WALKER, TEXAS RANGER - getTV Interview with Sheree J. Wilson
Walker, Texas Ranger is now on getTV and we were thrilled to talk with one of its stars - the lovely Sheree J. Wilson. For eight seasons, the talented actress played Assistant District Attorney Alex Cahill alongside Rangers Cordell Walker (Chuck Norris) and Jimmy Trivette (Clarence Gilyard). We recently sat down with Sheree to learn how her tomboy upbringing helped her in Hollywood, the importance of her extended Walker family, and returning to the stage with a dear friend.
It's so great to meet you, Sheree! How are you?
I couldn’t be better. Are you kidding me? I’m here with my favorite peeps. [laughs - she was just sitting with her Walker co-star and friend Clarence Gilyard]
I know! You and Clarence have known one another for some time now.
We have had such a great friendship. You know, we’re neighbors. We live at the beach together. We've worked together. We’ve raised our children together. And we’re still working together.
It's incredible that you're acting in Driving Miss Daisy together. I'll share your website ShereeJWilson.com so people can follow all your tour dates.
Excellent! We’re just having a ball. And, you know, when you work with somebody for 9 years straight, 12 hours a day, you get to know each other's idiosyncrasies, habits, what you like for breakfast, etc. It’s just like being with a family member.
We’ve sold out everywhere from Albuquerque to South Carolina. Texas - we just did five days in Dallas. Oh my gosh. We had such a great time because all the Walker, Texas Ranger crew - the hairdressers, drivers, grips, gaffers - everybody showed up. Chuck Norris’ son, Mike Norris, was in the front row waving at me. [laughs]
Oh my God. It’s like a family reunion.
It was. You know, Walker does live on.
It does. We're so excited to have the show on getTV.
Your character on Walker - Assistant District Attorney Alex Cahill - is a woman working with all these men, but you have such great balance. You manage all of that testosterone without it seeming overpowering. How did you craft that character?
You know, it’s interesting because Alex Cahill is very much in my DNA. She was not a far stretch for me. My dad thought he was going to have a boy, and then he had my sister. Then he thought he was going to have a boy, and he had me. And he treated us like we were [boys]... he was like, "Cut the grass, go mow, do this, do that," you know? You want a new bicycle? Let’s go to the junkyard, we’ll build one after getting all the pieces. I mean, literally. I grew up in Colorado. I had horses growing up. I grew up skiing, hiking. I was an all-around gymnast. I ran track and field.
I lived in that world of physicality as an athlete, so the martial arts and all of the action - the physicality that it took on the show - was second nature to me because that’s how I’ve lived my whole life. I love these guys. So it’s fun. Working with men that you adore, you respect. And I mean, Chuck is the real deal. He’s 9 times the World Karate Champion.
So it wasn’t like make believe or pretend for any of us. We all just jumped in with both feet and got along so famously. The chemistry and the play it was easy. I hate to say it, but it was just fun. I couldn’t wait to go to work every day.
As it should be. Right?
Exactly. Isn’t that the way life is supposed to be? Do what you love. Love what you do. And if you don’t, do something else.
Right. And you had worked with Chuck in the movie Hellbound. Is that how you met?
Yes. This is the funniest story ever. Talk about being physically fit. The movie was supposed to originally be shot in Chicago, and then they switched the venue to Israel. That was a huge shift. Well, we got over there and the script wasn’t quite ready. So here’s Benny “The Jet” Uriquidez (kickboxing champion of the world), Carlos Machado from the Machado brothers (jujitsu champion of the world), and Chuck Norris and his black belt, and they say, “Well, come on, Sheree. You got a free day, let’s work out.” I swear, the warm-up was 35-45 minutes. I thought we were done. They go, “Oh, that’s just the stretch.” I was like, "What?!" Then we went to the gym. Then we did the karate kicks. [laughs]
Wow. Sounds fun, if not more than a bit strenuous.
I’d never been so fit in my life as when I started that movie. Chuck and I were having a great run on the film. Then it was about 3-4 weeks into the movie, and he walks in and he’s got this smile on his face the size of Texas. I go, “What? What?” He’s like the cat that swallowed the canary. I say, “What is up? You’re acting so weird.” [laughs] He’s just smiling at me. He goes, “It seems like they want this actress named Sheree J. Wilson to play the assistant district attorney on my TV series.”
That's how you found out about the part?
I'll back up a bit. The week before I left [to shoot Hellbound], Mary Jo Slater, a casting director, brought me into CBS and said, "We don’t even have the script yet, but you’re going to be out of the country and I think you’re right for a part. I’m going to put you on tape with old LA Law dialogue." [laughs]
So [into the Hellbound shoot] Chuck tells me, “Come over after work, they sent all the tapes.” We’d sit in his suite looking at all the audition tapes. And of course I said, “Oh, that woman, you’re not going to get along with her. She’s very difficult.” [laughs] So we wrapped the movie on December 22nd and we were in Texas on January 8th, I believe.
It was like we went home, we had Christmas, we packed up, and we moved to Texas.
It's clear that you were perfect for the role. Your character seemed to fit you like a glove.
It sure did. It was working with Chuck for those three months in Israel from September to December. He got to know how fit I was, what my chops were, you know, that I memorize really easily so you won’t scare me with a ton of dialogue. I kind of have a photographic memory. He got to know me as an actress as well as a person. He knew what my physical strengths were and that I wasn’t afraid of anything.
Exactly. And then how were you able to evolve on the show as well?
I actually wrote one episode of Walker. I co-wrote it with a dear friend. We got into the show and after several episodes, I was like, "These writers don’t know who our characters are. They have no idea what are backstories are, what we mean to each other." So I came up with a storyline that Walker gets thrown into a coma. CBS said, “No way. We’re not putting our hero into a coma.” And I said, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. He’s going to be in coma, but everybody’s going to visit him at his bedside and you’re going to find out in flashbacks how we all met. That will define the characters - when did they first meet each other, how did they feel about each other when they met, and how has their relationship evolved to what it is today." And it was in the top ten - one of the highest rated episodes. I will have to brag. [laughs]
Brag away, Sheree. [laughs] Do you remember what that episode is called?
“Till Death Do Us Part.”
It's obvious that one of the biggest reasons for the success of the show is the family unit that you all had. That comes out in everything you've said.
We were such a family. We cared about each other so much. What we do in life and as characters, it transcends and it jumps through that fourth wall. People feel like tuning in with other members of their family because they become invested in the characters. In this very troubled world we have right now, it’s almost... I hate to turn on the news right now. It’s horrifying. And our show is about good morals and values.
There’s a message in every one of our episodes. It kind of feels like The Lone Ranger. The good guys always win. The bad guys always lose. They have consequences. And in this day and age, people want to know that there’s some hope out there and that there is justice being served. That there is a show that their mothers and grandmothers and children can all watch and it’s not going to offend anybody. And that it’s going to hopefully entertain, uplift, or inspire.
I agree. You were part of a very special show, Sheree. We're thrilled it’s on getTV.
I’m honored and blessed. I mean, I count my blessings every day, say my gratitude list - you know, my family, my friends. But also for Walker, Texas Ranger. [laughs]
Yes, of course! Well, thank you so much for talking with me today. I really appreciate it.
Oh, my pleasure. It’s a gift for me. I’m thrilled that we’re going to have a wildly successful run on getTV!