Is the Robert Taylor, who stars on A&E’s “Longmire,” related to Robert Taylor, the classic film star of the 1940s and 1950s?
—Liam McQueen, Scottsdale, Ariz.
No relation. In fact, the “Longmire” Robert Taylor isn’t even American, but rather hails from Down Under. Still, he has a fun story about sharing his name with a Hollywood movie star.
“When I was in a kid, I lived in northwestern Australia, which is three times the size of Texas. I was in a Cub Scout group. Aboriginal people had a habit of naming their kids after movie stars. So there were four of us in my group: Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Matt Dillon and Robert Taylor. Obviously, I wasn’t an Aboriginal kid. Robert Taylor was my dad’s name.”
“Longmire,” based on the series of novels by Craig Johnson, is the story of Walt Longmire, a recently widowed Wyoming sheriff who lives his life by the cowboy code. It wasn’t the first American series that Taylor auditioned for, but it is the first one to make it to the air. He filmed a pilot here in the U.S. about 20 years ago that never got picked up, so he returned to Australia to work and has an impressive list of credits to show for it.
So when the producers of “Longmire” decided to cast a fresh face in the role, but also needed someone of a certain age and experience to play the sheriff, they found both qualities in Taylor. For his part, Taylor was familiar with the American West, having spent some time in New Mexico years before the series began shooting there. Plus, he had the added advantage of having grown up watching American television.
“[American television] is the world’s TV,” says the actor best known here in the U.S. for his role as Agent Jones in “The Matrix.” ‘I just want to work on good stuff. It’s an international industry. I’ve worked in Ireland, England, New Zealand, Asia and Canada. This is an amazing project with some amazing people, and it’s not renouncing my homeland at all to have the privilege of coming here and working with these people on this show. It’s a great honor for me. I’ve just got to try not to mess it up.”