Trail Tales Cast Interview with
"Doris" from Man Behind the Badge
Raye = gold
Catherine Gilman = white
I took a look at your website and it reminded me of a lot of things. Over the years, the memories get a little muddy, so it was great to look at the website and see all that fun stuff. Congratulations on a fun site.
Thank you.. it's a thrill to live vicariously through other people.
We'll jump right in... Do you remember the casting process?
Yeah, I do.. it was my first major tv role. I had just moved to Tucson and I was pursuing archeology, studying archeology, and I was trying to get some money together and the wages in Tucson are very low and I was working as a stage hand for various things and someone said, a crew member said "They're having a call for extras at Old Tucson Studios this week for Young Riders."
And, I said, "Oh? Are there any speaking roles?"
I had been an actress on the East Coast for 20 years doing stage work. They said, "You need an agent if you want a speaking role."
"Well, are there any agents here in Tucson."
They said, "I think they're are a couple of them."
I looked them up in the yellow pages and took my portfolio around. All of them wanted me and I settled on the one who... a woman named Fosse, who has been in the business for many, many years. I thought, my goodness, if this woman has the tenacity to be in this business this long, anything I can do to support her in her work would be very good. She's been around a long time.
She sent me out for a role that came up a couple of weeks later and it was the role on the Young Riders. I went in and still had my New York chops and blew the walls out and the director looked up at me and said "Well-" and he called me by the character's name, Doris.. "Well, Doris" - and that was it. He didn't see anyone else, he hired me on the spot, and I went away thinking 'Gee, this was easy, nothing like New York - it's extrememly difficult to find an agent and once you do, getting an actual audition is tough and nailing it on your first try? This is a different process. A whole different part of the world.'
Needless to say, it hasn't always been that way since, in Tucson... I didn't pursue acting at all, just did it once in awhile to get some money, but I found that you can't be that lucky every time.
I arrived on the set and realized that I had no experience with camera work... all my work had been on stage and I had done a few little television things. I had been on a couple of movie sets and done some extra work, but this was a whole different thing and I was too proud to do the smart thing, to go up and say 'Hey, I've never done this before, so show me what's what.' Instead I just really watched... watched with real intensity, and I was exhausted at the end of every day from watching so carefully.
So when I think back, I think I was probably incredibly stiff during the whole show, through every scene... impossibly stiff, but I had a wonderful time.
They were all great people- very welcoming, very warm- and they were very professional, but extremely laid back. It was very much a West Coast kind of thing. I remember all the guys - you could hardly see that there were professionals underneath they were such studies in laconic ease. Hanging back, laughing, joking, there was so much that you couldn't detect from looking at them - that there was a strict discipline under each one, getting up in front of a camera or behind a camera and doing some pretty impressive work.
Of all the people you watched, who did you 'pick up' the most from?
You know who was really impressive? A stunt man by the name of Monty, but I don't know his last name.
There you go. He's landed big commercials and has been in a lot of westerns. He's the epitome of the Western guy. What was so impressive about him was that he was so relaxed and so true to his own nature.. which happened to be exactly what was needed. It's that loose jointed, very simple and direct presence. I was so impressed by him. He had a little scene in the Marshal's office, just a line here or there, but it was clear that this guy who went from Western production to Western production was just being himself. Everybody on the set respected him enormously. It was clear that he had what everyone was aiming at.
What were your impressions of the other Guest Stars and Main Cast?
I remember Eddie Jones was there, I had seen him in a lot of character work, so I was happy to be in the same show. He'd come in from LA and was very nice. I liked all the regular cast members, I didn't have a TV that picked up the show, so I had never seen it. So I was meeting all of these people for the first time without knowing who these characters were, and sort of learning as I went along. I was pleased to see what was being done in the Western genre by these people, it really was quite different from Westerns that I had grown up with. Here was something a little different.
I remember Melissa Leo being someone who was so centered and so direct with her performance that she made me.. she was the one that made me feel most like I was back on a stage in New York. There was a quality to her that made me think, "Oh! I've gotta step it up a notch." These people aren't just chewin' the ends of hay [yikes! did I say that?], or whatever, these people are trying to get some interesting work in here. That was nice.
So, what are some of the things that were different from stage to television work?
I would be the last one to be able to answer that. I was so... I was trying to learn so much that I didn't know if I was doing it well, or not. And my impression at the end of every day was, "Boy, that really sucked."
So, my experience of it, was that I didn't know enough about it to take advantage of the medium, who knows... In stage work there's a lot more freedom, your movement is not restricted to a camera angle. I was used to filling out a space physically in ways that I was too scared to do with the camera on me. I felt that I had to keep things real tight. Then I found out I didn't have to. I could have relaxed and been a little more natural. It would have helped.
It might have played nicely. I was so scared that I was going to screw up.. then, I thought, good, let's use that. Apparently, this character is really scared, all kinds of horrible things are happening to her, so... let's just go with it.
Do you remember anything that happened in the filming, any unexpected things?
Sadly, no.. I have no funny stories.. but the things that went right were so impressive, like there was a scene...I guess there was a scene in everyone of these episodes where glass shatters or a window gets blown out. It was great watching that get set up. They're so used to setting it up every week.
Then watching it happen. "Do we have to set it up again? Oh, good, no." That whole thing was so well choreographed.
What was an average day like on the set?
I lived on the west side of Tucson, still do, so driving out to Mescal took like an hour and a half... something like that. [Call] was early in the morning. Very early. Especially to someone... I was still coasting on New York time, where you don't go to bed until three. Get up at 11. Having to switch my hours like that was kind of 'breathtaking'.
Do you remember in the off camera moments on set.... who you spent time with?
I have a vague recollection of sitting in those high director's chairs... everyone had their name on them, and somebody plopped me in one of those chairs, can't remember which one, but I was there surrounded by a bunch of the 'Young Riders' and I remember watching them have a great time with one another. A lot of sleepy joking. All of us were kind of tired, but they were fun and relaxed. They were good guys.
Anything that I haven't covered?
Here's a funny thing that I remembered when I was thinking about it last night. I realized, [laughing] this is so stupid [more laughter], this was the first time that really been exposed to the L.A. dress code for men who work behind the camera. This is the cinematographer who sets up the shots, all the guys behind the cameras... they all wore blue jeans that fit them so beautifully.
You knew these were not blue jeans from the mall, and I suspect that they were dry cleaned. They all had white running shoes that were very compact. Everything from the waist down looked real trim and real casual but perfect. All these perfect butts walking by. They were just camera guys but they spent their time in L.A. and their money in L.A. and it all showed from the waist down.
That just had to be a 'horrible' experience, guys in great fitting jeans.
How you managed to stay on the set and NOT walk off in a huff, I have NO idea!
[laughter on both ends of the connection]
I spent a lot of time sitting in those director's chairs, just staring.. if it wasn't the perfect blue jeans or white shoes, it was the full cowboy gear and that was fun, too.
Thanks so much to Ms. Gilman! It's just fantastic to hear her memories of the show and the fun stories behind this episode.. i'll never look at jeans the same way ;) - Raye