TV Weekly cover: History's new mini-series "Texas Rising" loaded with talent, passion

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22 May 2015

Texas Rising video trailer
HISTORY, Ten-hour miniseries begins Monday, 9:00 PM ET/PT

By Barb Oates

The talent involved in History’s exhilarating new historical drama, “Texas Rising,” is incredible, with Bill Paxton, Olivier Martinez, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Brendan Fraser and Roland Joffé all part of the 10-hour miniseries beginning Monday and Tuesday.

The miniseries is from the producers of “Hatfields & McCoys” and tells the brutal and heartbreaking stories of the men who fought for an independent Texas following the Mexican siege of the Alamo in 1836. Directing this cinematic masterpiece in widescreen format is Joffé, best known for his Oscar-nominated work on “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission.”

“It’s not dry politicking and dry war,” Joffé tells. “It’s really about people in periods of great tension and struggle, trying to work out who they are and what they do. There’s a lot of emotion and love in the story, as well as violence.”

Paxton is beyond passionate about this project and leads the cast playing Sam Houston, the leader of the Texas Revolution and later the first and third president of the Republic of Texas. As a native of Texas and an actual distant relative to Houston — “He was my second cousin three times removed” — Paxton is a walking encyclopedia on Texas history.

Paxton discerns Houston as a man looking for reinvention and redemption when he headed to Texas to eventually lead the crusade against the powerful Mexican general Santa Anna (played by Martinez).

“Texas was a new start, a new chance to kind of reinvent himself," Paxton says. "It was kind of all or nothing. He (Houston) was a great student of human nature. He lived with the Indians, but he’s put into a very tough situation because he doesn’t have an army. He’s got these volunteers, they don’t know how to drill or form a battle line, or any of this stuff. He’s besieged, not just with a very formidable foe, but he has dissension in the ranks.”

That foe is Santa Anna, who Martinez presents in a rich and profound way. “You don’t have good or bad guys. You have a situation and a war, and obviously the winner takes over the territory,” Martinez says.

Joffé concludes by saying it’s the human moments in all of the characters throughout their journeys that really is the story. “My job was to not make it just a movie about scale, but to use scale as a constant lever to be saying to people, ‘Oh my God, it was like that,’ but then they suddenly want to concentrate on the people. That, for me, is always the balance, and it’s a privilege to work with a group of actors as good as this.”

For Ray Liotta, who plays the fictional character Lorca, who is hellbent on seeking revenge for his wronged family, "Texas Rising" has been one of the best experiences he’s had working on a movie. “It’s the ultimate in playing cowboys and Indians except it was Mexicans. Although there are some Indians in there, too. The best thing about it was the experience. It’s a great group of guys, and very, very rarely, probably hardly ever, you stay friends with the people that you work with. And we have and I think we always will. It was just — there’s no ego.”

Liotta added that audiences need not appreciate or know the historical background of the characters to enjoy the film. “I didn’t know anything about it. It’s more about human beings in a certain situation that it just so happens some people know about,” Liotta says. “My character was totally isolated, so my only friend, the only person to talk to or to share anything with, is the horse. They really were a big, important part — just not how you got from one place to another — it’s what that horse represented and what you got from it.”

If you want even more of the Lone Star State than "Texas Rising" provides, then enter Texas Rising Big Trivia Sweepstakes, with a Grand Prize including a 3 day / 2 night trip for two to San Antonio, including a hotel stay along the famous Riverwalk, a tour of the Alamo, and $1,000 cash.
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