William Shockley

This blog is run by Jennifer aka Mrs.Lawson/HankLover, a fan of the character Hank Lawson and actor William Shockley.  To find William, please visit:

Official Website:  http://www.williamshockley.com

In September 2013, William Shockley kindly agreed to do the following interview:

Mr. Shockley,

First off, I need to thank you once again on behalf of myself and all the rest of your fans for agreeing to this interview.  In having read/listened/watched every past interview of yours I could get my hands on, I realize many of these questions have been asked of you before.  I thank you for your patience in answering them again.  With Dr. Quinn being on several channels today in reruns, you have many new fans to add to the ones that watched when the show first aired.  We are all very eager to hear what you have to say! 

From Jennifer aka Mrs. Lawson /HankLover-

Q.   Through an interview on the DQ Times site, I learned that you have Cherokee ancestry, and in fact are a registered member of the Cherokee nation.  Was it was ever difficult to play the prejudiced side of Hank?  In your opinion, what would it have taken to get him to see people of other nationalities from his in a different light?

A.    For openers, “Hank” did not have a prejudice side.  Lack of knowledge and information led to many decisions that were made during that time, i.e., burning down a camp that was thought to have disease.  That was the norm.  Man did not understand illness like we do today, hence drastic measures were taken.  If you look beneath the surface of the “Hank” character, you will find that he was not angry or prejudice, he was simply functioning from a point of view that was gut-level honest and status quo for that time period.

Acting is art, not a documentary.  I’ve played good guys and bad guys.  My job is to get underneath the skin of a character, create the mental world, and replicate a performance as honestly as I can.

Q.  You’ve had the opportunity to be in front of the camera as an actor as well as work behind the scenes in the capacity of scriptwriter and producer.  Which role do you prefer?

A. Acting and scriptwriting are rewarding and challenging in completely different ways.  It’s like comparing an appetizer to dessert.  Both are excellent components to a meal.

I actually started writing a script for the first time while on “Dr. Quinn”.  I became good friends with Josef Anderson, a “Dr. Quinn” writer/producer, and he mentored me.  We wrote a pilot entitled “Lake Travis”, along with Mark Harwell, that was set up at Miramax Television.  Unfortunately, the pilot did not get made, but I still have high hopes for it.  It’s a fun, private-eye story, with some heavy moments, centered around small town friends, a honky tonk and country music. 

Q.   In writing “Love’s Gamble”, I’ve run into a few cases of “writer’s block”, where I felt like I couldn’t write a decent sentence to save my life.  As a writer, do you ever experience something similar, and if so, how do you get past it? 

A.  “Writer’s block”, in my opinion, is part of the quest.  Like any job, I feel one has to “show up”.  Some days are easier than others, but in the case of writing, the fact is the words will not write themselves.  Trap yourself in a box and challenge your mind to be creative. 

Q.   Other than golf, what hobbies/interests do you pursue in your free time?  Do you still paint? 

A.  Golf is a great sport, both mentally and physically.  I like being outdoors for the most part.  Gardening, traveling, riding bikes.  Exploration of this gift we call life.  If I’m not painting a canvas, I’m painting a house. 

Q.  In googling “William Shockley”, it came to my attention that there’s an American physicist and inventor by the same name.  Any relation? 

A.    No.

Q.   What’s on your “bucket list”, both professionally and personally?

A.   Professionally I want to direct a film.  Personally, I want to visit as many countries as possible. 

Q.   In many pictures of yourself that you’ve shared, you’re wearing a necklace that looks to be made of wood or stone of some sort.  In addition, there was a leather bracelet you wore in Dr. Quinn.  Do these items hold some sort of personal significance or sentimental value for you?

A.    No, not really.  The stone is Tiger Eye.  I simply like the necklace.  And the bracelet I wore on “Dr. Quinn” was not actually a bracelet.  It was a strap of leather.  I thought that “Hank” should have a strap of leather always convenient, just in case he needed it for some reason, kind of like carrying a pocketknife.

From Wendy M.-

Q.   Before Hank you were bounty hunter Jake Colter in “The Young Riders”, of which I’m also a fan.  Are you particularly fond of period pieces/westerns, or did you choose the roles of ‘Jake Colter’ and ‘Hank Lawson’ for the specific roles they were and the opportunities they gave you?

