The mesmerizing HAP AND LEONARD premieres tonight

Several reviews before tonight’s premiere (Wed, March 3 9/10c) of SUNDANCETV’s adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s HAP AND LEONARD series.


But before we get into that, some exciting news for those who don’t have access to SundanceTV. After the initial broadcast, AMC will stream episodes for FREE on their website and various platforms through the AMC app! Visit for full details.

Both in video and in print, Dominic Patten of DEADLINE:

But ultimately HAP
AND LEONARD, on the small screen as in Lansdale’s
books, is about a friendship. In portraying that
relationship, ROME and THE
EMPIRE star Williams simply shine. Maybe it’s
because this is not the first time the two have worked together —
they shared the screen a lot in NBC’s short-lived THE
PHILANTHROPIST in 2009. Maybe it’s simply the
sheer talent of the two actors, but they are certainly a winning
combo here.


James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams as the titular characters in SundanceTV’s HAP AND LEONARD


Aside from its spot-on portrayals and charming chemistry among the leads, “Hap and Leonard” mesmerizes with its narrative, drawing you in with its amusing good ol’ boy dialogue and rural atmosphere only to smack you with surprise after surprise, some character-related, some sinister, some poignant, some downright scary.


Christina Hendricks as Trudy


Casting is everything with a buddy show this pure and HAP AND LEONARD made one spectacular and obvious choice and one against-the-grain choice with potential. This may be as close as Williams ever comes to a conventional lead, but Leonard is a part so full of wit, warmth and looming menace that none of the Wire and Boardwalk Empire veteran’s considerable jagged charisma is wasted. The casting was uncanny when it was announced and he’s close to perfect onscreen as well. Purefoy, though, would be nobody’s intuitive choice as a working-class Texan and his accent is all over the map and periodically across the pond. What Purefoy delivers, though, is the studied ease of a man who once cared about things, stopped caring and now just coasts on charm. Purefoy and Williams sell the rapport between their characters, and Purefoy also crackles with Hendricks, who brings the perfect ‘50s femme fatale vibe to a story that had to tame some of its sexuality for basic cable.


In “Cold in July” Mr. Mickle benefited greatly from performances by Sam Shepard and Don Johnson, whose ease and charisma made up for the sketchiness of their characters. In “Hap and Leonard,” Mr. Williams — once again playing a man of violence who happens to be gay, like Omar Little in “The Wire” — is up to the task, as is Ms. Hendricks, in a role very different from the one she played in “Mad Men.”


Joe R. Lansdale (photo: Karen Lansdale)

Over at the AUSTIN CHRONICLE, Marc Savlov interviews Joe R. Lansdale about the characters and the show.

Speaking to the popularity of his Hap and Leonard stories, and why they’re finally getting their onscreen debut at this fractious point in history, Lansdale said, “There’s such a polarization right now [in America] that here’s two guys who are very different, they have very different political views, although I would say that Leonard is the old-style Republican and not the current kind of, you know, throw-everything-in-the-sewer Republican. But they have a core of solidarity that has nothing to do with politics or social issues. It has to do with brotherly bonds, and they love each other like family. I think that’s very appealing to people to see that there can be this kind of bond and [Hap and Leonard] can be different and yet they have this strong and powerful connection that has to do more with just having the same core values of honesty and sincerity and just trying to do the right thing. It’s just that simple.”