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Suburban cowboy: From Barrington kid to Wyoming deputy

Bailey Chase plays Branch Connally new A E series “Longmire.”

Bailey Chase plays Branch Connally in the new A&E series, “Longmire.”

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Updated: July 6, 2012 10:05AM

Just like that John Fogerty song, life is just a ro-de-o for Skokie native Bailey Chase.

It’s noon on the New Mexico set of the new A&E cowboy series “Longmire,” and the actor is filming a scene where tempers flare at a rodeo event.

Sex symbol Chase, 40, isn’t exactly a city boy when it comes to all this riding and roping. In fact, his hometown of Barrington Hills gives him a bit of an edge here.

“It’s been awesome to get in the saddle again in New Mexico, which doubles for Wyoming in our show,” says the square-jawed Chase. “A lot of the guys know I’m from Chicago, but they don’t know I’m from Barrington, where my dad had a lot of horses on a farm. I was raised in the saddle.

“Sorry for the pun, but it’s like riding a bike. You just climb back on,” says Chase, who rides not just for work but also for R&R.

He might live in California, but he talks cowboy. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard on “Longmire.”

“Hang on a sec,” he says. “They’re wrangling me back to the set.”

Chase isn’t spending much time at home. On “Longmire” (debuting at 9 p.m. Sunday on A&E), the plot revolves around Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), an old-school sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyo., dealing with the fact that his wife died and times are a-changing. It’s based on a best-selling series of books by Craig Johnson.

Chase plays Branch Connally. “I’m essentially the foil,” he says. “The characters in the novel are pretty fleshed out, except for mine. But they felt that Walt Longmire needed a little antagonism in his life, so I’m the hotshot, younger deputy.”

They have different approaches to law enforcement.

“Walt is old Wyoming; I’m new Wyoming,” Chase says. “I’m in favor of using more technology and bringing in the FBI to solve crimes. Walt wants help from the reservation police. Walt is more isolated. He also has a checkered relationship with the police and doesn’t want to bring in the feds, either.”

All this drama is a far cry from his childhood.

“It was a great time to grow up in Chicago,” he says. “It was the mid-’80s, and we had the ’85 Bears and the Michael Jordan era.”

After his parents split up, “we’d spend summers with Dad. He had a little place on the Fox Lake, and we learned how to water ski.”

Chase ended up going to boarding school in Jacksonville, Fla., when his father moved there. After attending Duke University on a full athletic scholarship, he graduated with a degree in psychology. He decided to pursue acting and moved to Los Angeles after training in London.

He did a season on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as soldier Graham Miller and also played Chris Hughes on “As the World Turns.”

Later roles included Detective Butch Ada on the Holly Hunter series “Saving Grace” and Sean Everett on “Damages.”

In his off hours, he brings a little Chicago to L.A.

“Grandpa would take us to Cubs games,” he says. “Once a Cubs fan, always a Cubs fan.”

Big Picture News Inc.

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