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Matt Barr Dishes Some Candid Thoughts On Walker, Jared Padalecki - Exclusive Interview

Even before he started yeehawing as Hoyt Rawlins on The CW's Walker, Texas native Matt Barr had already carved a significant space for himself in Hollywood's cowboy corner. With a filmography that includes a three-episode stint as Johnse Hatfield on Hatfields & McCoys, Barr has proven himself as a deft hand with this type of character. However, he's certainly not a one-trick pony — he's appeared in a wide variety of films and shows throughout his career.

In the early '00s, Barr landed guest roles on ER, CSI: Miami, Bones, and The O.C. before longer stints on series like One Tree Hill, Hellcats, Sleepy Hollow, and later headlining CBS' Blood & Treasure. Barr has starred in his fair share of movies as well, appearing in American Pie Presents: Band Camp, Ten Inch Hero, Undrafted, and The Layover.

Looper chatted with Matt Barr during an exclusive interview during which he dished on his arc on Walker, the early days of Danneel and Jensen Ackles on Ten Inch Hero, and what bloopers we might expect from Jared Padalecki in season 1 of Walker.

Caging a wild animal

So far, we only have two episodes of Hoyt, and everyone is already hooked. So can you tease where we can expect his character to go from here?

Well, because Hoyt's tail's in jail right now. And Captain James and Liam find out that the guy that they have in prison for Emily's murder, Carlos Mendoza, may have some more information about her death. So to catch a criminal by using a criminal, they enlist the help of Hoyt to do some digging behind bars — and Hoyt gladly accepts, because he loved Emily. And he loves Walker, and Hoyt's good at playing that game, and if he does this, he's going to get a reduced sentence. And Hoyt enjoys his freedom. You can't cage a wild animal, can you?

What do you think he's going to do first after he gets out of jail?

He's going to go right to Side Step. He's going to order a whiskey from Geri and then just plant a big fat one on her.

What have been your favorite and most challenging scenes to film so far?

That's a good question. It's a good question. The first scene I shot was when I wrestle with Jared when Hoyt sneaks up behind him and jumps on his back. And Jared's such a big guy. But for those that know, Jared's six foot five and super strong. So it was trying to jump up on him. And it was like a basketball player. So I didn't want to accidentally punch Jared in the face. But it was fun. It was good. I've known him a long time. So I said, "Hey man, if I accidentally clock you, we're still buddies, right?"

Don't mess with Texas

Where did you guys meet?

We met in Vancouver 14 years ago. He was shooting... season what of Supernatural?

Right, yeah. Season 2 or 3.

And I think I was doing a show called Harper's Island. So I mean, he and Jensen, and we're all Texans. So we connected on the whole Texas thing, and Jensen's from the Dallas area. So we're all big Cowboys fans. And anyway, we became sort of like brothers for life.

I love that. I hope the Walker cast and crew and your family are all safe after the brutal Texas storms that happened last month. Did that affect filming, sets, or timelines at all?

Yeah. Thank you for asking. Yeah. My family is doing fine. Thanks. It did. I think they had to shut down for a bit, so we're a little behind, but Texans are resilient, and everyone's okay. And things are back on track, so yeah.

That's good. Did any of the sets get injured?

Not that I know of. Not that I know. That's a good question. Maybe some of them... Yeah. I don't know, though. Yeah, I think everything's okay.

Smooth rider

Your character has a really special dynamic with Molly Hagan's Abeline Walker. I think everyone can use someone who's in their corner through the good and the bad, and it seems like Abeline is Hoyt's biggest cheerleader. Can you tease anything about that relationship going forward? And if she might be a driving force for Hoyt to maybe make some better choices in the future?

Yeah. I think Hoyt's very loyal to Walker, I mean to Cordell, but he does have a real deep-rooted place for Abeline and a huge affinity for her. And I think there's going to be seeing some drama that starts to unfold later in the season. Hoyt's going to have to make a tough choice. I don't want to over tease that, but I think we're going to witness his loyalty to her and to the whole family because he makes some pretty tough choices that are pretty unselfish. Coming from a relatively selfish dude, that shows that blood is pretty thick.

