‘Walker Independence’: Matt Barr Previews 1800s Hoyt Rawlins

The apple truly doesn’t fall far from the Hoyt Rawlins tree on Walker Independence.

In the prequel spinoff (premiering this Thursday at 9/8c on The CW), Matt Barr stars as a charismatic outlaw who crosses paths with Katherine McNamara’s Abby Walker in the 1800s Western frontier town of Independence, Texas. The role marks an unexpected return to the Walker universe for Barr, who previously played Hoyt’s descendent — also named Hoyt Rawlins — on the mothership series until he met a tragic end in Season 1.

“We kind of regretted [killing him], to be honest,” Walker and Independence executive producer Seamus Fahey admitted during a recent virtual panel for the offshoot. “[Walker showrunner Anna Fricke] and I started to think about what did we do wrong with our lives, but also with that creative choice. And so it kind of started with just a text to Anna saying like, ‘Well, what if we went back to the first generation Walkers, and Hoyt Rawlins was part of the ride?’ A couple texts later and all of a sudden [executive producer] Jared [Padalecki is] on the hook and studio’s excited.”

Recalled Barr: “I remember when Seamus was like, ‘Hey, what if we went back in time?’ and I’m like, ‘What, like two years before?’ He’s like, ‘Maybe like 150.’ ‘Love it.’”

Getting to play Hoyt’s ancestor in a very different time period presented Barr with a unique challenge. “I want to differentiate them, but also feel, very much, that same kind of core bloodline there,” Barr said.

Comparing the two characters, Barr described modern day Hoyt as “like a golden retriever with an unloaded gun. And 1800s Hoyt is maybe like a German shepherd. He’s nice until you cross him, and then he’s going to bite.”

Walker: Independence Matt Barr

Matt Barr on Walker

While the two Hoyts are “equally charming” and carry themselves with “a little swagger” and “a wink,” Independence‘s Hoyt is “more dangerous,” Barr warned. “I think in the Wild West, you kind of had to be to survive. So I wanted to see that sort of DNA in him. But I also liked the idea that you can’t really outrun your fate. And so there [is] that consistent kind of recklessness in the Rawlins DNA” that was passed down to Cordell’s BFF on Walker.  (Plus, you know, both Hoyts share the same adorable face, Barr’s costars pointed out.)

“Matt is doing a great job of gingerly dancing around it, but there’s certainly a nod to the OG Hoyt,” Padalecki raved, adding that Walker fans should also keep their ears open for “some pretty great Easter eggs as part of the dialogue that Seamus threw in there.”

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