Billy the Kid captures the imagination of many across the world.
For Tom Blyth, who grew up in England, the outlaw, born William H. Bonney, is the definition of the Wild West.
When it came time for Blyth to step into his shoes for the Epix TV series, “Billy the Kid,” there was some pressure. It was one that he could handle.
“I’ve always been interested in Western stories,” he says. “Michael Hirst wrote an incredible script. (Michael and I) have a similar, weird fascination with Billy the Kid. We both grew up in Yorkshire, England. The stories of traveling West and trying to find a better life is something that I really latch onto. Being able to stake that little bit of paradise.”
“Billy the Kid” premiered on April 24 and airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on Epix.
The 8-episode series is an epic romantic adventure based on the life of famous American outlaw Billy the Kid – from his humble Irish roots, to his early days as a cowboy and gunslinger in the American frontier, to his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond.
Daniel Webber plays Jesse Evans, another famous outlaw and leader of the Seven Rivers Gang. When they meet, Evans has already embraced a life of crime: robbing stores and cattle rustling. Billy the Kid is attracted to his wild and reckless character and becomes Evans’ doppelganger of sorts – his shadow self, forever inviting him over to the dark side of life.
Hirst wrote the series and also serves as an executive producer alongside Donald De Line, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Otto Bathurst and Toby Leslie.
Blyth says the first season has been a great experience and he’s found out so much more about Billy the Kid.
“Billy was a great rider, shooter and killer,” Blyth says. “He loved to sing and dance. He was charismatic as people were drawn to him.”
De Line and Hirst filmed the production in Calgary, Canada. Though they did try to film in New Mexico.
“There are variables with productions that come into play,” De Line says. “We looked at New Mexico and there was no room for the production. We also had to deal with filming during a pandemic.”
Despite New Mexico not being chosen to film the series, Blyth took the time before filming to visit New Mexico.
“Right before filming, I drove out to New Mexico and visited Lincoln, Silver City and Fort Sumner,” Blyth says. “I couldn’t hit many more places because I wanted to spend more than a day in each area to properly get the feel.”
While traveling the same path as Billy the Kid, Blyth was impressed by New Mexico.
“(New Mexico) has a forever place in my heart,” he says. “There’s something magical about how the light hits the landscape. Settlers must have been in awe of it. I found that New Mexicans also revere Billy the Kid as a person. I heard many stories of his time New Mexico and I’m excited to be part of the journey.”
Blyth says while Billy the Kid is known for his outlaw days, the series takes a look at his early life.
He experienced a lot before he was even an adult, he continues.
“After playing this role, I’m looking at the world with a lot more grounding and I feel heavier in knowing who I am,” he says. “I lost my father at a young age and Billy is fighting with grief nearly his whole life. I came out of this feeling a little more in tune to deal with loss and move through the world. It makes you a little more empathetic.”