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Tom Pelphrey On Why Filming Outer Range Was A 'Really Cool Challenge' – Exclusive

On "Outer Range," Tom Pelphrey plays Perry Abbott, whose family owns and operates a cattle ranch. But it's not just any ranch, it's a ranch with a secret — a giant mystery hole that bends and warps time manifests on the land. That hole is used to keep Perry out of trouble after he beats his next-door neighbor to death for saying the wrong thing.

When we first meet Perry, he is already a broken man, as his wife has been missing for nine months, leaving him to care for their young daughter. He's clearly a shell of who he once was, which leads him to a drunken night with his brother Rhett (Lewis Pullman) that ends in a deadly brawl. To keep his boys out of jail, patriarch Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) dumps the body in the mystery hole in hopes of throwing off the police — and all that happens in just the first episode of "Outer Range," which is now available on Prime Video.

For Pelphrey, starring on the series is the next big step in his budding career, which includes two Daytime Emmy Awards for his role on "Guiding Light" and a star turn on Season 3 of "Ozark" playing Laura Linney's bipolar brother Ben. But it was also his most challenging role to date, which Pelphrey recently discussed during an exclusive interview with Looper.

Pelphrey thought his character skirted the line of being 'repellent'

For Tom Pelphrey, the dark challenges he faced with his "Outer Range" character are what made the role interesting for him. "With Perry, what was intimidating and challenging to me was that we meet this character in crisis, so the stasis of Perry is crisis," said Pelphrey. "The first frame we see him, his wife has been missing for nine months ... We meet this man close to broken."

Things quickly go from bad to worse in the first episode of "Outer Range," when Perry gets drunk and beats the son of a competing rancher to death.

"Total crisis," said Pelphrey. "He's completely ruined his life, and possibly completely ruined his daughter's life ... The challenge for me is, when I first read these things, I try and read them as objectively as possible before I let myself put the blinders on and only think about the character. At first, when I'm reading it, I'm like, 'Man, that's a lot. That's a lot to ask the audience to go on a ride with while holding them at arm's length.' If a character is too much too soon, it can be repellent."

He continued, "I thought it was a very unique way to introduce a character. I thought it was a really cool challenge as an actor because ... the pain that he's in is the catalyst for the rest of the show."

In "Outer Range," there are two competing storylines that make up the series — Royal finding the mystery hole and Perry killing Trevor. But despite the sadness, anger, and violence that surrounds his character, Pelphrey finds the role to be very alluring.

"It was a very beautiful script to work on because you're like, 'How do we bring in the colors and put them in the right places where we get to maybe see this man as he was nine months and one day ago, so that he's not just this broken thing?'" he said. "He is that, but he is also a dad, a son. He was another guy that we never got to see. Usually, we get to see that guy and then something happens and we see the effect of it and we go on that journey as an audience. 'Outer Range' comes in with Perry and says, 'Here's this broken man' ... That was the challenge for me, and it was exciting."

All eight episodes of "Outer Range" are now available on Prime Video.