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The Young Riders

19 March 2010 10 Comments

Brett Cullen in The Young RidersBrett Cullen played Marshal Sam Cain in the western television series “The Young Riders” from 1989-1990. The series chronicled the forming of the Pony Express shortly before the Civil War broke out and took place in the little town of Sweetwater, Nebraska. Brett starred in the series with Anthony Zerbe, Melissa Leo, Ty Miller, Stephen Baldwin, Josh Brolin, Gregg Rainwater, Travis Fine and Yvonne Suhor.

How he got the part…

I got the part by meeting with the producers, because they had already made the pilot for the series. They had decided they wanted to add, or they were actually eliminating, one character and creating another. They needed a town, and they wanted a marshal that was going to become the love interest to Emma. And I met with the guys and read for them and they offered me the role. So, I went down to Arizona, where we were going to shoot, in Tuscon, and met everybody and the more I talked to everyone, I created a background for my character.

Describe your character, Marshal Sam Cain…

The whole idea was that he was an ex-gunfighter who lost his wife to some bad guys and spent the rest of his life tracking everyone down and killing them. Until, finally, he realized he could not go on like that. Finally, Sam killed a guy and the guy’s son was standing right there and that made Sam realize that he was no better than the others, so he changed his ways and became a U. S. marshal. And that was the whole basis for the character.

On team roping…

Being in Arizona, I fell in love with Tuscon and really got to be good friends with a whole lot of guys down there, all the cowboys and wranglers that worked on the show. And that’s where I learned how to team rope.

Talk about your co-stars…

I had a great time with Anthony Zerbe. And Stephen Baldwin, Josh Brolin, Ty Miller and Gregg Rainwater, all those guys, we all got along. I think Ty and Yvonne and myself — we all hung out together a lot more. Steve’s fiance was there so they hung out together. But I went golfing a lot and I really liked Tuscon. I was very disappointed when I left the show.

On his favorite episode…

I think the episode I liked best was the one about my character — where you discover my history. It was also the second highest rated episode that year. The whole episode is about how this bad guy comes to town and he was the head of the bad guys that killed my wife, and that brings back all the memories of what happened. He was the one that I never killed.

On what changes he would have made…

I wish that when they got Emma and I off the show that they would have done that on screen. They didn’t. The next season showed up and we had just eloped and run off together. I thought that was very weak and I wished that they had finished off Sam and Emma’s characters and let them run off together, or maybe had a wedding episode or something. But that’s television. That’s Hollywood…

On why he left…

The direction of the show was moving more into the direction of “Young Guns” and I wanted the show to be a little bit more about the West and the Pony Express, and so it was just a parting of the ways. It was just time for me to move on.�


  • Nick and Edie said:

    Hi Bret!
    My husband and I are HUGE fans of Young Riders, and are watching the entire DVD series now while on vacation in Yellowstone (in our RV). We just got through season 1, and were absolutely SHOCKED not to see you and Emma anymore. We had to search for hours online to see what happened – maybe we were missing a DVD… it never said anything about you eloping… wasn’t that Ema’s house? Did she sell it? Did you ask her to marry you finally?

    To me, the producer REALLY screwed up an excellent episode. That was one that I would have paid GOOD MONEY to see.

    Wish things were different. Love you dearly Sam, your BIGGEST fans… Nick and Edie Williams

  • Cheryl said:

    Hi Mr. Cullen!
    My daughter just got me all 3 seasons of Young Riders for Mother’s Day, so I have been enjoying the trip down memory lane! I grew up with horses, so I always loved the show. I never did marry a cowboy but my husband does wear cowboy boots occasionally, LOL. Just celebrated our 33rd anniversary so I have a lot to be thankful for.

    I enjoyed Sam and Emma and thought they added a lot of depth and experience to the YR story. But Edie is right, there was no mention of an elopement in the season 2 dvd set. Rachel and Noah just show up out of the blue too. The writers really missed the boat, they could have had 3 good episodes there to start the season off right. They obviously don’t know anything about transitions! The characters seemed so real, and the writers should have given the fans the courtesy of a proper departure. Too bad they can’t give us a reunion show to make up for it!

