THE YOUNG RIDERS - getTV Interview with Ty Miller
getTV is known as the home to so many westerns - from rare TV westerns of the 1950s and 1960s like The Restless Gun to a more recent series like The Young Riders. The Young Riders tells the story of Pony Express riders in the Nebraska territory during the years leading up to the Civil War. Ty Miller starred on the 1990s show along with a cast that also included Josh Brolin and Stephen Baldwin. We recently spoke with Ty about his love of westerns and his days playing The Kid.
Prior to starring in The Young Riders, were you a fan of westerns?
Oh yes, I watched a lot of westerns growing up. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid [with Paul Newman and Robert Redford] is my favorite western film. Little Big Man [with Dustin Hoffman] is great, too. On TV, Wild Wild West, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman. Those are some great shows, and great casts in all of them.
Were there similarities between the character of The Kid and yourself?
Definitely there were some similarities. As with any role, it’s hard to separate an actor from their character entirely. I’m not sure how to define it, but I think we shared some of the same sensibilities...perhaps the desire to do the right thing. I’ve probably changed in many ways, too, though. In 25 years since, I imagine I don’t see the world in such absolutes anymore.
What was your greatest challenge in playing the role?
I think my greatest challenge was in trusting myself, but that remains my greatest challenge today.
I think many of us have that as a challenge. That said, most might assume your greatest challenge on the series would be the physical component of it - all the riding, for example. Were there trainers on set to teach the cast to ride?
We had some of the best stunt people and wranglers in the business. Monty Stuart - stunt coordinator. Richard and Rose Lundin - head wranglers. Lots of rodeo people in the crew. They, and a bunch of other people, made everyone look great. It wasn’t too long before we all got pretty comfortable. They went out of their way to share their knowledge with us. This is an opportunity to mention the whole crew and production team of The Young Riders. There was a great camaraderie within the whole group, and I think everyone got along well. It makes for a good atmosphere on set, which translates to a good thing on screen, in my opinion.
Did anyone on the cast stand out as far as their riding skills?
I think Josh had the most time in the saddle and was the best rider at the start. You can kind of track the progression of all of our riding skills as the show goes on, but you have to overlook the opening credits!
Another skill that you had to master was shooting. Which cast member was the best shot? Were there any friendly competitions?
We had a friendly competition before the pilot started filming. I won that one, but on any given day it would have been either me or Josh as the best shot (art imitates life!). I had been shooting all types of guns growing up and Josh did, too, if I recall.
In Season 1, you starred with Oscar winner Melissa Leo. What was she like to work with?
She is a fantastic person. Down-to-earth. Smart. Generous. Humble. Funny. Considerate. That’s just what I know about her from our brief time working together. I have loved seeing all the work she has done since, and to see all the different qualities she brings to a role.
Have you seen her since the show?
I have not seen her since the show. Hello out there, Melissa!
There were also several notable guest stars on the series including Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City), John Slattery (Mad Men), James Cromwell (The Green Mile), and Frances Fisher (Titanic). Were there any guest stars that you were particularly excited about working with at the time?
Every week I looked forward to seeing who was going to be on. So many times it was someone I grew up watching, so it was great simply to meet them. I was a big fan of shows like Kung Fu (also created by The Young Riders' Ed Spielman) and Starsky And Hutch, so to have David Carradine and David Soul on the show was great. I grew up watching Family Affair with Brian Keith, so it was great to meet him. Blade Runner is a favorite, too, so it was great to meet Brion James. So many great actors on the show. Frederic Forrest, Chris Penn, Michael Pollard, Pernell Roberts, Fisher Stevens, Richard Roundtree...the list goes on!
In the down time on set, how did you and the cast spend time?
It was always fun. I’d say mostly just a lot of conversation, joking, laughing, practicing cowboy stuff, etc. It was probably all just water-cooler type stuff, but good conversation nonetheless. One day per week, we filmed interiors at our Tucson production office, and there was a pool table there, so that was a common meeting spot. There were quite a few musicians among the crew, so the occasional jam session would break out on the back of the equipment truck.
Then did the cast also spend time together outside of work?
Occasionally we did, but most of the time we spent together was on set. Sometimes, though, we went to the pool hall or one of Tucson’s many great blues bars and restaurants. Tucson is an awesome town. Mt. Lemmon and Ventana Canyon are a great places to hike there. There wasn’t a whole lot of time outside of work, though! We were shooting 6 days a week and sometimes very long days. Many times it was just nice to get home and decompress.
It sounds like a very busy but rewarding experience being on the show. There was clearly a lot that you loved about it.
Yes. The chance to be in a western, ride and shoot almost every day, act with the caliber of actors I got to work with, be outdoors, and working with other people that love what they do. It was also very great to have the story arc with Yvonne [Suhor, who played Lou]. She is such a giving, trusting actor. I was very fortunate to be part of that cast.
Do you keep in contact with any of the other Young Riders?
Not much these days, but I do get the chance to say hello now and again through the web. I keep tabs on all of them and what they’re up to.
Are you working on any current projects?
I’m currently spending time on a personal music project, but I look forward to working on screen again!
Thanks so much for speaking with us, Ty! Our viewers absolutely love The Young Riders.
Thanks for the questions! And thanks to getTV for airing The Young Riders again, and for providing some amazing content!