So Molly Hagan spilled the beans and told us that you can ride horses. Can we expect you to saddle up in the show?

You know what? That's a good question. I don't know the answer to that. I hope so. I've been talking to the writers the whole time about, "Get me on a horse." But I haven't been on one yet. We'll see. I'm working on that one.

Have you been able to ride any offscreen?

Yeah, well, sometimes, when I go home to Texas, when I'm seeing my family, I'll ride with some buddies of mine. But I haven't done an on-camera in a while. That's a good point. I'm a big fan of Westerns.

Texas charm

Like Jared Padalecki, you're a Texas native. Has that been helpful in taking on this role? And what aspects of your own Texas traditions or experiences, if any, did you bring to the role?

That's a great point. Yeah. I think just... 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.

I think like 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.

So I've always found that to be sexy about Texans. 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.

That was one of my favorite scenes. It's just so sweet and pure. I love that one.

Yeah, me too. Me too.

Jensen and Danneel Ackles: The Origin Story

In Ten Inch Hero, you had a scene with Jensen and Danneel Ackles before they even started dating. What was that on-set dynamic like? And how does that compare to Gen and Jared on Walker?

That's so funny. That's when they met. That's right. I always joke that I was why they got together, but we'll see. It's funny, you saw the sparks happening on that movie. No one's ever asked me this question. And that was 15 years ago, I think. You can see the explosion of passion and chemistry. So that was just so evident. It's funny now to see them, there's this whole family, and their children. It's just amazing to see. It's a neat genesis of that. 

So now, I don't know. Jared and Gen are very similar, but just really, they're all really connected. They're really good partners, I think. I don't know what the magic is in choosing the right partner, but Jared and Jensen, they really chose well, it seems like. And they're just teammates. And we should all hopefully be so lucky. It's funny. It's funny you brought that up. I haven't thought of Ten Inch Hero in a while. That's good.

Did you know Jensen before you filmed that movie?

No. No. I'm trying to think if I did. I don't think I did. I don't think I did, but what's funny is right after that movie, I went and shot One Tree Hill.

And Danneel was in that.

And Danneel was on that, so she introduced me, and so we became good friends. And I remember coming back to L.A., and going over to their house and stuff. It was a good time in life, seeing them grow into an amazing couple. Yeah. This was pre-kids.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere

What has been your favorite set or filming location so far?

You know what it is? I mean really, the Side Step set is just awesome. They built that, but it makes you just want to go hang there. It makes you want to bring in a band, and start dancing, and invite all your friends, and have a cold beer. It's awesome. I hope they can keep that set and make it a real bar there in Austin where they shoot Walker because it's pretty incredible.

I'm a New Yorker. So we don't have bars like that, where they just feel homey. Everything has got to be "cool." So I love that set. Let's talk about Denise. Is she a real boar head or a prop?

That's a good question. I believe that is a real boar's head. But that's a prop.

Okay. It looks really real, but I was like, "I don't know if I would want to be making out with a real boar's head." [Laughs]

Right. It made me think like, if I was going to be reincarnated, I don't know if I want to be a boar. They're pretty gnarly looking, but who knows? I mean, they're survivors. When all of us are gone, those guys are going to still be here. So I don't know.

These boots were made for pranking

We asked Molly Hagan if the Prank King, Jared Padalecki, has been up to any of his goofy stunts on the Walker set, but she came up blank. Have you had a different experience, or has he been on his best ranger behavior?

That's a good point. Jared's always having fun. He's the most light-hearted guy on set. You can tell how much he enjoys making this TV show, but maybe not, because Jared's juggling a lot of balls here.

He wears a lot of hats because he's a producer, and obviously the star of the show. I can only imagine how much work he's got to do when he even has a quick break. He's got, three kids. Gen, his wife, is there in the show as well, so...

