You’d think after 15½ years on the popular series Supernatural, its star Jared Padalecki would want to rest for a while. But no, he’s back as the title character in Walker. It is the re-imagining of the long-running show Walker, Texas Ranger, which starred Chuck Norris.
Cordell Walker goes undercover for a year following the murder of his wife, Emily (portrayed by Jared’s real wife, Genevieve Padalecki). When he returns to Austin, Texas, he must attempt to reconnect with his rebellious daughter, Stella (Violet Brinson) and creative son, August (Kale Culley). He is also paired with a new partner, Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan). Being one of the first women in Texas Ranger history, she recognizes the importance of her new status and continually attempts to rein in Walker’s maverick ways.
The series is written and produced by Anna Fricke and premieres on The CW on January 21st, 2021. Jared Padalecki was interviewed by the TV Critics Association and talked about taking on the role of a lawman in the turbulent setting of 2021.
Were you a fan of the original series?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and Walker was certainly on the TV more times than I can count. I don’t know if I would win a trivia game about the original Walker Texas Ranger, but I did grow up watching the show.
How much of a change was it going from Supernatural to Walker?
Certainly after shooting Supernatural for 15½ years it was a change.
I have to give a shout-out to Anna and our writers. The character they wrote for this version of Walker is so crystal clear and different than Sam Winchester (who he portrayed in Supernatural) that I’d have to try really hard to bleed the two together.
It was a lot of work. But it was a seamless change from 15 years on Supernatural to the next 15 years on Walker as Cordell Walker. We’re pretty excited about it.
When you hear Walker you automatically think Chuck Norris’ Walker, Texas Ranger. Why did you use the name Walker as opposed to something brand new for this show?
It’s not Cordell Walker, the Texas ranger. This is about the Walker family and the families that are built that aren’t just simply blood. And so I feel like (the) name really encapsulates (that).
How different has it been than it was starting up Supernatural all those years ago?
The world we find ourselves in is very different. It’s been trying to meet your cast and crew. We all got tested today, but usually we see each other wearing masks and we’re six feet apart.
We’re not really supposed to talk to our fellow crew. That’s been the most difficult part. Not being able to seamlessly build a family. I think our text thread, which is probably not suitable for work, would prove that. But we’re all passionate about the show and the stories we’re telling. And that passion and the love for the work certainly gives me energy.
Last year we had a national conversation about the role of the police and how it affects black communities. How do go about telling a story about law enforcement nowadays when we have such a conversation going on about the role they play in perpetuating systemic racism?
Obviously, that is something that we deal with. But our Walker is not simply a story of law enforcement. Ours is more a story of human experience. So we’re not just trying to simply say good law enforcement, bad law enforcement.
We get into the human experience, politics and the issue of race and of how minorities (are) treated. It’s in politics, in industry; it’s in schools. We’re trying to deal with these issues that are very real in 2020 and 2021.
Two sides to a coin
How does the character of Walker deal with it?
We started talking about how interesting it would be to see somebody who is a proud government worker for law enforcement (who) still thinks to themselves there might be a better way. Anna and I talk a lot about the edge of the coin. They always say there are two sides to a coin – heads or tails. But the third side of the coin is the edge.
So where is that (when) somebody is bound by their duty and by a sense of safety and helping themselves and others? But also a family man or family woman who has friends and family from all walks of life. Where does that meet? We talked about wanting to pose questions as opposed to proselytize our beliefs, (forcing) answers down our viewers’ throats.