One Ranger’s Director and Co-Stars Discuss the Modern Cowboy Movie

May 3, 2023

While modern character complexities found within the Western genre have surely widened since the days of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers with movies like 2007’s No Country for Old Men and 2015’s The Hateful Eight that show the psychological side of the cowboy, these films both came out over ten years ago. With such a wide gap between the two groups, there is no greater time for this category of film to be having a true revival on the big screen. With the help of a director that specializes in action thrillers, Lionsgate Films is hoping to aim for the high mark with a soon-to-be released movie that puts a modern spin on an old character.

Releasing on May 5th into select movie theaters, on demand, and digital media, One Ranger drops Texas ranger Alex Tyree (Thomas Jane) into London with a fiery new partner (Dominique Tipper) to stop a bank robber turned international terrorist who is aiming to set off a bomb right in the middle of the city. Whether the bomber is captured dead or alive, justice is out to save the day. MovieWeb sat down with director Jesse V. Johnson and the film’s protagonist and antagonist, Thomas Jane and Dean Jagger, to see how One Ranger revitalizes the underrated genre.

Thomas Jane on Reviving the Texas Ranger

MovieWeb: While bringing to life the persona of Ranger Alex Tyree and the modern day cowboy interpretation, were there any onscreen Western characters, that you drew from or were inspired by for this role?

Thomas Jane: For this role, I liked Walter Hill [who] directed Nick Nolte in Extreme Prejudice. That was definitely a touchstone for me. I’m a huge Walter Hill fan and a huge Nick Nolte fan, so I started there. Cedrtainly Alex Tyree is a different breed of man and a different character, but I loved [Extreme Prejudice] which really the only example of a Texas Ranger that I found on film.

I grew up watching Westerns with my dad. We watched everything from Seven Men from Now to Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia to Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in the West. I think it’s an underserved genre, even now. Great work is being done by Taylor Sheridan in that zone […] I think that there’s a lot to be mined in the Western world for a new audience […] It’s really over the last 30 years that we’ve seen the decline of what Westerns really can be. This is the closest that I’ve been able to come with Alex Tyree and the Texas Rangers.

MW: Whether experiencing One Ranger in the movie theater or at home, what feelings or emotions do you hope fans leave with after watching the movie?

Jane: [With] characters that are grounded in a sense of reality and real life, you sense that these people are walking around with us, breathing the same air as we do, the same worries, the same emotional challenges and yet at the end of the day, they would never call themselves heroes. They are the first ones there and the last ones to leave. I hope they leave knowing the world is a slightly better place because the Texas Rangers are in it.


MW: Given his track record of action thrillers which include 2022’s White Elephant starring Bruce Willis and the award-winning The Beautiful Ones from 2017, what was it like working with acclaimed director Jesse V. Johnson?

Jane: It was great. We’re both dedicated to the craft and the perseverance to do the best job we possibly can, and that’s always good to see and to experience and be around. You know your labors are not going to be wasted. You make sure you do your best work.

MW: You worked with Dominique Porter on The Expanse which was one of my favorite shows back in the day. What was it like working with her now?

Jane: [After] Jesse and I agreed to do the movie, we were looking for my partner, and she had to be British. I just worked with this girl on The Expanse, she was terrific, ya know? She’s British, she’s a fine actor, and we had a good time together. She’s wonderful to be around, and you know, she lives in England. She had a good attitude and had what it took to get the job done, and so we were happy that she agreed to do it.

Jesse V Johnson: She’s brilliant, she’s so good, she’s dedicated and disciplined, and that’s what we wanted. Someone who’s going to roll their sleeves up, get into it, and not be intimidated by anything that is thrown at them.

Jesse Johnson on Directing a Different Kind of Superhero


MW: Some would say that there is a slowly emerging superhero fatigue in the entertainment industry, do you anticipate any kind of shift in the overall trend away from that genre?

Johnson: If you look at the history of movies, you’ll see that there are huge trends that come and go. If you look at the late ’50s and early 60s, there was a huge trend toward religious movies and they were very popular. Until they weren’t. People get bored with things. They move on. [This] doesn’t mean they’re good or bad.I think there’s an appetite and then it goes away. I think with our film, with our ‘superheroes,’ they’re a little more down to earth. There’s so much selfless behavior and people acting above and beyond […] A state of grace is what I call it. I think that’s a beautiful thing. But you don’t need to wear your underwear on top of your tights to be exclusive to it, ya know?

Johnson: I think our character in this film is a real-life superhero. His duty is to capture the bad man. The Texas Rangers are an outfit [for] when there was a problem that was simply too much for regular law enforcement. If that doesn’t typify a superhero, I don’t know what does.

Johnson: Don’t get me wrong, I loved superhero movies when I was 10 years old. I had comic books, and they were my foundation for my ability to frame a picture. 2000 A.D and Judge Dredd […] I learned to frame from these. But I think there are great movies to be made as well. You can peel back the onion layer and do your own research. Thomas and I did copious research on the Texas Rangers. I’d love to see a return to movies about actual men and women that have done heroic acts. But we’ll see. The audience is fickle [laughs]. Related: Best Western Movies of All Time, Ranked

Dean Jagger Finds Volume Through the Villain


MW: Considering the fact that you have played bold, strong characters before on shows like Game of Thrones, Legends of Tomorrow, and Warrior, were there any specific traits from those personas that you brought over for your role in One Ranger?

Dean Jagger: I think the pursuit of it is different every time, right? I feel like I’m committed to something different every time. Or I’d like to think that I am. I spend time disconnecting from the last character if I can. To answer your question, I feel like it’s very important to bring as much of yourself to the role, something very rooted in your past self. You can always find something. I don’t really like tapping, I don’t really draw from other characters. I try to find a way to connect to the character personally if I can. It could be something small as well. There’s always a little something, there’s always a little something there.

MW: With the plot of One Ranger revolving around a cowboy going to war with a terrorist, what was your initial reaction when you first found out about the unique premise?

Jagger: I like primal storytelling and I like simplicity. I think sometimes it makes the best stories, and I feel like with this story, it’s a great game of cat and mouse. Obviously, its action-packed and a thrill ride, but I quite like what the characters do. It’s this kinda like symbiotic thing between Tyree and McBride, and it becomes a bit personal. It changes, it shifts, actually. It bottle-noses into something quite personal, and I like that. Related: Best Thrillers With a Cat and Mouse Pursuit

MW: Speaking of your character in the film, he has a right-hand man named Oleg Jakovenko who is played by Mr. Jess Leodan. What was it like working alongside the former jiu-jitsu and kickboxing champion?

Jagger: He is laughs, man. He’s like a big ball of fun and just a sweet guy. When we sat at work together, we automatically kind of bonded, like straight away. I wasn’t really familiar with Jesse’s work, really before that. We kind of had this running joke […] we had gotten on so well, we could have done a spin-off called The Adventures of McBride and Oleg. There’s a great bit of exposition which I really can’t talk about right now about how these guys met, but I really connected with that as well.

MW: Whether they happen to be on-screen roles or behind the scenes creating a feature, can you give us insight into any of your future projects?

Jagger: I’ve been in negotiations for the last three and a half months on a feature film that my brother Ben and I wrote which he is going to direct called The Crying Boy. It’s a horror and based on a real true artifact. We’re actually working on that right now.

Also starring John Malkovich, Lionsgate will release One Ranger on May 5th in select theaters, on demand, and digital, and will release the Blu-ray and DVD on June 13th, 2023.

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