Chris Mulkey on his role in Far Haven

Far Haven—A Haven for Chris Mulkey
By Henry C. Parke

“I love Westerns. I grew up on Westerns,” actor Chris Mulkey reminisces. “I mean, as a kid, you’d get up Saturday morning, there was always a Western on. What drove me crazy, when they ran outta ammunition, the bad guys would always throw the gun away. And I always had in the back of my mind, if I could just go out west, I could find so many guns from bad guys.” He has come out west, but he hasn’t found the discarded guns. He has learned to be a Western bad guy in films like Walter Hill’s Broken Trail, and now in INSP’s new Western, Far Haven. And as a Western movie bad guy, he’s learned, “when you have to throw the gun down, they put a Furnie pad—a sound blanket—on the ground: and don’t you miss that pad! They’ll dub the ‘clunk’ in later.”

He was in Tucson, near the Western movie town of Mescal, for the filming of Far Haven. “I like doing Westerns. I think this has got to be my ninth or 10th Western.” The timing was a little awkward. “I have a Western that is the opening film in the Soho Film Festival, in New York, called The Redeemer. It premieres at six o’clock on October 6th, and I’ll be here on a horse and not there, doing another 1880s Western.” His part in The Redeemer is an exceptional, heroic role for Mulkey. He plays a family patriarch whose Civil War experiences have made him both a hero and a drunkard. When one son is murdered, and his wife (Irene Bedard) and daughter-in-law (Baylee Toney) are kidnapped, he and his other son must find them.

In Far Haven, “I’m really happy to play Sheriff King; I think William Shockley did a great job writing it. I’m here because of Bruce Boxleitner, who’s a wonderful actor. He plays Ben in the show, and he said, ‘You should get Chris Mulkey for the sheriff.’ So first of all, thank you, Bruce. Bruce’s character, Ben; and Marty Kove’s character, Ambrose Masse; and I, the three of us founded the town. Masse’s got the land, and Ben’s got less land because he was more honest. And I went into law enforcement, and when that didn’t work out, I started taking money. So, it’s an interesting hierarchy running this town.”

The overall story concerns widower Hunter Braddock, played by Bailey Chase from Longmire. He’s just out of prison, searching for his children, and finds them in the Arizona town of Far Haven, at the ranch of his in-laws, the skeptical Bruce Boxleitner and Nancy Stafford.

“Mescal is an amazing set. I came down early, I always like to be a couple, three days early, have my costume fitting, meet my horse, ride some, meet the wranglers. It’s a big town, a two and a half block town.” Mescal was built in 1969 for the Lee Marvin Western Monte Walsh. Since then, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, and nearly 100 other movies, and 100s of TV episodes, have filmed there. While most movie towns are flat, Mescal is built on a hill. “And the vista is amazing. I dare say that this movie is the real deal. We have a great cast and it’s just going to look great. And the stuff we’ve already shot—Marty Kove and I galloping up to Ben’s house. They’re shooting up at us, we’re on horseback, and unbeknownst to us—because we’re just acting—in back of us, the sky is just this exploding Technicolor thing. After they cut, they say, I don’t know whether you guys saw it, but this was the most beautiful shot.

“My horse is a great horse. That’s really good when you’re at full gallop, you’re busting out, and then you get to maybe 20 yards away, and you pull it up, and Bing! You hit the mark where the focus is, say your lines. It’s good.”

There’s some dialog in the script that makes Mulkey particularly happy. “You know, I get to say ‘bushwhacked’ in this movie! That’s right up there with, ‘You’d better get over to the Pendleton’s place, because the raiders hit their herd last night.’ That’s like Shakespeare of the west!”

Looking back to 1979, Mulkey recalls, “I did a big Western with Walter Hill, The Long Riders. Then I did my second Western in 1981 in Santa Fe, New Mexico with Belinda Bauer and Peter Coyote and Richard Masur, called Timerider,” a time-traveling Western co-written and produced by Monkees bassist Mike Nesmith. “And L.Q. Jones and I played partners. It was cool. I did a bunch of them. And I worked with Walter [Hill] again on Broken Trail. That was really good. I was the bad guy: Big Ears Bywater,” he says with a laugh. “And Bobby Duvall is great. He’s a wonderful actor, and so great to work with Thomas Haden Church, Greta Scacchi. I’m hoping to catch on at the INSP Network. I’d like to do Westerns over there and just sort of ride out into the sunset, in this fourth quarter of my acting career, and just do a bunch of Westerns.”


About Henry C. Parke

Henry’s new book, The Greatest Westerns Ever Made, and the People Who Made Them, published by TwoDot, is now available. The Brooklyn-born, L.A.-based writer has contributed articles to the INSP blog since 2016, been Film Editor for True West since 2015, and has written Henry’s “Western Round-up,” the online report on Western film production, since 2010. His screenwriting credits include Speedtrap (1977) and Double Cross (1994). He’s the first writer welcomed into the Western Writers of America for his work in electronic media. He’s done audio commentary on nearly 30 Spaghetti and domestic Westerns.