Ah, she's the one keeping him in line. I didn't even think about that.

We all know this. We all know that she's the coolest chick out there. So Jared did good.

Can you tease anything that might end up in the gag reel?

Ooh, that's good. There's a scene in this coming episode where we're all drunk at Side Step. It's a flashback episode, and sometimes when you just start... When the giggles start, and you're shooting late at night, we're shooting with this boar head that we're trying to do. And Jared has to make out with Emily, who's his wife in real life.

And so we're all joking with them about how they're not... "But it doesn't look real. That's not how you... Kiss her better, buddy. Come on. She didn't marry you..." No, I'm kidding. It was just a fun night. And yeah. Odette, who plays Geri, she and I were having a ball, so I don't know.

Save a horse, ride a cowboy

Is there a particular Texan subject you'd like to see Walker tackle or a specific location where you'd like to film?

Oh, that's good. That's a great question. You know what'd be kind of fun? I spend a lot of time in South Padre Island in Texas. I go there every year, and it's right on the border of Mexico, Texas. It's the tip of Texas. And there's this beach energy vibe mixed with Southern Texas.

And so I always thought that was an interesting contrast, that you're not really in Mexico. You still feel very much like you're in this, like I said, that unique Texas salt. So to mix Texas ranger cowboy culture with the beach would be, I don't know, would be interesting. Maybe I can go down there and investigate something going on.

You had a pretty wild entrance on the show. How did you prepare for those scenes?

Believe it or not, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on male strippers, and I watched some of Channing Tatum going for it — and Magic Mike. So it was a funny list of, my Google search was like, "What are good male stripper moves?" That was a first for me. But you know what? I really just tried to wing it. When I got to set some of the extras there, the other dancers were legit male dancers.

And so they saw me warming up, and they pulled me over and said, "You know, man, that's lame. We wouldn't do that. So let us give you some tips." So these guys were great. They saved my butt there. And about five minutes before we rolled cameras, I was just back on the stage, like, "Okay. Sometimes in life, you just got to go jump. And so here we go. One way or the other, I'm doing this." So it was fun. Actually, it was kind of liberating.

Yeah, for sure. Especially since with quarantine and everything, I guess it was a nice change of pace from being shut up in your house or apartment.

Oh yeah. Oh, you're right — any chance to get out and just do something.

You're set free.

[Laughs] Yeah. Yeah. We'll see. Maybe in my next life, I'll be a dancer.

Noble cowboys

What drew you to the character and the series?

Well, the creators, 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. And I know a lot of the writing team at Walker. But I love Texas. I grew up watching Walker with Chuck Norris.

And it was actually my first time on a set. I was an extra on the original Walker. 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.

Yeah. Definitely.

This'll be fun. It's always fun. Those guys that have... 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.

The world needs Walker right now

I love it. Did you get a chance to work with Chuck Norris at all when you were on the show?

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.

That's awesome.

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."

Especially being from Texas.

Yeah. Big deal. Oh, big, big deal. So cool. Really fun.

What would you say to people who haven't tuned into this show? Why should they watch it? What's exciting about Walker?

I think, I mean, it blends the whole... I think some of whatever crime and the drama that they're investigating is very interesting. And the season-long arc of Emily's death, I think that the serialized part of that is interesting, but really, I think it's a family drama about people and families. And Walker reconnecting with his children and his parents and questioning his own ability to be resilient and move forward in life. I guess I find that all very relatable. If you're a human being, you will relate to this stuff.


So I think, in the same way that we liked Friday Night Lights wasn't really about football.

Right, right.

It was about community and the people. So I think Walker, this reincarnation of Walker, if you will, is, yeah, it's a very human drama, with this amazing backdrop. I know I'm partial, but there's just something romantic about Texas, the golden sunsets there, and it's a beautiful place.

Definitely, I think it's a show that we can all use right now. Very wholesome.

