Mark Sheppard Reveals the 'Walker Independence' Scene That Had Him 'Choking With Tears'

Plus, the actor talks about reuniting with 'Supernatural' co-star Jared Padalecki.
by Allison Bowsher — 

Mark Sheppard in 'Walker Independence'

The CW

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the fourth episode of Walker Independence, titled "Pax Romana." Read at your own risk!

While Supernatural fans continue to mourn the loss of their beloved series, the show's stars have done their part to create reunions whenever possible. Jared Padalecki especially has been instrumental in getting the band back together, bringing his wife Genevieve Cortese Padalecki and Mitch Pileggi into the cast of Walker, which he executive produces and also stars on in the title role. And his Supernatural brother Jensen Ackles even directed an episode of Walker at the end of Season 2.

More recently, though, Padalecki's involvement as an executive producer on the new spin-off prequel series Walker Independence (Metascore: 63) has paved the way for an off-screen reunion with Mark Sheppard.

"Jared is one of my favorite people on the planet and there's never a reason to say no to him. I love the man with all my heart. Always have, always will. Same with Jensen, same with Misha [Collins], same with so many [Supernatural] people. Any opportunity to play in the sandbox with my friends is the greatest opportunity ever," Sheppard tells Metacritic of the reunion.

"I think it's very important to pick your stories. You can't tell every story, but if you pick the right stories, and you pick the right people to tell those stories, you can have a tremendous impact as well as being extremely entertaining," he adds.

Set in the late 1800s, Walker Independence stars Katherine McNamara as Abby, a woman whose husband is murdered in front of her while the pair are traveling from Boston to Independence, Texas, where Abby's husband has been hired as the new sheriff. Eventually making her way to town, Abby recognizes the man masquerading as the new sheriff, Tom Davidson (Greg Hovanessian), as her husband's murderer. Realizing that Tom and the rest of the Davidson family have large-scale business plans for the town, Abby enlists the help of new allies she meets in Independence to bring the sheriff to justice. Among those allies are Kate (Katie Findlay), a woman who works as a dancer in the local hotel and bar, and Nathaniel Hagan, played by Sheppard, who owns and runs the place.

In the fourth episode of the series, titled "Pax Romana," though, Hagan is forced to sell the hotel he has spent more than three decades building and running when the Davidson family threatens to kill Kate if Hagan doesn't make the deal. 

"The railroad was coming and there's money to be made. That's really what was happening," says Sheppard, setting the scene for the devastating deal.

"Texas was barely founded, and the rules were being made up as they were going. Hagan, who has been in that town for 35 years, built the hotel and is the center of the town. He has this powerhouse person who puts him on the right path. We could do this better, be better, treat people better, make this better. And then suddenly, they're going to kill her and there's nothing he can do about it," he continues.

Although Hagan has a sad end to his stay in Independence, Sheppard leaves the fictional town with nothing but praise for the cast and crew. 

"I haven't had this much fun in a very, very long time. I'm just so proud of being part of it," he says. "I think the show is phenomenal. I think it is extraordinary. I don't think it is the same as anything else. I think it's a new way of telling a story and I think it's very pertinent to remind people of what we are and where we come from."

Here, Sheppard breaks down "Pax Romana" with Metacritic, including whether there's hope to see Hagan ride back into town (and the show) again.

Fans are going to be so disappointed to see Hagan leave. When did you find out that this would be his final episode? 

It was a wonderful text that I got from [executive producer and director] Larry Teng saying, "Call me." I called him three seconds later and I said, "I'm in." He said, "You don't even know what it is." I said it didn't matter; I know it's going to be fun. What are we doing? He said, "Walker Independence." I said great because I knew what Jared was doing. He said, "Look, it's this little piece in this pilot and this is what we want you to do, and this is where it's going to play. It was a structure given to me and I was very aware of what was going on [with his arc]."

Hagan is a bit of a renaissance man for the time. He runs a show with dancing women, but he's respectful, especially toward Kate.

He was a European, so he's not the typical person in that era. He's also a lover of arts. Seamus [Kevin Fahey, showrunner] said to me, "It's P.T. Barnum meets Richard Branson."

Kate is a character that comes into Hagan's life and not only tells him what to do, but tells him how to do it better, how to behave. It's a beautiful relationship. I think Katie Findlay is a phenomenal actor. She has honesty, openness, and willingness.

It's painful to watch Kate berate Hagan during their goodbye. Was there ever a conversation about Hagan telling Kate the truth?

That's the allusion all the way through: maybe we could ride this out. We're smart, we're clever and between us, we could ride this out. But they're just going to kill her because she's smart.

Hagan trusted Kate with so much of the business, but he didn't trust her with the truth about why he was selling. Why do you think that was?

If I don't lie, she'll fight them. And if she fights them, she'll die. I could not shoot that scene. I looked at Sheelin [Choksey, director] and said, "I cannot read this. I can't rehearse this." The first two takes, I literally was choking with tears. Even thinking about it now, I [as Hagan] have got someone who loves me and cares for me saying, "I hope you die on a bed of white feathers." There was no air on the set for that scene.

Hagan leaves his hat for Kate with a note that says it fits her better. Do you think she interpreted that as a sign that the deal wasn't just about money?

Of course. He's a hopeless romantic, but he's devastated, she's devastated. We'll see where that takes the story. It'll have a marked effect on the town, on Kate; it smashes a hole right into the middle of the town.

Will we see Hagan back in Independence?

I never say never. I was on Supernatural for years. We killed more people than war, plague and pestilence put together.

Walker Independence airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays on The CW.

Get to know Mark Sheppard:
Prior to Walker: Independence, Sheppard was best known for his role as the powerful demon-turned King of Hell named Crowley on Supernatural (Metascore: 60)and lawyer Romo Lampkin on Battlestar Galactica (89). Sheppard has also appeared on Firefly (63), Doom Patrol (70), Doctor Who (77), and counts The X-Files (65) and In The Name of The Father (84) as some of his earliest on-screen credits.