A.  didn’t choose the “Jake Colter” role or the “Hank Lawson” role.  I auditioned for both shows.  There is something fun and liberating about playing a character in the Old West.  The times were so different.  A man was a man, plain and simple.  Modern technology hadn’t taken over daily life.  People worked hard to survive.  Justice was swift.  The opportunity to work the land and travel west was a reality.  I can relate to all of those elements.

From Ella-

Q.  There’s a theory among some Dr. Quinn fans that Samantha is actually Hank’s daughter instead of Horace’s. (the looks, the way Hank was with her and could calm her, the time: it was a pretty 'short' pregnancy, and so on)  Was this thought ever in your mind while playing Hank, and did this possibility (even if it was never directly suggested in the series) influence your acting in respective scenes? 

A.    This thought was never suggested in the series or by the writers to me.  The interaction of “Hank” and “Samantha” was tender and true, which I truly adored.  Again, look below the surface of Hank.  This moment allowed the audience to see a side of “Hank” that was so often masked.  I always wanted more episodes with a deeper reveal of “Hank’s” complex personality, and subsequent interaction with different characters.

Q.  Today you write scripts yourself, and I imagine that talent didn’t come overnight.  Did you ever feel a wish to write an episode for Dr. Quinn or get involved in the scriptwriting for the series, or was that out of the question?

A.  Beth Sullivan and the writers did a brilliant job on “Dr. Quinn”, and to be honest, I personally was not qualified to write an episode at that time.  What the writers and producers did do once in awhile, was have each actor go to the writer’s office and talk about ideas related to their character.  This was a very smart and cool thing for them to do.  In one meeting I had with the writers, I suggested the idea to have “Hank” ask “Teresa” to privately teach him how to read, which would create a conflict with “Jake”.  That idea led to an episode, which was very rewarding to have happen. 

Q.   As we all know, the series was practically killed and never allowed to have a proper ending. What would have been your imagination of a real and prepared ending of the series, especially for your character Hank?

A.  It’s almost impossible for me to come up with one tidy ending to the series in one episode.  Because the show was cancelled so abruptly, the arc of the characters and the show were in mid-stream, so to speak.  I think the writers could have taken an entire season to wrap up the series, and given that time, they would have done a beautiful job bringing the series to an end.  

From Nessa-

Q.   If you’d had total control over Hank as a character, what would you have done with him if the show hadn't been canceled? 

A.    I would have revealed more layers of Hank’s inner life.

From Sharon-

Q.   What would you have wanted for your character if DQ had gone on?  If they want to make a new movie, where would you want Hank to be?

A.    If a new movie were to be made today, it would take a mountain of thought on the part of the writer(s).  So much time has gone by.  That being said, it would be pretty incredible to dream up the world in which the “Dr. Quinn” characters would be living.  

From Stephanie Fiorina- 

Q.   Do you want to “Bring back Dr. Quinn?”

A.   It would incredible to #BringBackDrQuinn.  There is a rich history still waiting to be told.

From Sylvia- 

Q.  Will you be making an appearance as good old Hank if and when the series comes back or if there’s a third movie?

A.    If I am asked to return, I would love the opportunity. 

From Sarah aka DQMWartist-

Q.   William, I was reading your bio and I completely understand what it’s like to be bit at a young age by your passion in life. While acting isn’t my gig in life, art is my true passion. As a teen I enjoyed DQMW during the years that it aired and have seen you in Showgirls and Welcome to Paradise. Of the roles you have played over the years, has there been a favorite?

Another Sarah, Sarah aka Hank’s Lady, had the same question- Which role have you enjoyed the most so far?

A.    “Hank” holds a very special place in my heart.  When doing a TV series, an actor has the privilege to live for years at a time with a character, which is a true gift, especially if you are surrounded by a wonderful cast and crew, which we had on “Dr. Quinn”. 

I play a role in an upcoming film, “Thriftstore Cowboy”, that I really like… A complex, modern day drama about a man with a troubled past and the reconciliation of his family and true love.  FYI: The title of this film is going to change (per our distributor).  I don’t know the new title yet, but the film will be released on DVD Summer 2014.  Joe Lando has a role in this film.

