LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT IN THE WRONG
A Conversation with LONGMIRE Actor BAILEY CHASE
By Eden Herbstman
You could say Bailey Chase is a man of the law…his own law that is. As one of the leading actors on A & E‘s hit western crime drama Longmire, his character Deputy Branch Connally knows how to stir the pot and fuel the fire. Branch is a go-getter in every sense, he knows what he wants and doesn’t stop until he gets there. He’s the foil to Sheriff Walt Longmire, and each leading man approaches issues of power and responsibility differently, all set within the small town life of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Some would call Branch ambitious, others maybe the modern day Machiavelli.
Branch’s honor and loyalty are “questionable” at times, but that is precisely what makes him so compelling. Bailey Chase, of course, knows the ins and outs of his character and isn’t afraid to push the limits. Before Bailey put his cowboy boots on for Longmire, he starred as Detective Butch Ada on Saving Grace, a detective with a clearer moral compass than Branch. It’s through Branch’s complexities and flaws though that Bailey can find the humanity and excitement in his character. But don’t let the pretty smile and cowboy hat fool you, there is a lot more to Branch than meets the eye. And more to Bailey Chase as well…
Eden Herbstman: What was the first acting job you had, and how was that experience?
Bailey Chase: Married with Children. It was surreal. The whole time I was like: “Holy shit, I’m working with Al Bundy!”
EH: What do you look for in choosing a character to play? And how do you go about bringing that character to real life?
BC: I look for compelling angles (usually flaws) justifying your character’s actions (without judging), then let it all go. Good writing and a little imagination is a great head start.
EH: You play hunky deputy Branch Connally in Longmire. But you not only portray a cop on Longmire, you were also one on Saving Grace as well. Is there something specific about characters in law enforcement that compel you as an actor?
BC: Branch is hunky? Kidding. I don’t have any specific reason for playing cops, but I do feel an obligation to get it right. An old acting coach told me let them put you in a box, then break out of that stereotype down the road. I’m still working on the down the road part.
EH: How did you prepare for your role as Branch? Did you read any of the books by Craig Johnson that the show is based on to get a feel for the world?
BC: I read The Cold Dish which the pilot drew heavily from. However, Branch is the only main character not in the books. I kind of like that. It gives me free license to do whatever.
EH: You’re originally from the south, so did that help anyway in preparing for this role?
BC: I love having southern roots, and yeah some of my redneck buddies have rubbed off on me and into my characters. The fact that Branch was a bronc rider and a golfer are two traits he shares with my own DNA.
EH: What is the difference between shooting on location rather than in Los Angeles? Does that change the dynamics of the set and your ability to bring a more authentic touch to it?
BC: Big difference. I can’t imagine shooting Longmire in LA. It would feel more like every other show. Look what happened to Vegas, no thanks.
EH: Branch is definitely the antagonist on the show. How do you approach playing this type of complex and flawed character?
BC: Good question. Like I said I look for exactly those flaws then justify my actions. After that I’m off to the races! What would Superman be without Kryptonite? He needs it to make him relatable, more human.
EH: As a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire the Slayer I have to ask: Team Angel, Team Spike, or Team Riley?
BC: Riley. Job hazard.
EH: Do you have any interesting projects coming up that you’d like to tell us about?
BC: Tao of Surfing is a film I’m shooting with Lou Diamond Phillips. It’s a beautiful story. I don’t want to give away too much, but my character becomes the catalyst for his best friend, played by Eric Balfour, with surfing as the backdrop. The photography is also stunning.
Bailey Chase is an actor. He is most known for his roles on Saving Grave, Buffy the Vampire the Slayer, As the World Turns, and Ugly Betty. He currently stars as Deputy Branch Connally on A&E’s Longmire.
Written by Eden Herbstman
Photography by David Crotty for PatrickMcMullan.com
Design by Marie Havens
Bailey Chase, TV Guide Magazine’s 2012 Hot List Party, Skybar at Mondrian, West Hollywood, CA, November 12, 2012, Photography by David Crotty for PatrickMcMullan.com