Behind 'Lawmen: Bass Reeves': The Real Story

David Oyelowo's passion project finally nears its debut.

by Nouman Rasool
Behind 'Lawmen: Bass Reeves': The Real Story

Reality sometimes outshines even the most imaginative fictions, and nowhere is this truer than in the life of Bass Reeves. As excitement grows around the upcoming series, Lawmen: Bass Reeves, audiences are poised to delve deep into a tale that might be more gripping than any Hollywood script could contrive.

Born into the confinements of slavery, Reeves' journey to freedom during the tumultuous Civil War led him to the vast expanses of Indian Territory. Here, he honed the skills that would solidify his reputation as a legendary figure in American lore.

As a Deputy U.S. Marshal, his resume boasted over 3,000 arrests, with whispers suggesting he was the real-life inspiration for the iconic Lone Ranger character. Taylor Sheridan, the creative genius behind the hit series Yellowstone, has seen his unique blend of modern Western storytelling explode in popularity.

His portfolio spans from the gritty chronicles of crime families in Mayor of Kingstown to tales of military prowess in Special Ops: Lioness. Yet, with Lawmen: Bass Reeves, Sheridan faces the challenge of portraying a life so extraordinary that its reality rivals any cinematic dramatization.

Oyelowo's Long-Held Vision

Interestingly, the idea for this series had been brewing long before Sheridan's involvement. Actor David Oyelowo, celebrated for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, was captivated by Reeves' history and had been determined to adapt it for the screen.

It's a venture that faced several hurdles over an eight-year span, but now, at last, the wait is nearly over. Portraying the nuances of Reeves' life is no small task. Born in 1838, his early years were marked by the oppressive chains of slavery in Grayson County, Texas.

As the Civil War raged, Reeves found himself alongside his master, Captain George Reeves, fighting for the Confederacy. Yet, amidst the chaos, Reeves seized a chance escape, venturing into Oklahoma's Indian Territory. His time among the Native tribes proved transformative.

Not only did Reeves become proficient in local languages, including Muscogee, but he also displayed unparalleled prowess with dual pistols. After the war, this expertise didn't go unnoticed. In 1875, amidst rising crime in Indian Territory, Judge Isaac Parker commissioned new deputies to restore order.

Reeves, with his unique skillset, was an obvious choice. His 32-year tenure saw him arrest over 3,000 criminals, surviving countless close calls and earning accolades for his unparalleled dedication to justice, even when it meant arresting his own son.

Today, stories of Reeves' valor still resonate. From arresting criminals with clever disguises to maintaining an impeccable track record, his feats are nothing short of legendary. One can't help but draw parallels between his striking 6’2" figure atop a white stallion and the image of The Lone Ranger.

While unconfirmed, the similarities are hard to ignore. As anticipation builds for Lawmen: Bass Reeves, it's clear that this series, much like its protagonist, will hold a special place in the annals of Americana. The line between legend and reality may be blurred, but sometimes, the truth is more captivating than fiction.