Epix has given a series order to Billy The Kid, a new take on the Western figure from Vikings creator Michael Hirst.
Billy The Kid, born Henry McCarty and also known as William H. Bonney, was one of the most notorious outlaws of the Old West and is often remembered for how young he was. He was first arrested at the age of 16 which began several years of escapes from the law, robberies and a few murders. He took part in 1878’s Lincoln County War in which he later killed a sheriff and his deputy, two crimes which launched his status as a wanted man even higher. He was shot and killed at the age of 21, though for years afterward rumours circulated Billy had really survived and was in hiding, his legend growing even after death as people claimed they were him or copycatted his crimes. He has become a huge staple of American and Old West mythology with many books, films and television series having been made on his life and reputation, most notably with Emilio Estevez playing him in Young Guns and its sequel.
Billy The Kid is described as “an epic romantic adventure based on the life of Billy the Kid, also known as William H. Bonney — from his humble Irish roots and his early days as a cowboy and gunslinger in the American frontier, to his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond.” The series is a co-production between Epix, MGM International Television Productions and Nordic Entertainment Groups’ streaming service Viaplay.
Director Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood) will direct the first two episodes of the eight-episode first season. Hirst will executive produce with De Line Pictures’ Donald De Line, Amblin Television’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey and Bathurst and Toby Leslie through their One Big Picture company.
“Billy the Kid has always been a hero of mine since I was – well, a kid,” said series creator Hirst. “I grew up in the North of England but it made no difference. Billy was a special kind of outlaw. For a start he was so young – and for another thing, he wasn’t a psychopath who enjoyed killing, nor a criminal who robbed for material gain. He was an outlaw most of his life, but he never wanted to be. Born into a poor Irish family of immigrants, he always wanted to go straight, to be a ‘new American.’ But he was never allowed to. Billy’s story is much more than a fantastic drama about a charismatic cowboy – although it is that. It’s also the story of the immigrant, and the story of the creation of the new America from the lawless, violent chaos of the mid-West and its many nations. So in the end it’s not just a story at all – it’s an American myth.”
“Michael Hirst has created a series that will take the audience on an entirely unexpected, thrilling ride, turning what they thought they knew about this iconic character on its head,” said Epix president Michael Wright. “We can’t wait to see how this talented creative team unfolds this story and brings it to life for our viewers.”
“Billy the Kid reunites Michael Hirst and MGM, whose epic sagas with global appeal remain unmatched,” said Rola Bauer, MGM’s President of International Television Productions. “It is an immigrant story at its heart and an international perspective to this legendary American character. Exciting to collaborate once again with our partners at Epix and NENT/Viaplay.”
Hirst is just coming off a six-season run of History’s hit series Vikings. Along with Billy The Kid, he is developing a Vikings sequel series titled Vikings: Valhalla.
Billy The Kid is expected to begin production in June in Canada’s Calgary, Alberta for a 2022 premiere.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.