Wild Bill – Rob Lowe Q&A, part one: Brexit, Westerns and Mexican food

Rob Lowe as Wild Bill. Picture: ITV
Rob Lowe as Wild Bill. Picture: ITV

Wild Bill is now less than two weeks away from our TV screens.

The first episode of the Boston-based crime drama starring US actor Rob Lowe will be shown on Wednesday, June 12, at 9pm on ITV, it was revealed yesterday (Wednesday, May 29).

Here, we hear from the star himself in an interview released as part of a press pack to promote show.

This is part one, which covers how Lowe came to be involved in the show, background on his character, and his thoughts on Boston (with mentions of Brexit, Ohio, and Mexican food) ...

* How did you become involved in Wild Bill?

“One of the co-creators and executive producers is Kyle Killen and I’m a massive fan of his work. He and I were discussing finding something to do together and he said ‘I have this thing in my back pocket that may be being made in England. They are going to bring on some English writers to make it more authentic’.

A crop of the image Rob Lowe shared via his Instagram account earlier in the year.

A crop of the image Rob Lowe shared via his Instagram account earlier in the year.

“So he sent it to me and I really responded to the notion of playing this type of cynical, jaded, know-it-all, fish-out-of-water character in a really different landscape.”

* What’s Bill’s background?

“Like everything today, whether it’s sport or law enforcement, algorithms are changing the way businesses are run. Bill was a top cop and on the forefront of that in the United States. Now bringing it to Britain, it’s really cutting edge.

“Bill is also known for slashing jobs, so people are very wary of him. They are not fans of his. He is combative by nature and is always going into situations in that way. There’s a lot of intrinsic conflict in the show which I really liked. As an actor, any time you can play conflict it’s good.”

Everybody was so welcoming there and so excited. When I walked through the town market, people were coming up to me and thinking I was the actual new Chief Constable, which was great. My favourite comment came from a couple of people who said it was the biggest thing to happen in their town since the war.

* Did wearing the Chief Constable’s uniform help get into character?

“The uniform really does help. The first time you put that on it just makes such an amazing visual statement. It affects everything about how you carry yourself. As an actor, having done this for so long, it becomes increasingly rare to find a look on camera that you have never done before. Wearing a Chief Constable’s uniform is definitely a first for me.”

* Bill has a teenage daughter called Kelsey (Aloreia Spencer). What kind of father is he?

“Bill is trying to make up for lost time. Like a lot of people, he was focused on his work and not on his marriage. He just stuck his head in the sand and put one foot in front of the other hoping everything would be OK.

"As flat as a pancake. "A still from the promo.

"As flat as a pancake. "A still from the promo.

“Ultimately, things were very much not OK and now he’s trying to learn. However, he is very much behind the curve.”

* Both Bill and Kelsey have suffered loss after the death of his wife. How does that impact on them?

“That story frames their entire dynamic. They are both working through loss, grief, anger and abandonment around it. That’s implicit in every single scene they have. Much like real life, sometimes you’re aware of it and at other times you’re not. But it’s always there.”

* He tells his daughter, ‘Change is healthy.’ By the very nature of their job, do actors have to embrace change?

“When Bill says that, I think he is saying it to himself as much as her. He’s trying to convince himself of it. But, yes, being in the moment, reactive and present is not only a great tool as an actor, and it’s a great tool for life.”

* Bill thinks the English make it a point of national pride to be miserable at all times. How would you characterise the English?

“Bill is very much a curmudgeon and a misanthrope. And I am not. I’m by nature really optimistic and very embracing of new things. I love coming to England and almost everything about it. I get to be a proper Englishman for the time I’m here.

“Bill Hixon, on the other hand, is just counting the days until he can go back to the United States. When I’m playing Bill I have to do some acting, because I love it here!”

* Wild Bill is based in Boston, Lincolnshire. Was the choice of location important?

“Wild Bill is one of those shows that could only be located in the place where it is meant to be done. There have been very few, if any, TV shows centred in the Lincolnshire area. And to do it now when Boston is known as the home of Brexit, with over 75 per cent of people voting to leave, also gives it a timeliness and a reason for being.

“The characters that populate our show are not the people you think of when you think of London. They live in a very different world that does not get the spotlight shone on it very often.

“It also looks amazing. The show is almost a western allegory. I’m literally a new sheriff in town, and that flat landscape in Lincolnshire really gives it a look that you haven’t seen before.

“It was very reminiscent of places in the mid-West where I’m from. I’m from Ohio and we have our landscapes that are like that – where you can literally see the horizon for miles and miles. I was surprised to find that in England, because when I think of England, I think of the gently rolling countryside. Lincolnshire is as flat as a pancake.

“I’m always trying to find something about a project that is original. So between the location and tone, Wild Bill is very unique.”

* How did the local people react to you when you were filming there?

“Everybody was so welcoming there and so excited. When I walked through the town market, people were coming up to me and thinking I was the actual new Chief Constable, which was great. My favourite comment came from a couple of people who said it was the biggest thing to happen in their town since the war.

“I went to a Mexican restaurant in Boston which was rated very highly. I’ve yet to find a Mexican restaurant in London, so I had to go all the way to Lincolnshire to get proper Mexican food. I’m a southern Californian and I know my Mexican food. It wasn’t the Mexican food I know, but it was really good.”

* Wild Bill will be shown on Wednesday, June 12 at 9pm on ITV.

READ MORE: Ten things we learnt from the promo for Wild Bill

READ MORE: Wild Bill begins filming in Boston