Quiet shouldn't be interpreted as distant with actor and author Robert Knott.
The mind of the Oklahoma native is not off in some other ZIP code, says close friend Rex Linn, an actor and Oklahoman.
If Knott is quiet, if his words are few, it simply means he is drawing close, whether it's to what you're saying, the role he's portraying or the words he's writing.
“Whatever you're talking about, whatever problem you have or whatever you're excited about, you can always count on Robert listening and responding,” Linn said.
“He doesn't take anything that you say lightly. That's a special gift and I've watched it for years and years. He soaks it up, puts it in the processor and gives you his best assessment.
“That's helped him tenfold as an actor. It's also helped him in his writing, and he really is an incredible writer.”
The novel “Ironhorse” by Knott is scheduled to publish Jan. 8. It continues the classic Western tradition that the late Robert B. Parker featured in novels such as “Appaloosa” and “Blue-Eyed Devil.” Parker died in January 2010 and G.P. Putnam's Sons Publishing contracted Knott to continue with Parker's Western series. “Ironhorse” is Knott's first novel.
Featured in “Ironhorse” are the characters Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch.
“I know these guys,” Knott said. “I never was at a loss for words. And these guys use few.
“I was raised in an environment that had many characters similar to Virgil and Everett. The unspoken was always present. A pause is worth a thousand words, listening is your sharpest tool, and so on.”
If you drill down in Knott's heritage, just a little ways, you'll find that he is a third-generation actor. His grandparents owned and operated a traveling tent show that followed the wheat harvest through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska as they performed plays, danced, played music, performed magic acts and more. Knott's mother, her brother and sisters were part of the act and eventually his father came along joining the troupe as a trumpet player.
When movie theaters became the entertainment draw in many towns, the days of his family's troupe were over. At that point, they made camp in Oklahoma, where Knott was born and raised.
And he carried on his family's love for acting. Knott, who lives in Los Angeles, has an extensive list of stage, television and film credits.
By the book
Knott and friend Ed Harris wrote and produced the feature film “Appaloosa,” based on a novel written by Parker.
“Ironhorse” carries on the story from “Appaloosa.”
“Ironhorse took about a year to complete, but I was not at it full time,” Knott said. “I'm writing another one now, and I suspect it will go much quicker ... at least I hope so.”
For years, Cole and Hitch have ridden roughshod over rabble-rousers and gun hands in troubled towns like Appaloosa, Resolution and Brimstone, according to Putnam's, publishers of the book.
In the novel “Ironhorse,” Cole is the territorial marshal and Hitch is his deputy marshal and in the opening chapter they are traveling by train through the Indian Territories. Soon, Cole and Hitch find themselves in the midst of a heist by a horde of very bad men and the lives of two young hostages are at stake. The heist is led by a killer with a vendetta he's determined to complete.
Knott said that while he understood the characters of the book, their use of fewer words made “more arduous the writing task than filling the page with descriptions and buckets of adjectives.”
Oklahoma in California
Knott and Linn have often made the trip from their homes in California to attend the Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
As recently as 2011, Harris joined them. And it soon became evident they moved about in a covey. If you found one, you found all three.
“Well, there's no place like home, and the heart of Oklahoma people provides that sort of feeling for me, that feeling of home,” Knott said. “I feel like Oklahomans bloom where they are planted though. My many friends, including Ed and Rex from Oklahoma, are really my family and I'm most comfortable with them.”
Knott said Oklahomans carry a sense of humor, integrity, vitality and good fortune that is infectious.
“It might be because we grew up in a country that has a weather pattern like no other weather pattern on the planet,” he said. “Or that we were one of the last states to join the Union and we are only a few generations removed of being profoundly proud, thankful and grateful we have a place to call home.”
Knott grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Northwest Classen High School in 1973.
He lived in Norman and spent about two years in art school at the University of Oklahoma before entering the oil drilling business at the height of the oil boom, at which time he moved to Edmond.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, Knott worked for 13 years on rigs for a Tulsa-based drilling company in Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska and eventually Kuwait.
With the bust, Knott fell back on the only other business with which he was familiar, show business.
He turned his attention to theater acting and play writing, and then eventually to film acting and screenplay writing.
“He takes you on a journey when he's on the screen and he takes you on a journey when he's writing,” Linn said. “And that's a gift. Robert does an amazing job with this book, when you're reading it, you get a sense that ‘Ironhorse' is speaking to you.
“The good news for the reader is, you want to listen.”