The actor had been living in Los Angeles for a year before getting the call that he was cast in A&E’s “Longmire” as “The Ferg” Ferguson. It’s been over a year since the series premiered, and Bartley’s life has changed for the better
“The show is amazing, and it’s great to be part of this family,” he says. “When I was flying to Santa Fe to film the pilot, all of the cast was at the airport with the exception of Robert (Taylor). It was at that moment I knew I was part of something special.”
“Longmire” is a crime drama series that is based on the Longmire mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson. It follows Walt Longmire, played by Taylor, the sheriff of fictional Absaroka County, Wyo., as he returns to work following the death of his wife.
The series premiered in June 2012 to record ratings for the network and was renewed after its second episode. The season finale was watched by 4.3 million viewers in August. Overall, the first season averaged 4 million total viewers, making it one of the highest-rated cable shows and the network’s No. 1 original drama series of all time.
The series returns at 8 p.m. Monday on A&E. It is filmed at Garson Studios in Santa Fe.
“It’s a special time in life right how,” Bartley says. “Everyone was surprised by the success, but when you step back and look at it, the show is written well and just has something special. I think that’s what resonated with the audiences.”
Bartley says “The Ferg” is a beautiful character to play and that there has been a lot of growth in his character as a deputy.
“In the first few episodes of last year, Ferg turns in his badge to Walt because he doesn’t believe he can do the job,” he explains. “Walt gives his badge back. This is when Ferg starts to realize that he should believe in himself.”
Through the rest of the first season, “The Ferg” becomes more confident in his skin and as a deputy.
“There’s the acceptance of his quirky ways,” he says. “The other characters begin to see that his style does help in solving the crimes. It’s not always a clear shot. I mean, he loves rocks and minerals and ends up solving a crime by knowing this stuff. I think a lot of people can connect with the awkwardness that he has.”
Without giving too much away, Bartley says the new season amps up with a strong storm.
Walt depends more on “The Ferg” and is trusting him to handle things.
“The relationships are developing among the deputies, and Ferg is no longer the hapless freshman,” he says. “Walt and Ferg’s relationship continues to grow and, of course, it’s always entertaining.”
Bartley lives part time in Los Angeles and part time in New Mexico. When he’s not filming “Longmire,” he can be found on his motorcycle driving through the state.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Colorado and New Mexico, even before I got this role,” he says. “When I’m here, my cellphone goes quiet and the circles under my eyes go away. I’m rejuvenated here, and Santa Fe has a great energy. The people are so down to earth, and you can’t really beat a New Mexico sunset.”