ATX festival-goers were treated to the first episode of the upcoming CW series, Walker spinoff prequel Walker Independence on Saturday morning ahead of a panel with executive producer Jared Padalecki and stars Katherine McNamara, Matt Barr, and Justin Johnson-Cortez.
The Walker prequel, written by Seamus Fahey based on a story by him and Anna Fricke, and directed by Larry Teng, is set in the late 1800s. It follows an affluent Bostonian named Abby Walker (McNamara), whose husband is murdered in front of her while on their trek out West. Consumed by a need for vengeance, Abby crosses paths with Hoyt Rawlins (Matt Barr). The pair soon find themselves in Independence, Texas, where they encounter a diverse and eclectic cohort of citizens hiding from their demons and chasing their dreams, all while becoming agents of change themselves.
“Seamus wanted y’all to know what inspired an original story for Walker and the answer is that he always wanted to do a western,” Padalecki said. “The first TV spec script he ever wrote was a western and when he wrote for Walker, he created then subsequently killed a character named Hoyt Rawlings and everyone was mad at him, me included. He talked to Anna Fricke who runs Walker about doing a spinoff prequel, and this was in January of 2021 when they were having these discussions. We were watching a rough cut of the Walker episode where Hoyt dies and that’s when [Seamus] realized that was part of the way in to see the first generation of not just Walkers, but other characters that are part of the series.”
Mark Sheppard makes a brief appearance in the pilot.
McNamara spoke to Deadline after the panel about why playing badass Abby, a woman who is making a future for herself in a new town with the help of a diverse group of strangers.
“Something that drew me to this project is the fact that Abby is not your traditional woman in the West. She has the strong grit that you often see in these female characters but [the writers] don’t shy away from putting her through the wringer as well,” she shared. “She has a huge range of vulnerability and strength throughout this whole story. And there’s a lot more to be discovered about her.”
In the pilot, Abby, a Boston woman who is educated and in society, easily finds allies in newcomers like Calian (Johnson Cortez) of the Apache tribe, burlesque dancer Kate (Katie Findlay), and Kai (Lawrence Kao), who is originally from China. McNamara confirmed the show will dive into Abby’s past that formed the woman she is at present.
“Her past is something that I’ve spoken with Seamus about a little bit but I don’t have much I can share yet. But this is what’s so beautiful about Abby, you get to see her relationship with Liam at the beginning and that they have a marriage that’s more of a partnership than the traditional husband and wife of the 1870s and there is something different about her from the start,” McNamara said. “She has this tenacity and this timeless independence for lack of a better word, that speaks of a different era and she is willing to question the status quo. There’s a reason she left Boston. There’s a reason she and Liam want to create a life of their own and they want to create a town of their own making and have their own justice and really start fresh in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, they don’t get to do so together, but Abby certainly is not going to be stopped by tragedy.”