Yeah. Especially after a year of... I think a lot of us reconnected with our families. And our community. There's something... Yeah, like they say, you hear it a million times. It's the simple things in life. But man, it really is. That is where the juice is, you know?

The Texan and the cheerleader

Right. So we're going to go in another deep-cut direction. You worked with Aly Michalka and Ashley Tisdale on the CW cult classic Hellcats. What was that experience like? And what would you have liked to happen between Marti, Savannah, and Dan if the show got a season 2?

I know. We always wonder about that because we had so much fun shooting that. I loved doing Hellcats. I love both of them. So, so talented. I mean, I had the easiest job on the show because they had to go to cheerleading dance practice every second they had free on the weekends. And I was the one that could go out and grab some food or something.

But I don't know. I learned... I actually learned a lot from them. They both had a lot of success in their careers, and I remember just seeing how they handled it with class, and just their work ethic was really amazing. And they're both so different too, in certain ways. So yeah, we're all really good friends.

What would happen? I don't know. You know, we all thought that show was going to go a while. And I was excited to see Dan get more into his filmmaking career.

He was this Spielberg protege, if you will. And I thought they took their time with... Dan and Marti had a really strong connection. And I saw, maybe the long game, I always saw them ending up together, and maybe having a few blonde kids because we had some blonde.

There was a lot of blond hair going on there, I think. Yeah, that's a really talented cast, and I really loved that show. All the set pieces, and the whole... Not every episode, but most episodes had a big performance. And it was just really well done.

It was a really fun show.

Yeah. Yeah. Love those peeps.

The brains and the brawn

What was the transition like coming from CBS' Blood & Treasure to Walker?

That is funny because I did fly straight from Italy, where we're shooting Blood & Treasure, straight to Austin.

Oh wow.

So that was definitely a change of pace. You know what? It was, I think, just Danny and Hoyt are so different, the two characters, and Danny is a little more smooth around the edges and refined. And I would call him more of an intellectual, where Hoyt's a salt of the earth cowboy. And it's funny when the accent starts to come out. Every time I'm back in Texas, it's like I'm around my mom, or if I get around my friends or anything, it just comes out. So I think it was trying to make that transition as quickly as I could because I had to film in a few days after playing the antiquities expert, Danny McNamara.

What are your thoughts on the Blood & Treasure season 1 finale, and what can we expect from season 2?

Well, what's fun about season 2 is when we... There's a bit of a cliffhanger with season 1. The iceberg always gets a bit deeper. And so we pick up six months after season 1. So everything's still very much in play from season 1. And there's something very, very pivotal that happens in the first episode of season 2 that sets us off on the whole season arc of season 2. And it was pretty shocking. It's interesting where we meet Danny and Lexi at the end of season one. There's been somewhat of a closure of their journey. And then it's amazing how such is life, there's something else that creates this new, not friction, but you have some kind of conflict for them to deal with over this new hunt. It's really, really well crafted and written. Having been in relationships throughout my life, it's very rooted in reality.

12 Mighty Orphans

Is there anything else you'd like to add about the show or anything else that you're doing in the future? Any projects we have to look forward to?

Yeah. I do. I produced a movie called 12 Mighty Orphans, which is going to be released sometime this year. We're not quite sure because of the pandemic, but it's another Texas story about an orphan football team during the Depression.

Oh wow.

Yeah. It's really incredible. We've got Luke Wilson, and Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. It's a great cast, and it's a huge passion project of mine — about 15 years in the making. And I optioned the rights to that book years ago. So it's been a long journey to the screen. And so yeah, Sony Picture Classics is going to release it, and we'll stay tuned as we navigate these interesting times.

Will it be on demand or in theaters?

I think both. Stay tuned. I think it's going to be released both streaming and theatrically, yeah. But yeah. 12 Mighty Orphans. Yeah, coming soon.

Definitely looking forward to that.

Fans can watch Matt Barr be his bad cowboy self by tuning in to the CW's Walker on Thursday nights.