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The Surprising Connection Walker's Matt Barr Has With Chuck Norris' Walker, Texas Ranger - Exclusive

Any Texan knows how big of a deal Chuck Norris' Walker, Texas Ranger was in the '90s, but, now that The CW has reimagined the original show for modern audiences, fans, and the show's own actors just can't get enough. With an early season 2 renewal and a few extra episodes added to the debut season, the revamped series clearly lives up to — if not surpassing — the legacy of the original show. Mind you, a part on Walker is the role of a lifetime for any Texan. Centering on Jared Padalecki's Cordell Walker, the series hones in on the Texas Rangers with an emphasis on tackling some of the social issues that were missing from the original series.

However, Texas native Matt Barr — who plays the lovably reckless Hoyt Rawlins on Walker — has ties to both series. Looper chatted with Barr during an exclusive interview in which he dished on all things Texas and his history with Chuck Norris — every Texas kid's dream.  

Hoyt and Han: the bad (cow)boys

Numerous characteristics drew Matt Barr to his character, Hoyt, and his Texas upbringing is just a part of it. "Well, the creator, Anna Fricke, who's the showrunner, who I did a show called Valor with a few years ago, she's the one that reached out to me about it. I just love her so much," Barr said. "And I know a lot of the writing team at Walker. But I love Texas. I grew up watching Walker, [Texas Ranger] with Chuck Norris." However, Barr's connection to Norris didn't stop with admiration. As a budding actor, he actually got to appear in an episode of the series.

"And it was actually, my first time on a set, I was an extra on the original Walker," Barr noted, recalling his interest in his role on the rebooted series. "And Jared's one of the greatest guys you'll ever meet, and I knew he was involved. So I think, yes. Any chance to put on some boots, and a cowboy hat... And Hoyt's so reckless, and fearless, and loose, he reminds me of a Han Solo or something." Some characters are just hard to resist, and Hoyt has certainly become one of them.

Cowboys with hearts of gold

Ruminating about his role, Matt Barr thought, "'This'll be fun. It's always fun.' Those guys ... They're trivial in a lot of ways, but you know their heart's in the right place. At the end of the day, they're still noble. So those are fun characters to play." Barr agreed with the statement that these kinds of characters are bad boys with hearts of gold. Both fans and actors just can't kick them — and we don't want to, either.

Most extras on a series don't actually get to work or interact with the star of the show, but luckily for a young Barr, his experience on the set of Walker, Texas Ranger was different. On whether or not he got to work with Norris, Barr said, "I did. Well, yeah. So he ran into this cabin, barn thing, and he asked, 'where did they, the bad guy, run to?' And I pointed like, 'That way.' And so then he runs that way. And that was my film debut." Not too shabby for a young Texan just starting his acting career! And an appearance on Walker, Texas Ranger would undoubtedly win any young Texan bragging rights with their friends, and Barr was quick to affirm. "But I was the happiest 11-year-old you'll ever meet, I think. I was so excited. Told all my friends and my family about it. I was like, 'Oh my God.'" At the mention of how much more the role means in Texas, he agreed: "Yeah. Big deal. Oh, big, big deal. So cool. Really fun."

The salt of a Texan

Anyone who hails from Texas is, of course, going to have a much smoother transition on a show like Walker. Both Jared Padalecki and Matt Barr are Texas natives, so we asked Barr if that's been helpful in taking on this role — and what aspects of his own Texas traditions or experiences, if any, he brought to the table?  "That's a great point," he said. "Yeah. I think there is just something in the salt of a Texan. It's just the way you walk. It's the way you talk. It's the way you interact with people. I remember talking with Molly Hagan about this, where there's a certain etiquette to Texans." 

Barr explained, "I think Texans are raised to be gentlemen, especially being a man, your mom, your aunt, your grandma, they really instill that in you. And I remember when I was shooting a scene with Molly, and I went to pick her up. I thought Hoyt would take his hat off before he gave her a hug because that's the etiquette." Those little quirks that only a Texan would know and think of are what really makes the series a special love letter to the area. You just can't buy that kind of authenticity. 

"So I've always found that to be sexy about Texans," Barr added. "Texans are work hard, play hard, and maybe can be rough around the edges, but they're really full class. And there's a lot of emphasis on tradition and etiquette. I find that balance sexy." Any new Walker fans getting lassoed in just now can tune in to The CW on Thursday nights to watch everyone's favorite cowboys kick butt and take names.