James Wolk and Amy Lippman Discuss FOX’s LONE STAR

LONE STAR: Robert/Bob Allen ( James Wolk)

The new FOX drama LONE STAR focuses on Bob/Robert Allen (James Wolk) a charismatic con man leading a double life in Texas. As Bob he lives in Houston with wife Cat (Adrianne Palicki), the daughter of Clint (Jon Voight), the patriarch of a rich oil family and tries to secure his position in that family so he can clean out the family business. 400 miles away in Midland he’s Robert, who is secretly cheating people out of their savings by selling them fake oil and gas leases while also acting as the devoted boyfriend of Lindsay (Eloise Mumford). To complicate matters further, Bob/Robert is in love with both Cat and Lindsay.

Daemon’s TV was there when executive producer Amy Lippman and star James Wolk recently talked to the press about keeping the Lone Star‘s central con going and what to expect from both the show and central character Robert/Bob Allen. They don’t divulge any spoilers.

On the character of Bob/Robert

Amy described Bob as the most complicated character she has ever written, calling him a tragic figure and one who is not all good or all bad but that is at heart human and flawed. He has a lot of demons and a dysfunctional past but is now striving for a functional future. She said finding the balance between Bob truly being a sympathetic character and wanting the best for everyone around him and yet putting everyone in a position where they could all potentially lose is difficult.

James explained that Bob has voids in him that he’s trying to fill: Cat has wealth and luxury that he never had and Lindsay and her family have backyard barbecues that Bob also didn’t have. He said that Bob has a big heart but he’s flawed and there are “screws that are a little loose.”

On Bob vs. Robert

James said that Robert and Bob are the same guy for him to play because he is himself in both places; he just tailors himself to fit the different situations. In Houston he must hold himself up for respect among the powerful people there while in Midland life is (seemingly, at least) simpler and he feels he can take a breath.

James said that Bob’s biggest challenge is being everything to everyone: he wants to give all to each of his lives and he can’t. Ultimately, Bob’s biggest mistake is that he opens himself up in both Houston and Midland, showing himself to both Cat and Lindsay, which makes it hard to walk away after conning people.

On keeping the central con going

When asked how long she thought Lone Star could keep the Bob/Robert double life con going, Amy wryly admitted that was the real challenge keeping the writers up very late at night. She said that the show will have lots of intrigue, with both the overarching cons that last an entire season and smaller cons that Bob is forced into to keep up his two lives while also keeping them separate. She further explained that the complex premise will play out in a very dramatic way as Bob tries to extricate himself from his current life to move toward his goal of a real life.

Amy also stressed that the different relationships like Bob and Cat, Robert and Lindsay, and Bob with the two father figures will have (and indeed must have) conflicts outside of the cons, the lies and the secrets because that will help draw viewers in.

On why Bob has kept up the Midland persona

When asked why Bob hadn’t simply dropped his Midland life as his father has suggested, Amy answered that Midland was a fluke for Bob. He had gone there simply to sell some fake oil/gas leases to pay expenses as he pursued the long con where Cat was the mark, but he fell in love with Lindsay when he sold her parents some leases. Now he sees it as a simple, uncomplicated, and less acidified life.

On casting James as Bob/Robert

Amy said that the Bob/Robert role was originally conceived as an older man, but that when James read for the role, they liked his warmth, directness, charm, and charisma, so they began to rethink the character.

James being an unknown didn’t factor into the decision of casting him, but now Amy sees it as an advantage because he can inhabit this character without viewers having any preconceived notion of him. It’s the only time in his career that will happen, so Amy said they plan to take advantage of it.

When asked how getting the role has changed his life, James joked that he used to have time to eat or sleep and that now he has a room filled with mirrors and the headlines that talk about him as a sexy new star. After Amy asked him if he had been recognized yet, James mentioned a man in an elevator who told him, “I want you to know man, I love that lifestyle.”

On shooting in Texas

James raved about how much texture shooting in Texas adds to the show by giving them great backgrounds and sets along with beautiful ranches and old buildings, He also said that it helps him as an actor because by being there he gets a real feel for what it’s like to live in Texas and that a side benefit for all the actors is that there are fewer distractions than in Los Angeles.

Amy mentioned that shooting in Texas also poses challenges because the writing staff is in Los Angeles. She said they go back and forth a lot, which is hard.

On acting with Jon Voight and David Keith

James called it an honor to be in scenes with them and that he has learned from them just by osmosis. He said that they are both always on set and always kind and generous with their time.

On how Lone Star is different than a traditional soap

When asked about the challenges of producing Lone Star, Amy said they want to create dynamic, intriguing, and fantastic stories that still maintain a sense of reality. She said that she has gotten many questions about it being a soap or being like Dallas, and she stated that the biggest difference is the actual character of Bob, that he is a character viewers can root for even when he does despicable things, but with good intentions. She said the writers have had to walk a fine line to do so, but she hopes viewers will see it all–especially Bob– as dramatic and intriguing.

Lone Star premieres on FOX Monday, September 20 at 9pm/8 central. You can find all our Lone Star coverage here.

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