History classes often touch upon events that unfolded at the Alamo in 1836. The big question being asked in the new History Channel series, “Texas Rising,” is whether you remember what happened after the Alamo.
“Texas Rising” is an 10-hour miniseries that details the Texas Revolution and the rise of the Texas Rangers after the fall of the Alamo. Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olivier Martinez, Thomas Jane, Crispin Glover, Rhys Coiro, Jeremy Davies, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Christopher McDonald, Max Thieriot, Chad Michael Murray, Robert Knepper, Jeff Fahey, Rob Morrow and Kris Kristofferson star.
Paxton — who plays General Sam Houston — didn’t need the script to remind him of the events that followed after Santa Anna killed all of the Texas defenders. Houston’s mother is Paxton’s great, great, great aunt.
“So I wanted to get it right,” Paxton says. “After the fall of San Jacinto and the treaty that was made with Mexico in early 1837, Texas became its own country. And for seven years until it got statehood, it was its own country, and that spirit has remained a great source of pride for all Texans.”
That saga starts in 1836 when west of the Mississippi was considered the Wild West. Crushed from the outside by Mexican armadas and attacked from within by ferocious Comanche tribes — no one was safe.
Houston, the rag tag Rangers and the legendary “Yellow Rose of Texas” take on a fight against insurmountable odds sparked by the memory of “The Alamo.”
The miniseries looks at how Sam Houston — with an army of less than 1,000 volunteers — took on the massive army under Santa Anna. Paxton compares facing Anna’s army of 5,000 to going up against the Death Star in “Star Wars.”
“It’s a little known kind of fact, but this changed the course of American history, this battle. Even though it is historical fiction, I think the viewer will find this history very fascinating and is certainly going to be a huge entertainment as well,” Paxton says. “But it was a significant piece of American history that I think most Americans don’t really know much about besides the Alamo.”
“Texas Rising” is the latest in a long career of very diverse roles for Paxton that most recently included a stint on the ABC comic book-inspired “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” His previous work includes “Titanic,” “Apollo 13,” “Nightcrawler,” “Predator 2,” “Aliens” and the 1986 mini-series “Fresno.”
Paxton took on the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” role for fun, but he discovered soon after the episodes started airing that the part was getting him a lot of attention. He was at a celebrity signing for a reunion of “Aliens” when fans would come up to him and say “Hail Hydra.”
Paxton sees roles like the one of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the “Texas Rising” mini-series as necessary to remind all ages of his work.
“You have to stay relevant and keep putting stuff out there,” Paxton says. “I’ve been around a long time and seen how Hollywood has a very short memory. If you don’t keep some product in the pipeline, you can disappear very quickly.”
Paxton has portrayed real people in the past, but he’s never felt the kind of pressure that came with playing someone in his won family tree. He had wanted to play the role of Sam Houston in the 2004 film “Alamo” that went to Dennis Quaid. Paxton sent Quaid a copy of “The Raven: The Story of Sam Houston” written by Marquis James in 1975.
“It’s still considered one of the best biographies written about Sam Houtson,” Paxton says. “I was very aware of Sam Houston growing up because my dad was fascinated with him. He didn’t talk much about the family connection but more about what a remarkable, unique individual San Houston was.”
- 9 p.m. Monday, May 25, History Channel