Katee Sackhoff Talks Final Season of ‘Longmire’ and a Changing Hollywood Culture
Katee Sackhoff is spending the early days of winter in sunny Los Angeles with her beloved pug as “Longmire” enters its sixth and final season on Netflix. “When I think of winter, I want it to be cold,” said Sackhoff. With the change in seasons come new horizons as “Longmire” prepares to close curtains after six years of following the gritty, violent story of Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) and Sackhoff’s blistering detective Victoria “Vic” Moretti.
A procedural in the tradition of western-meets-modern shows going back to “Walker, Texas Ranger,” but with more intensity and cinematic flare, “Longmire” developed a loyal following based on a deep love for its characters. As the fifth season came to a close it seemed like Longmire and Vic were ready to acknowledge a deeper, more romantic connection, and Sackhoff hopes fans feel their own closeness to the show as it enters its twilight. “I hope that people sort of feel warm fuzzies. Not everyone’s going to like the ending, I just got off the phone with someone saying ‘you can’t get everyone to like you,’” said Sackhoff. “But I think they’ll enjoy it.”
“Our show is one of the hardest shows to shoot, it’s one of the most well-oiled machines I’ve ever worked on,” she added, noting that some shooting days featured covering eleven pages of dialogue in high altitude snow conditions. “It’s not very easy,” she said with a chuckle, “but everyone on the crew loves the show and these characters.”
Just how hard shooting a series like “Longmire” can get became evident when just as cameras prepared to roll, Sackhoff found herself with a major hurtle. “The irony is that while Vic is learning how to stand in an uncomfortable place on her own, I was having to let go of control. While I was doing a movie in London in January or February I hurt my knee.”
Sackhoff found herself being told by a doctor that her knee was suffering from “overuse,” as she puts it. “My knee cap was out of alignment,” she revealed, “Here I am trying to play a woman who is incredibly physically capable…and I couldn’t run, I couldn’t go upstairs, I couldn’t sit down in a chair and get up on my own.”
At her own urging to the producers, Sackhoff relinquished all the action sequences to her stunt double. “She’s amazing, she did everything.” Still, a small but funny trace of her knee adventure still made it into frame, “there are moments where you can see me, especially in episode one, I noticed this last night, I’m limping just a tiny bit. It hurt so bad.” Not to be outdone by such a roadblock, the writing team found a way to later incorporate Sackhoff’s unavoidable limping through an injury Vic suffers later in the season.
In a sense the physical challenges of the show are a reflection of Vic’s own experiences. “Vic goes through a lot this season, things that we’ve seen Vic get through every season but not really listen to her heart and her gut…this is a season for her where she hits bottom and I think when she picks herself up she does it as a strong, independent woman.” For six seasons Sackhoff has portrayed a strong female role now more relevant in a landscape where female roles and crew positions in the industry are getting much needed and deserved attention. But for Sackhoff the debate over women’s roles and characters is more complex than simply conveying strength. “I think that Vic is an incredibly strong, respected woman, she’s very capable and she is honored for that,” but adds, “I am not the type of person that only ever wants to see strong women on TV and in film. That’s not life. That’s not reality. We’re artists and as artists have a responsibility to portray all aspects of what it means to be a woman, and sometimes it’s not pretty.”
Yet, for Sackhoff, “Longmire” feels the culmination of nearly 20 years portraying characters. She’s been working at it since the age of 14 and over the years starred in major cult hits like “Battlestar Galactica.” But now Sackhoff feels she has reached a new, important place in her career.
“I think I found my voice as an actress on ‘Longmire,’” she said. “In this business as a woman I was trained to always keep my mouth shut. I was trained that a woman speaks up she’s a bitch and she’s difficult, if a guy does it he’s strong.”
Sackhoff shared her insider’s experience of having been told numerous times to never open her mouth or have an opinion. “I have fought back against it, but I’ve done it terrified,” she said bluntly, “I can’t tell you how many times I was told by my team, ‘Katee don’t be difficult.’ I think we have to face the reality of what the world and business we’re in looks like.” With “Longmire” Sackhoff feels she has found a voice through a character that conveys strength through a command of respect.
As “Longmire” rides into the sunset, Sackhoff is not slowing down and is staying busy. She also appears in the CW’s “The Flash” as Blacksmith, a role she has relished in doing because it offers an escape into pure fantasy. “I think my nephews finally know what I do for a living,” she said with a tender laugh. “There was a part of me that wanted to play really strong make-believe.”
It is inevitable that while closing the chapter of “Longmire” in her life, the question is raised of how the show will fare with future audiences. “Tricia Helfer from ‘Battlestar Galactica’ was over last night, we had drinks, and we were talking about how ‘Battlestar is more popular now than we were on the air. It remains topical because things don’t change, the tagline of that story was that ‘this will happen again.’ ‘Longmire’ has the ability to be that as well.” Sackhoff ended with the simplest, yet most insightful way of looking at such ponderings, “I hope people can look back at it fondly.”
“Longmire“ season 6 premieres Nov. 17 on Netflix.