Caleb McLaughlin says he has a “new respect for horses” thanks to his starring role in Netflix’s Concrete Cowboys.
In the coming-of-age-drama, McLaughlin plays Cole, a troubled teen sent to live in North Philadelphia with his estranged father, played by Idris Elba. While there, he discovers the city’s real-life urban cowboy subculture.
The Stranger Things actor tells ABC Audio that while horses can be “intimating creatures,” he “learned to love… and build a connection” with them.
“So totally different than Demogorgons,” he quips, referring to the Stranger Things monsters. “They’re creatures…this is a beautiful and majestic horse.”
To make that real connection, McLaughlin says, he “did a month of training.”
“And just learning how to clean the horse [and] everything that I need to learn about the horse,” he explains. “Riding and building a bond with the horse. It was definitely totally different from anything I’ve experienced.”
Although McLaughlin admits he wasn’t always into horses, the actor reveals that being a part of the film and “…learning about…the culture” made him a fan of the urban cowboy community.
Director Ricky Staub agrees, adding that his intention in making the film was to share a culture and community that was overlooked and almost forgotten. To that end, Philadelphia’s actual Fletcher Street Cowboys appear in the film.
“I feel like it was monumental to the success of the film,” Staub says.
“I told this to Caleb and I told the Idris — I don’t want this to feel like you guys are playing…Halloween cowboy here,” he says. “And I felt like giving the mic literally to the community to be not only behind the camera helping me put it together…them in front, would help elevate the piece…So that was the plan from the beginning.”
Concrete Cowboys premieres Friday on Netflix.
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