C.J. Box On “Big Sky” Premier: “It’s Weird, It’s Exciting, It’s Fun”

Wyoming author C.J. Box has been writing for 20 years, but on Tuesday night, he got to see some of his characters come to life with the premiere of the ABC series "Big Sky."

Ellen Fike

November 19, 20203 min read

Cj box headshot
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It’s been 20 years since C.J. Box started writing novels, and he’s been waiting for the time when one of his books would be adapted for the big or small screen.

On Tuesday night, it finally happened. After spending two decades writing nearly 30 books, Box and the rest of the world got to see his characters come to life when “Big Sky” premiered on ABC.

While Box got to see the pilot before everyone else, that doesn’t mean he didn’t still tune in to see the premiere with everyone else.

“It’s weird, it’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s all of those feelings and more,” Box told Cowboy State Daily. “I certainly key in on specific lines of dialogue that I recognize from the book.”

The hour-long pilot introduced many of the characters from Box’s book “The Highway,” which is the first in the series starring Cassie Dewell, played by Kylie Bunbury in the series.

Overall, Box was pleased with the way the characters were introduced over the course of the pilot, but noted that it can be difficult for such a large cast to have fully established personalities in such a short amount of screentime.

The show’s pacing is one thing that’s definitely different for Box compared to his book, but he was expecting that, since the mediums are so different.

The series has already been ordered for a full season on ABC, meaning that viewers will at least get to see how this Cassie Dewell mystery plays out over the course of 10 episodes.

Box did lament the fact that the coronavirus pandemic affected numerous things surrounding the show and his involvement, noting that the series has been filming in Canada (rather than Montana, where it is set) due to the virus.

“I am a little sensitive about the fact that they’re not filming in Montana, but honestly, I thought they did a pretty good job of representing the state,” he said. “I think if you didn’t know the series was being shot in Canada, you wouldn’t recognize it. But I’m sure there are some people from Helena who will point out that it’s not really the town.”

In addition, Box didn’t get to visit the set during filming (and likely won’t before the first season is done filming) or attend the premiere party, which was a little saddening for him.

However, he is ultimately relieved now that the premiere has finally happened. Now, he and the rest of the world can watch as the mystery unfolds (although Box will get to see the episodes a little earlier than the rest of us) over the next nine episodes.

“It was definitely worth the wait,” the author said. “It’s so much better to see an adaptation of the novel instead of them just taking the characters and putting them into a different story. I’m happy they’re sticking with mine.”

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Ellen Fike