They were very personable. It was kind of a shock... when last minute.. before the second season, they dropped them.  Nobody was expecting that. I never really got to work much with Melissa's replacement.  Josh and I worked together well, he was really good... and all of them... yeah... Gregg was really good.  Baldwin was always pulling stuff [jokes] that he thought was funny.  Anthony was a big movie star and I talked to him a few times. 

Did you work on all three seasons?

I worked on the first two, then Jim Keach he was a producer of the third season and, he had been the director of the episode I had done with Carradine, but he never hired me for the third season. 

The first episode I did was.... I was Hickok's father in a flashback of his dad abusing his mom... GUNFIGHTER

What other directors did you work with?

Joe Scanlon was one of the best. I worked for him on two of 'em. *Joseph Scanlon directed Pride and Prejudice & Blood Money & Starlight Starbright* I worked for Virigil on three of them *A Good Day to Die & Decoy & Dead Ringer & Blood Moon & The Littlest Cowboy & Requiem for a Hero & Kansas & Talisman...etc* . James Keach was an excellent director. This other guy, Bill Gerrity was another one... they stand out in your mind for different reasons.

  I was in GATHERING CLOUDS... Lee Katzen, directed that, he's an old time director. I was a corporal.. a bad guy looking like a good guy.

*Billy is the officer on the RIGHT*
Then I have the EXCHANGE down.... as a Captain. A Cavalry Captain.

I was a bad guy in SONG OF ISIAH. I was a bad guy in that one too.. I think I was shot.  They put some squib hits on that one.. they showed up in the episode.

You know, I love to do the stunt parts. The riding stuff, but I don't usually come across mean enough to be a bad guy. Don't get that many 'bad' parts. One time I was told my eyes weren't menacing enough. I can get a mean as I can get... think I'm really mean.. and they're like.. 'okay, next!'  They don't take me seriously.. I'm not MEAN. 
It can be a good thing, I remind him... you'll just have to be the hero.

True.. but I just love the stunts, getting shot.. of course I used to.. I was younger than .it's easier to do it when you're younger. Fights aren't bad, that's something pretty straightforward. Standard practice.

We had some great wrap parties. The end of the first season, Brett Cullen was good friend of Dennis Quaid and Dennis Quaid is a great musician.. so he got his band to play for the first year wrap party. They were hot... rock 'n' roll.. it was a huge deal! Every year they have a wrap party.. but the first year was really the best with the band.  It was at a local bar that they had rented for the night. Just for the private party... It was by the university, a popular college bar. The next year it was a different bar, but I haven't been in town for awhile, so I don't remember which one.

Billy asked me if I'd spoken to any of the other guys and put me in touch with Ed Adams. Ed had taught Billy about stunt work and the two had worked together on and off for years. Check back on the main index page and watch for Ed's interview to be posted.

Talk about Fun!!! Mr. Patton was a doll... and thanks to him, the Tucson connections have started pouring in! Such a gentleman indeed! - Raye