Proving the success of Netflix original series Virgin River and Sweet Magnolias tenfold, the streamer will continue to push into the romantic drama genre with the upcoming page-to-screen adaptation of Ransom Canyon. Add a dash of Yellowstone into the melting pot and the streaming service already has a potential record-breaking hit on their hands.
On Dec. 5, 2023, Netflix officially announced that the series had been picked up for a 10-episode first season. Prior to the formal announcement, the series had been first been teased as in development in August 2022. According to Deadline, the series will likely begin filming sometime in early 2024, paving the way for a hopeful premiere by the end of the year.
Based on the series of books of the same name by author Jodi Thomas, Ransom Canyon has been described by Netflix as a “romance-fueled family drama” that centers on the complicated and intertwined lives of three Texas ranching families. The two main characters are Double K Ranch owner Staten Kirkland (Josh Duhamel) and town newcomer Quinn O'Grady (Minka Kelly).
Although there are still so many updates to come, including more casting announcements and an official start date for filming, we’re sharing everything we know about the highly anticipated new show. From the writer and director bringing the show to life to the huge stars leading the cast, here are the latest updates on Ransom Canyon. The latest update was on Monday, Jan. 22.
Josh Duhamel and Minka Kelly lead the cast
In the headlining roles of the contemporary Western-romance series are established television and film stars Josh Duhamel and Minka Kelly. Duhamel will play Staten Kirkland and Kelly will play Quinn. The pair have never been romantic leads or costars in previous productions before, but they will surely have incredible chemistry that will make for a new fan-favorite ship.
Josh Duhamel, who’s 51 years old as of December 2023, first came to prominence in the soap opera All My Children before breaking out in the NBC drama series Las Vegas. He’s gone on to star in the Transformers movies as well as the romantic comedies Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! and Life As We Know It. He previously starred in the 2021 Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy and made his directorial debut with the 2019 film Buddy Games.
Here’s more information on Duhamel’s character Staten Kirkland from Netflix:
"Staten Kirkland, owner and sole occupant of the sprawling Double K Ranch. Steadfast and stoic, Staten leads the charge to resist outside forces threatening his way of life and the land that he loves."
Minka Kelly, who’s 43 years old as of December 2023, perhaps is best known for her role as Lyla Garrity in the cult favorite NBC drama series Friday Night Lights. She went on to have memorable arcs in the NBC’s family drama Parenthood and HBO’s teen drama Euphoria. Kelly appeared opposite Leighton Meester in the thriller The Roommate and entered the DC Universe in the Max series Titans. In 2023, she published her best-selling memoir Tell Me Everything.
Here’s more information on Kelly’s character Quinn O'Grady from Netflix:
"Quinn has often found herself in the shadow of others, but after a stint in New York pursuing her career as a concert pianist, she has returned to Ransom Canyon to carve out a new path for herself. "
Ransom Canyon casting news
Along with Kelly and Duhamel leading the cast of the series, on Jan. 18, Netflix announced the additions of three more series regular cast members. James Brolin, La Brea star Eoin Macken, and A Million Little Things vet Lizzy Greene have landed the roles of Cap Fuller, Davis Collins, and Lauren Brigman respectively.
Brolin appears as Cap Fuller, the ex-Army captain and owner of Fuller Ranch who's bound to butt heads with Staten and other ranch owners in Ransom. Netflix further describes the character as "bullheaded" and "as salty as they come." Learn more about Cap per the character description featured in Netflix's press release:
"After losing his only son in Afghanistan, Cap buried his grief in work and the occasional drink, his once renowned ranch having fallen into slight disrepair. Resisting pressure to sell, Cap hires new foreman, Yancy Grey, and is quick to let the young man know exactly what he’s doing wrong. About as salty as they come, Cap is kept in line only by Ellie, daughter of a fallen brother in arms, who checks in on him from time to time."
Macken, who wraps up his starring role in NBC's sci-fi drama La Brea in February 2024, lands his next series regular role in the Western romance as Davis Collins. He's a direct foil and competitor to Duhamel's Staten Kirkland in more ways than one. Their families have feuded for years, but both men have had eyes for the "beguiling Quinn O'Grady." Hello, love triangle!
"Unlike his counterpart Staten Kirkland, Davis is intent on capitalizing on the invaluable aquifer running below Ransom’s ranch land. But this is far from the first issue that Staten and Davis have butted heads over. The two biggest landowners in Ransom, the Kirkland and Collins families have been feuding for generations. But passionate stances on the water pipeline aren’t the only thing Davis and Staten share — both have fallen hard for the beguiling Quinn O’Grady, lavender farmer and owner of the local dancehall in Ransom."
Greene was last seen as Sophie Dixon in ABC's family drama A Million Little Things, which ended after five seasons in 2023. She'll now star as cheerleader and sheriff's daughter Lauren Brigman, who seems to be caught up in a love triangle of her own but of the teenage variety. Lauren winds up caught between the star quarterback and the misfit everyone doubts. (Sounds a lot like Minka Kelly's Friday Night Lights character Lyla Garrity!)
