Trail Tales Cast Chat with Larry Soller

 
Multi-episode Cast Member

Mr. Soller in white
Raye in gold

How were you cast?

They were interested in seeing me. My agent had submitted me and they picked from pictures. They were picking from types.. people that look like judges, which I guess I do, and store-keeps and local color.

Originally it was a possibility that I would be the permanent circuit judge and have a recurring role. For day players that's a big deal to get a recurring role... it means you can get back into the show again and again.

The first role I played was a judge, a Circuit judge, rather than a trial by jury.. at least that's the way they started.  That lasted I think twice.. two episodes.. then the third time I was a judge there was a jury involved.

<>On one other occasion, I played a store keep. That's the episode were I had a scene with Josh Brolin.

As I told you before... I was not a star, I was a day player.. I came in as a local talent from Phoenix and during those three years it was often true that we drove down for auditions because they had a new director every week, it seemed like and there was not a lot of consistency with the individual directors, so each one would need to see the same actors again in order to cast their episode.

They would shoot  an episode in about two weeks and put it in the can, send it to LA to be edited and that episode would be televised in three weeks so, the next one was being shot with a different director at the same time. I suppose that's the reason why they used a different Director  because the director had to go back to
L.A. and edit it.

They knew who the Young Riders were, obviously, and they also knew who the principle antagonist or foil was. Who they would be fighting against, represented by a bad guy or a group of people and so, we were part of window dressing as the background players. I mean, I had lines... I can't remember.. I think I had lines in all of them... I have a recollection of one scene, maybe my very first on camera scene, who was the young sheriff? The one that was in the early episodes...

Marshal Sam Cain, played by Brett Cullen.

I remember them walking around with the smoke machine.. I teach film Now  have for many years at Phoenix college in Phoenix, Arizona,  and one of the things we talk about was "McCabe and Mrs. Miller"(1971). It was the first time they used a lot of smoke to give ambiance light-wise and all that.. so the crew walked around with a little smoke machine and so right before they would roll camera, they would smoke up the room, kind of give it this 'dim-lit bar feel' and you can see it used a good deal in McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

There was a certain group of actors. Nancy and Earl Smith. Both photographers locally... Earl was in quite a few episodes.
Nancy was a dance hall girl. Like me, they were in a particular group.. an episode where I was playing a judge, it all hinged on whether the non-speaking actor would actually point at the villain (Speak no Evil) and so, off in a water tower nearby..a bad guy (Earl Smith) was holding someone tied with rope and if they did or said the wrong thing in the courtroom.. they would shoot him, right?

Exactly.

And so, after the courtroom decision was made, the woman, the young gal, you'd know her name...

Yvonne Suhor/Lou

Yes, from the steps of the courthouse she would signal Steve Baldwin who was able to pick him off Earl at long range and prevent the good young rider from getting killed.

I tell my film students, the interesting thing about that episode, was that most of the courtroom scene for me was shot.. the shots of me with George Washington in the background, were shot later in the afternoon or evening with me alone on the set with the crew. And, all courtroom shots with all the people were done earlier on. So when the swung the cameras around and did the reverses I was alone in the courtroom... besides the camera people and the director [laughter]. All the rest of the stuff had been done. It was another one of the scenes shot on the outskirts of
Tucson, on an old street in Mescal.

This was July.. and there were a lot of thunder storms. So there were a lot of retakes there, 'cause we had a thunder storm nearby and also it was on the flight path for the Tucson airport, so there were some problems with that particular location.

Young Riders was a big deal for those of us that live in the
Phoenix area. For those of us that live in the valley and don't want to live in L.A. it was one of the few opportunities to be in episodic television. Many actors worked quite a bit.. I felt fortunate to do four or five episodes. I know they shot for three years, but wanted to do five for syndication purposes.

Is there an episode with Gary Sandy?
 
"Spies" was the name of the episode with Gary Sandy.

Was he the head of the Cavalry?

Well, he pretended to be, but he was really the villain.

I remember that one. I played a train conductor in the opening shot. I come walking through the train and then it cuts to the two people that are trying to avoid Gary Sandy and the troops. They get up and run and there are gun shots and I rush in and he says, "Did you see where they went?"

I said, "No."

Then Gary actually picked me up and threw me against the train car in Rehearsal  and he threw me so hard that my head snapped back and banged against the wall. He was very intense. We did it a couple of times and it worked out fine.  It wasn't fun, but it's all in the life of an actor. The only reason why this episode sticks out in my memory is because the sound was a problem. I was walking between two train cars and shouting "All Aboard, All Aboard" and maybe the name of the station. I saw it on the air and thought, "That isn't my voice." It was me there opening my mouth, but they had dubbed in someone else's voice without my permission. It's not that important.. I noticed it, the disembodied voice through the train car. It was great for me, a day player, you get to stay overnight... pay your SAG insurance for awhile. [laughter] All those things became pretty important.

That one episode with Josh Brolin, I was a store keep in that. He was teaching me as we went along. We were very close to each other and someone came in behind him and I was supposed to look over his shoulder and I actually, physically moved to look behind Josh… he told me all I had to do was shift my eyes to the right and spot the bad guy behind him and how to do that and I thought it was good film acting lesson. He obviously had a lot of experience.

Mr. Soller played the store keeper in "Debt" and was one of the many towns people that turned his back on Matt, causing his death.

Somewhere, I have this wooden gun with a clothes pin attached to hold a rubber band on it to be used as toy ammo. I bought it for my son Ben who went down there for one shoot. I remember Josh and Steve horsing around having some fun with it. Later I got the cast to sign the barrel and handle. It's got all the signatures on it. Who knows, it might even be valuable?

I'd say it is!!!

"Storekeeper" in "The Debt"
"Judge"  in "Man Behind the Badge"
"Judge Smithe" in "Speak No Evil"
"Train conductor" in "Spies"
"Judge" in "Blind Love"

Talk about a man with a great memory and some fun, fun stories! A huge thanks to Mr. Larry Soller for answering our questions!