Monday, June 30, 2008

Luke Perry's Pledge

Since leaving his famous ZIP code almost a decade ago, Luke Perry has taken on a number of against-type roles. He has played a prison inmate named Rev. Jeremiah Cloutier on Oz, a lotto winner on Windfall, Brad from The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway, and even an animated version of himself on The Family Guy.

“Gotta keep changing it up,” Luke tells me.

Luke changes it up once again this month for the Hallmark Channel original movie A Gunfighter’s Pledge, premiering at 8 p.m. Saturday. However, Luke makes sure I understand that his character, Matt Austin, is NOT a gunfighter.

“When we were making the movie, it was called The Pledge. They added on the ‘gunfighter.’ Matt is just a guy who got stuck being a sheriff. He wanted to be a farmer,” Luke explains. “But then bad stuff happens.”

That “bad stuff” is his wife and child are killed by an escaped outlaw, Tate, wanting revenge on Matt for killing his brother, who was also an outlaw. When Matt catches up with Tate, a bar shootout results in the death of an innocent bystander. Matt promises the dying man that he will return his body to his sister and help her in any way that he can.

“This is a movie about doing the right thing and keeping your word.

The guy does it just because he said he would. It was interesting for me to discover this man’s motivation – is it vengeance or justice?”

So, what sets this movie apart from many of the other shoot-’em-up Westerns you see nowadays?

“This is just a simple story told really well. That’s what makes a good Western.”

As Luke describes A Gunfighter’s Pledge, it reminds me of Once Upon a Time in the West, and I ask him if he has seen that. “About 20 times,” Luke replies. “That movie defines the genre: It’s a Western, it’s a morality tale, it’s good versus evil.”

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the actress who plays Amaya, Jaclyn DeSantis, also co-starred with Luke on the NBC series Windfall. He tells me: “It was great getting to work with Jaclyn. We didn’t get to work together in Windfall, but we got to hang out. I liked her and thought she was great, so I was excited to get this chance to work with her on-screen.”

This also isn’t the first time that Luke has saddled up for Hallmark.

“I did a Western for them a few years back (Johnson County War) and wanted to do it again. It was great; I would just wake up, comb my face and go to work. We shot in beautiful places, and I got to be on a horse all day. And we shot close to my house, so that was a plus.”

Shooting the movie was quick and challenging, but Luke isn’t complaining. “I hate it when actors bitch about that,” he says. “We shot this in 15 or 18 days, which is really fast. It’s a lot of stuff — you're working with horses, explosives, dialogue, so the actors had to be on the ball.”

Check back next week when Luke discusses running on top of trains, the Cleveland Browns and the need for more family-friendly movies.