Regionally shot Netflix drama is a G-rated Dawson's Creek meets Friday Evening Lights

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It could appear laborious to imagine, however American actor Ashby Gentry didn’t understand his fundamental position in My Life with the Walter Boys would require horseback using.

So there was a steep studying curve for the younger actor when it got here to enjoying Alex Walter on the Alberta-shot collection. Alex is maybe probably the most bookish and delicate of the 9 boys within the Walter clan, described within the Netflix press materials as “a dreamer and an plain romantic” and “a devotee of fantasy novels, Star Wars and gaming.” However he has additionally grown up on a ranch in Colorado, so he’s a talented rider with a expertise for horsemanship.

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The Phoenix-born Gentry, then again, had solely ridden a horse as soon as earlier than exhibiting up on the Alberta set and stated the horse “tried to run me right into a tree.”

His co-star Noah Lalonde, who performs Alex’s brother Cole, a former highschool soccer star, additionally had restricted equine expertise.

“I rode a horse as soon as once I was 10 and I used to be really flipped off the again of it,” stated the Michigan-born actor. “There was a number of trauma I needed to sift earlier than coming right here.”

The interviews have been carried out on a sweltering day in August 2022, when Gentry and Lalonde joined dozens of extras as a part of a rodeo scene being shot on the Girletz Rodeo Ranch north of Calgary. It required Gentry to point out off his newly acquired using expertise. Throughout the six months of filming, he was put underneath the tutelage of the enduring wrangler, stuntman and real cowboy John Scott – the identical trade veteran who taught Brad Pitt how you can journey a horse and was as soon as Gene Hackman’s stunt double – and wranglers Mark Nugent and Bailey Mylan. Quickly, Gentry was spending a lot of his off-time on the again of a steed, typically on the CL Ranch west of Calgary which stands in for the Walter homestead.

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Nikki Rodriguez and Ashby Gentry in My Life With the Walter Boys. Courtesy, Netflix. COURTESY OF NETFLIX

“We’d be using across the ranch searching for stuff,” stated Gentry. “We discovered these big-ass buffalo skulls. Mark Nugent and Bailey Mylan are like actual cowboys, so that they know how you can scope all of it out. The horses are on set and I’ll pester the second assistant director on a regular basis, I’ll say ‘Hey Emily, I discover that I don’t work two days this week. Can we get a using lesson in?’ If the horses are on set, they are going to be there the entire day but when they’re not utilized in a scene then we will take them out. It’s like off-roading on a horse. It’s one of the best.”

It’s a superb factor that the actors enjoying the Walter boys turned well-versed in horsemanship as a result of it provides a wanted layer of authenticity to the fish-out-of-water premise of My Life with the Walter Boys. Based mostly on the Younger Grownup novel by Ali Novak, Netflix’s long-gestating collection will lastly be making its debut on Dec. 7. The story revolves round Manhattanite Jackie Howard, performed by Nikki Rodriguez, a complicated teen who loses her dad and mom in an accident and is compelled to stay on a Colorado ranch together with her mom’s previous pal Dr. Katherine Walter, performed by Sarah Rafferty. She is married to kind-hearted however gruff rancher George, performed by Marc Blucas, they usually stay in an enormous ranch home with 10 rambunctious Walter siblings, 9 of whom are boys. That features Alex and Cole, who each fall for Jackie and subsequently spend a lot of the collection “at one another’s throats,” Gentry says.

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Like her co-stars, Rodriguez had restricted expertise on a horse, however that helped together with her character growth.

“I used to be studying as Jackie was studying,” she stated. “In order that was cool and attention-grabbing. It’s been a lot enjoyable. It’s one in every of my favorite issues to do now, journey horses. It’s so therapeutic.”

Messy love triangles and horses, nevertheless, don’t match into what Jackie had assumed can be her life.

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Nikki Rodriguez and Ashby Gentry in My Life with the Walter Boys. Picture courtesy of Netflix. jpg

“Jackie is tremendous pushed and tremendous goal-oriented,” says Rodriquez. “She is on this seemingly good life trajectory. She will get taken out of and positioned in a complete new world and household the place she doesn’t really feel she belongs. So it’s her navigating a complete new life and new faculty after which she will get caught on this love triangle. It’s quite a bit she is coping with.”

Co-produced by Calgary’s Nomadic Photos, My Life with the Walter Boys appears a undertaking custom-built for Alberta. Along with the CL Ranch and Girletz, a number of areas in Crossfield and Cochrane have been used and interiors have been shot on the Rocky Mountain Movie Studio in Calgary in the summertime of 2022.

With its concentrate on ranch life, horses, teen romance and household dynamics, comparisons to CBC’s Heartland, Canada’s longest-running hour-long drama, are inevitable. Showrunner Melanie Halsall stated producers have been very acutely aware of Heartland and intentionally stayed away from areas related to that collection. She additionally stated the Walter Boys has a number of plot and thematic components. She really pitched it to Netflix as Dawson’s Creek meets Friday Evening Lights with hints of Celebration of 5 and My So-Known as Life.

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“The present can be about American soccer, we now have a number of massive faculty stuff,” Halsall says. “It’s about our youth, so it’s concerning the youngsters. So a number of what we shoot is at school and it’s additionally a couple of household. The rodeo is simply a small a part of it. It’s not the primary element of our present. So I believe in that respect, it’s totally different than Heartland in its feel and look.”

Nonetheless, there may be prone to be some overlap in viewers. Whereas the tragic accident that takes the lifetime of Jackie’s dad and mom could initially drive the premise of the collection, Halsall says My Life With the Walter Boys just isn’t a darkish coming-of-age story and is geared toward a broad demographic.

“What I at all times wished to put in writing was a present {that a} 15-year-old lady might watch and she or he might sit and watch it together with her 45-year-old dad and neither of them would wish to flip it off as a result of they’re embarrassed by something,” Halsall says. “So it’s a really constructive story. It’s handled with a number of lightness and it’s all about hope and household and that form of factor.”

My Life With the Walter Boys begins streaming on Dec. 7 on Netflix.

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