Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

1923's Brandon Sklenar Appreciates That Africa Is A Long Way From Santa Clarita

One of the primary journeys in Taylor Sheridan's "1923" is not just an emotional one, but a very real and literal geographic one. When we first meet Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) he's in Kenya, which at the time of the story is still colonized by Britain. He's deep in the savannahs, hiring himself out to protect hunting parties and encampments from leopards, lions, and other big game. In his own words, he has no destination, just a series of next stops in his life. But after his fiancée Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer) urges him to read through years of unopened letters from his family, he learns that their ranch is in dire straits back in the United States. Spencer and Alex then begin the long trek from the Horn of Africa to the mountain ranges of Montana.

If the Season 1 finale is any indication, Spencer, Alexandra, and the audience have probably seen the last of Spencer's safaris and related adventures — no more scrambling up trees to escape packs of carnivorous cats. If we know anything about "1923," though, there will be plenty of more perils facing them as they try to get back to the United States, which is to say nothing of the armed sheepherders and the sadistic gold mining magnate that wait for them in Montana. But for Sklenar, filming Spencer's adventures on the African savannahs were an experience he won't soon forget.

We're not in Santa Clarita anymore...

In a video interview with TVLine, Brandon Sklenar spoke about how being on location in Kenya, Djibouti, and South Africa — where Spencer's scenes in British East Africa were filmed — really helped him settle into the reality of his character. Spencer's experiences on the African continent seemed more believable to Sklenar because, well, he was actually there. 

"It does so much," he said. "To not be in — not that there's anything wrong with Santa Clarita — but to not be in Santa Clarita, or on a sound stage somewhere ... your imagination is really able to run wild, because they take care of so many things for you. And I think your ability to be present just goes through the roof, because you're there. You're not trying to imagine this or that or the other thing."

As the interviewer Kim Roots also commented, this comes at a time when many shows are looking to cut costs, opting to shoot scenes that take place in far-flung locations on green screen rather than go to the expense of flying cast members halfway across the world. By contrast, Taylor Sheridan is known for being both demanding and exacting when it comes to the authenticity of his shows, most notably through his cowboy camp requirements for his casts. Flying the cast to a whole different continent is on a very different level, but if Sklenar is to be believed, it also makes a difference in the actors' performance.