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Christopher Walken in The Outlaws© BBC

The Outlaws star Stephen Merchant explains Christopher Walken's absence in series 3

Christopher, who plays Frank, has a reduced role in the new season

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
May 30, 2024
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The Outlaws creator Stephen Merchant has explained Christopher Walken's absence in season three of the hit BBC drama. 

The Hollywood actor, who plays veteran criminal Frank, was part of the main cast for seasons one and two but has a reduced role in the latest series. 

WATCH: The Outlaws are back in series 3

Speaking to HELLO! and other press ahead of the new season, Stephen, who portrays divorcee lawyer Greg, revealed that Christopher's smaller role was due to the impact of the actors' strike in America, as well as the star's other projects. 

"Although [the strike] didn't impact us directly, it did impact American actors and they weren't allowed to come over during that," explained Stephen. "That hit right when we were filming. That did make life rather tricky but he's back." 

Christopher Walken in The Outlaws © Big Talk/David Scott Holloway
Christopher Walken as Frank in The Outlaws series three

He added: "It was hard to fit him in with all the other things he's doing and the strike."

From July to November last year, the actors' union SAG-AFTRA was on strike over a labour dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which resulted in most Hollywood film and television productions being shut down. 

Christopher Walken in The Outlaws © Big Talk/David Scott Holloway/BBC
Christopher has a reduced role in series three

Like many American actors, Christopher was unable to work during the strike and so would have missed out on filming parts of series three. 

The 81-year-old has also been busy with other projects, including Dune: Part Two, the sequel to the sci-fi/adventure movie starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya.

While he may have a reduced role in season three, first-look images suggest that Frank is working in a café in the new episodes. Although, further details about his character's story arc have been kept under wraps.

Greg (STEPHEN MERCHANT), John (DARREN BOYD), Myrna (CLARE PERKINS), Ben (GAMBA COLE) in The Outlaws© Big Talk/Alistair Heap/BBC
Series three sees the outlaws hurled back into mortal danger

For those unfamiliar with the show, it follows a group of seven strangers who are thrown together to complete a community payback sentence in Bristol. 

In the new episodes, we find crime boss The Dean behind bars and awaiting trial, while the outlaws are hurled back into mortal danger after one of the group reveals a deadly secret. 

Stan (HARRY TREVALDWYN), Diane (JESS GUNNING) in The Outlaws© Alistair Heap/Big Talk/BBC
Jessica Gunning as Diane and Harry Trevaldwyn as Stan

The synopsis continues: "As a murder manhunt closes in on the gang, can they prove their innocence before The Dean's case collapses, and he comes looking for revenge?"

Starring alongside Stephen and Christopher in the comedy-drama are Rhianne Barreto as Rani, Gamba Coleas Ben, Darren Boyd as John, Clare Perkins as Myrna, Jessica Gunning as Diane, and Eleanor Tomlinson as Lady Gabby. 

Rhianne Barreto a Rani in The Outlaws© Big Talk/Alistair Heap/BBC
Rhianne Barreto as Rani

Rounding out the cast are Charles Babalola as Malaki and Tom Hanson as Spencer. 

The Outlaws returns to BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Thursday 30 May.

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