    Well, I’m not one to write fan letters but just wanted to say hi and let you know how much I enjoyed your character on the show. Hope all is well and you are enjoying life! God bless!

  • robbi hyde said:

    Hello Bret,
    I always loved The Young Riders. I have a DVD of the 1st season. Are there any other seasons out ye? I would like to get them all

    Thank you
    Robbi Hyde

  • Neal G said:

    While I enjoy the show, still (during re-runs), the loss of Emma’s and Sam’s characters leave the show a lot more shallow. I share Brett Cullen’s sentiments, that the show should have gone more in the direction of The Pony Express than season two’s gunslingers themes. We all learn after some time that tinkering with something that already works (and has attracted a lot of people who favor it so), tinkering is quite often yields a weaker story/show or product.

  • James Bragiel said:

    Hi Brett, I just wantedto tell you that you have made an impact in my life. I remember sitting with my Mom and Dad back in the days watching ” Thr Young Riders ” and I loved every episode. You character for trade a man who put his morals before anything and that is exactly how I want to live my life and I am glad that I’ve chosen to become a firefighter and follow my dad’s footsteps and to do what’s right every day. I have a little girl who is 2 1/2 years old and I hope I can raise her to do what’s right in life which is exactly what your character on the show did.

  • Carol Montgomery said:

    Hi Bret!
    I to am very disappointed you and Emma left “The Young Riders”. I went online and asked what happened to you and Emma….the show never mentioned what happened to you two.
    I agree with Nick and Edie Williams, the producer really screwed up an excellent episode. I thoroughly enjoyed your and Emma on the show.
    Would love to see another episode with you and Emma again.
    I love you both and am a big fan….Carol Montgomery

  • Janetta Wilson said:

    I just recently started watching Young Riders & was trying to find an episode that explained what happened to Marshal Sam & Emma. Now i find out there wasn’t one. I love the show but this is very disappointing. Glad they did show Kid & Lou’s wedding. I think i have finally seen all of the episodes & have loved all of them. I don’t remember this show when it 1st aired on tv or guess i was working & didn’t watch much evening tv. I love Teaspoon’s character & the way he takes care of & cares about everyone.

  • Tim Espey said:

    Absolutely loved the characters of Sam and Emma. The lack of explanation as to why you guys left was unprofessional. Nothing against the new characters after the first season, but the show was never as good as the first year.

  • Michael McBride said:

    Howdy Brett The Young Riders is one of my very favorite shows. when it first aired i was working as a security guard and worked the day shift. After awhile somehow or another someone asked me what i did at night and so i told him i watched tv and listed off what shows i watched. wouldn’t you know i was moved to the night shift so i missed a lot of episodes. After the season was over i was put back on the day shift for a couple of months. Melissa Leo and you did not return so i was saddened since i was googoo eyed over Melissa(i would have thrown myself at her had i been better looking). Back on night shift again. I figured someone did not want me to watch what i wanted to watch. well the Young Riders finally ended and there were a whole bunch of episodes that I never got to see. I was playing around with my phone not long ago and checking out youtube for westerns to watch and then i saw they have a lot tv shows. I looked up Bonanza, The High Chaparral and The Young Riders and yep they are there. And I have spent the past few months catching up on a whole lot of episodes i never got to see. You all Did a really great job on The Young Riders. I like all the characters and they all blended well. Personally I like westerns over all other movies and programs, we my older brother and I spent a lot of time riding our welsh (knot headed) ponies all over the hill we lived on. I learned how to do a lot of that cowboy type riding because my brother called me chicken to do this and chicken to do that and nothing but a sissy because i couldn’t do a rear vault. Well I learned how to do those things and when I saw those kids on The Young Riders learning those things it brought back a bunch of memories. I am too old to do any of that stuff anymore but it is still fun to watch someone else. You looked the part of a tough law man and i couldn’t figure what was going on. Anyway I hope you do more westerns shows if you get the chance, you are good at it. Have a good day Brett!

  • Nancy Ellingsworth said:

    Hello Brett. I have been a fan for many years. I love ur work.I do community theatre. Do u have a suggestions on memorizing lines? My favorite project u have done is The Hired Heart. Never get tired of watching. Looks like u had fun making it. Great cast too. Hope u r well. Thank u for ur time. Nancy

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