David Oyelowo on his ‘absolute obsession’ with ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ character 

The standalone anthology series from Paramount+ comes to an end on Sunday

It’s already time for the season finale of “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” and it’s hard to believe the fantastic drama that stars David Oyelowo is winding down its first season. 

One of the best new shows to hit the small screen this year chronicles the untold story of a real American hero who rose from enslavement to law enforcement as one of the first Black U.S. Marshals west of the Mississippi. 

The Paramount+ series made history as the most-watched global premiere of the year for Paramount+ with an average global audience of 7.5 million.

Oprah Winfrey Hosts Special Los Angeles Event For Paramount+'s "Lawmen: Bass Reeves" - Arrivals
David Oyelowo attends Oprah Winfrey Hosts Special Los Angeles Event For Paramount ‘s “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” at Sunset Tower Hotel on December 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images) Credit: Photo byAlberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

The anthology series, produced by “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan, is a standalone, which means we may be done with this iteration. That’s a hard pill to swallow when something so good finally arrives and we have to let it go as quickly as we fell in love with it. 

The gritty drama grapples with complexities of the time that are still relevant today. Oyelowo does a masterful job in the role that helps highlight a less-examined part of our history. His work in front of the camera already scored a Critic’s Choice Awards nomination and a Golden Globes nomination for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.

Despite his stellar performance as the star of the show, the work Oyelowo put in behind the scenes is even more impressive. The actor who serves as an executive producer on the series first began work on the project in 2014. 

“It was back in 2014 that I was first introduced to the story and I did a little bit of a dive. I just couldn’t understand why this wasn’t someone regarded with the likes of Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid, or just one of these names that roll off your tongue when you think of the Westerns,” he said during an exclusive interview with theGrio.

“On top of that, this is someone who came out of enslavement into a degree of empowerment. That was extraordinary at that time and he had a 32-year career doing this. It just didn’t make sense outside of the darker corners of why our industry (and I mean the entertainment industry) has not leaned into certain characters as much as they do elsewhere.”


Once the award-winning actor, who has portrayed prolific men including Martin Luther King, Jr., in “Selma,” learned more about the character, he was hooked. “It became an absolute obsession for me. I just felt like, ’there’s no way another generation goes by without this character having their moment.’”

The actor opened up about what it took to master the role and why it took so long for this story of a true, American hero to come to light. Stay tuned for the full interview, coming soon on Acting Up. 

The extraordinary cast includes Joaquina Kalukango, Lonnie Chavis, Tosin Morohunfola, Dale Dickey, Rob Morgan, Ryan O’Nan, Margot Bingham, Mo Brings Plenty, Justin Hurtt-Dunkley and Bill Dawes.

If you haven’t caught up with this standout series, now is the time.

The finale of “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” premieres Dec. 17 on Paramount+.

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