"The daughter of the town Sheriff and girlfriend of cocky quarterback, Reid Collins, Lauren appears to be living her best life… but all she really wants is to put this small town in her rearview. With her sights set on making the cheer team at UT Austin as her ticket out, Lauren must navigate her strict father’s desire for her to stay in Ransom. Lauren’s only reprieve comes in the form of a new, unexpected love interest: Lucas Russell, a kind-hearted underdog from the other side of the tracks who her father and her friends do not approve of. "
On Jan. 19, Netflix announced even more casting news and seemingly filled out the rest of the main cast with Marianly Tejada, Jack Schumcher, Garrett Wareing, and Andrew Liner. A fair amount of recurring cast members also joined the cast and fleshed out some of the supporting characters we'll be seeing on screen.
Marianly Tejada will play Ellie Estevez, who's confident and headstrong and doesn't have time for people like Cap Fuller. Although she isn't looking to settle down, Ellie might just have eyes for the town's new mysterious drifter Yancy Grey, played by Top Gun: Maverick star Jack Schumacher. While he attempts to keep his past hidden, those things always bubble to the surface.
Manifest favorite Garrett Wareing stars as Lucas Russell, the underdog from the "other side of the tracks" that catches the eye of cheerleader Lauren Brigman. Meanwhile, Andrew Liner stars as Reid Collins, Lauren's quarterback boyfriend. Some recurring players include Jaren Robledo as Lucas' best friend Jack Yellowbird, Casey W. Johnson as Lucas' brother Kit, and Jennifer Ens as Lauren's friend Ashley.
Beyond those new recurring cast members are Brett Cullen as Staten's senator father Sam, Kate Burton as Quinn's music mentor, Niko Guardado as Reid Collins' friend and Quinn's nephew, Philip Winchester as the sheriff and Lauren's father, Justin Johnson Cortez as the deputy, and Kenneth Miller as Yancy's "friend" from prison.
The main cast of Ransom Canyon so far:
- Josh Duhamel as Staten Kirkland
- Minka Kelly as Quinn O'Grady
- James Brolin as Cap Fuller
- Eoin Macken as Davis Collins
- Lizzy Greene as Lauren Brigman
- Marianly Tejada as Ellie Estevez
- Jack Schumacher as Yancy Grey
- Garrett Wareing as Lucas Russell
- Andrew Liner as Reid Collins
Also, here are the recurring cast members:
- Jaren Robledo as Jack Yellowbird
- Casey W. Johnson as Kit Russell
- Jennifer Ens as Ashley
- Brett Cullen as Senator Samuel "Sam" Kirkland
- Kate Burton as Katherine Bullock
- Niko Guardado as Tim O'Grady
- Justin Johnson Cortez as Kai
- Kenneth Miller as Freddie
- Philip Winchester as Sheriff Dan Brigman
We'll share more casting announcements as they trickle in from Netflix!
From the creator of All American and a director of Ozark
As if Duhamel and Kelly’s casting weren’t enough of a draw to watch the series, the minds behind the scenes crafting the show are worth tuning in for, too. April Blair, the creator of The CW’s successful sports drama series All American, will take the reins as the creator, writer, and executive producer. Blair has also written such titles as Lemonade Mouth and Monte Carlo, as well as episodes of Jane By Design (which she created), Wednesday, and the Gossip Girl reboot.
In the press release for the series’ announcement from Netflix, it’s stated that the first two episodes will be directed by Amanda Marsalis, who has quite the directing résumé under her belt. Marsalis has directed six episodes of the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series Ozark, as well as episodes of Invasion, The Umbrella Academy, Westworld, Veronica Mars, Magnum P.I., Queen Sugar, and more. She will definitely bring some style to the series!
Filming will begin in 2024
Even though the series has been formally announced in December 2023, don’t expect Duhamel and Kelly to start filming right away. According to a report, production had been rumored to begin in September 2023, but the actor’s strike caused a delay in getting started. Deadline has reported that filming will commence in January after Duhamel wraps another project, which begins filming in January 2024.
According to reports, the series will begin filming on Jan. 30 and wrap on June 27. These dates haven't yet been confirmed by Netflix or members of the cast or crew, so we'll be sure to keep fans in the loop once official word of the production scheduled becomes known.
Although the synopsis sets the series in Texas, it’s rumored that the show will actually film in Albuquerque, New Mexico at a facility owned by Netflix. Minka Kelly has history in Albuquerque, as she spent a lot of her upbringing and adolescence there. Although she was born in Los Angeles and lived there for a time, she wrote extensively in her book about her experiences living and coming of age in Albuquerque. Surely, this will be a special connection for the actress.
How many Ransom Canyon books are there?
As mentioned above, the first season of the series will be based on the novel of the same name by Jodi Thomas. Being so, you don’t have to read every book in the series prior to the series’ premiere. You only have to read the first book, or you don’t have to read it or any book at all. However, it’s always fun to compare and contrast the book and adaptation before or after watching.
In total, there are 10 books by Thomas within the world of Ransom Canyon, though the two titles in the list below marked with an asterisk (Winter’s Camp and A Christmas Affair) aren’t technically official titles in the series. Winter’s Camp appears to be a prequel that gives backstory on the town’s history as well as Staten Kirkland’s family’s history. Check out all of the lovable titles in the lineup in the list below!
- Winter’s Camp (2015)*
- Ransom Canyon (2015)
- Rustler’s Moon (2016)
- Lone Heart Pass (2016)
- Sunrise Crossing (2016)
- Wild Horse Springs (2017)
- Indigo Lake (2017)
- A Christmas Affair (2017)*
- Mistletoe Miracles (2018)
- Christmas in Winter Valley (2019)
Stay tuned to Netflix Life for the latest news and updates on the upcoming series!