Craig Rainey.

Craig Rainey.

Craig Rainey is an award winfning actor, award winning screen writer, and prolific fiction author.

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The Oldest Posse: Craig Rainey's Homage to Western Movie History

Craig Rainey as Walker in The Oldest Posse

When Brett William Mauser contacted me to audition for a western, I was reluctant to step back into the acting world. I was a published author. I felt like the actor part of my life had passed me by. I agreed to drive to San Antonio for a poker night with Brett and several other actors testing for a role in the movie for old times sake. Brett and I have worked together on at least 16 films during the nearly 20 years since he cast me in my first movie under his directorship.

Brett Mauser is one of the finest directors I have ever worked with. Don't let his lack of fame or recognizeable film resume deceive you. He, like many indie film pros I have known, travels a different road. He lives by a strict creedo - a tightly followed path of his own design.

I chatted with an actor some years ago who complained about Brett's methods. I advised that actor to learn to respect Brett's rules or do something else with his time.

Defining success in the film business by how much money you make in it is like measuriung your love for a woman by how much you pay her to sleep with you.

Craig Rainey

When I arrived at Brett's house, it was filled with actors and film crew. Some I knew from the old days, others I had never met before. Meeting new actors, as an actor, is a touchy business. We film stars have little to hang our hat on other than the body of work we have acrued. Actors don't typically look like movie stars. Because of this, you never know who you are talking to. In that group, I kept my mouth shut and refrained from talking about my experience in the biz.

Obviously, many of the others felt the same way. Small talk was the order of the day. Once Brett began the auditions, the quality of the actors in the room, and their experience in the business, became apparent.

After reading for several of the characters in the script, Brett offered me my choice of roles - except for the Marshal role. Brett said he had that one cast, although the actor he chose was not present. I selected Walker, the comic relief. Those who knew me and my style could not hide their surprise at my choice. I have done few comedic roles in my career. I have built my reputation as the heavy or a cop. Why then did I choose Walker?

Although he was written with humor, and was the butt of most of the jokes in the film, I saw a different Walker than everyone else did. I saw a tragic shell of a man who had lived long enough to regret the choices he made in his youth. I saw a role with range and a compelling arc. The role was one of the smaller ones of all of the characters, but I didn't care. I fell in love with the role.

Sometimes a role takes over the film despite the writer's intentions.

For those of you who don't know him, Brett William Mauser is known for his action movies, created with his signature plot twists and baddass chicks in the leading roles. He occasionally forays into the western genre, usually with good result. This was the second western he cast me in. I didn't expect the movie to be as good as it turned out to be. I did, however, intend this to be my final film in which I would act - my Swansong.

Being my final film, I decided to commit myself to bringing the best I could to the role. I built the costume myself - with the approval of director Mauser, of course. I even had my gun and gunbelt custom made by an artisan in Tombstone, Arizona. I loaded my pickup with gas cans, water, supplies, and my everpresent go bag, and hit the road for Arizona. We filmed much of the movie at the famous Mescal Movie Set outside of Benson Arizona. You have seen many westerns featuring the popular set: Quick and the Dead, Tombstone, Outlaw Josie Wales, and many more.

When I arrived, I was off book and in character. As with all Brett Mauser movies, we shot quickly. His skill with a camera is legendary and the cast did a good job of delivering on the early takes. For my part, I am proud of my work there. A few days later, back in Austin, I got a call from Brett. He told me he had watched the dailies and had edited what we had shot so far. He told me he wanted to make a change in the script. He said my performance was such that Walker changed in his mind. Instead of being merely a comedic sidekick, Walker had grown into a riveting character who he wanted to see to the end of the film, instead of being killed off mid-movie. I was ecstatic.

Craig Rainey at Mescal Movie Set

I won Best Actor for my role as Walker in the Film.

Instead of my character dying, Marshal was killed off. Of those I have spoken to who have seen the film and know the story behind it, they agree that Walker stole the movie. I don't take full credit for the change. Brett Mauser was pragmatic enough and saw, without any harm to his writer's ego, that the change would make the film better. The critics agreed. It won best picture three times and won the Barry Corbin Western Award at the Billy the Kid Festival in Hico, Texas.

I mentioned that The Oldest Posse was my Swansong. Not quite. I have been in contact with two directors who want me to work on their film projects in the near future. I guess I don't know everything after all.

  • Indie Acting
  • Western Movies
  • Screenwriting

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