Also from Sarah aka Hank’s Lady-

Q. What was the best thing about playing the role of Hank in the DQ series?

A. A profound character.  Excellent writing.  Fantastic cast and crew.

Q.   As an actor, what is the most important factor in choosing a new role, i.e. the script, the director, etc?

A. Always the script.  The cliché rings true, “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage”.

From Lina aka R3-1 M4y3r-

Q. What was your favorite episode and scene of playing Hank and why? 

A.   The Secret – It showed the deep, sensitive side of “Hank” and the love he had for his son.  Also “Man in the Moon”. 

Q.   Who was your favorite character on the show?  (other than Hank)

A. Why, Dr. Quinn”, of course.  I always wanted “Hank” to have a courtship with “Michaela”, just to spice things up.  J

Q.   What do you think are Hank’s best and worse traits?

A.    Best - Honesty
Worst - Honesty

From Bonnie-

Q.   If you could go back to any point/event in history for a couple of days, what would it be? And why?

A.   Yesterday’s gone forever, tomorrow may never come.  I’ll stay right here in the present moment. 

Q.   Who is that one person you've been longing to work with someday but haven't had the chance yet? And what would the project be?

A.  Jeff Bridges – He is an incredible, visceral actor.  I would love to play his younger brother… And I get mistaken for him all the time.  Seems like a natural fit.

From Marion in Germany-

Q.   What did you think when the writers made Hank the bad guy most of the time in season 6?

A.   I was thrilled with the writing in Season 6.  “Hank” wasn’t the bad guy at all.  He was anti-heroic.  He didn’t sugarcoat anything.  He simply reacted truthfully to any given situation. 

From Debbie L.-

Q.   What cool thing did you take from the set?

A.    I have my hat, gloves, and boots.  Great mementos.

Q.   How much of you is similar to Hank?

A.    The similarities are we both operate from the truth.

From Heidi aka Hank’sGirl-

Q.   When you were little what did you want to be besides an actor?

A.   A professional baseball player.  I played third base, and dreamt of playing in the major leagues. 

From Pam in Texas- 

Q.   Were you really playing bass in Kix’s “New to this Town” video?

A.    I learned the song and was playing the notes to the music, but it wasn’t “live”.  We were all playing along to the recorded song.

Q.   What other instruments do you play besides guitar? 

A.    Very basic piano by ear.  And the djembe. 

Q.   As an elementary school teacher, I’m always looking for new books to engage my students.  In a past interview, it was mentioned you were doing art work for a children’s book. Was the book ever published?  What is the title?

A.  The manuscript is finished, and it is entitled, “Dear Sweet Franzblah”.  There are 100 verses that rhyme.  I’m still looking for an artist to do the drawings.  Once completed, I’ll try to get it published.  

Q.   Do you still keep up with any friends from Tech? (Sun's up Gun's Up)

A.    Yes, a few.

Q.   How is Cafe Josie doing?

A.    We sold Café Josie at the end of 2012, but it is still doing great business with the new owners. 

Q.  Have you ever considered doing work in your home state of TX?  Palo Duro Canyon has LOADS of history, and the landscape would be ideal for many of the movies in your current repertoire…

A.    I would love to do a film or TV series in Texas!  Team Two Entertainment is currently in talks with a Dallas based company about creating a company together to produce family films. 

From Laura in New Zealand-

Q.  What was the routine of working on Dr. Quinn like?  It was a long-running show with a large ensemble cast…did you all live on location for a certain number of months out of the year, did you have to go to set every day or were weekends free, how many hours a day were you filming, etc.?  What did actors do when they weren’t in or were only in a small part of an episode?  If you weren’t in an episode, did the whole cast still have to keep up with what was happening in the plot, so they knew how to play their own character’s interaction with the others? 

A.    “Dr. Quinn” was filmed at Paramount Ranch in L.A.  All of the actors lived locally.  Some episodes required more time on the set than other episodes, depending on how big the character’s part was that episode.

Q.   Which actor was the most and least like their character?

A.    All of the actors were brilliant at being chameleons.

Q.   Were there any practical jokers in the cast and/or crew?

A.    Joe Lando and I had a brilliant time working together.  He and I were great friends, and still are.  Every day was an adventure full of good times and mischievous fun.

From Carrie-

Q.   I'd love to hear you talk about your journey creatively. For instance, you must get word of a great project that becomes so edited from beginning to end that it looks totally different as a finished product than it had been at the beginning. Now that you’ve been a part of several great projects in Hollywood, what have you learned about the process itself?

A.    The filmmaking process is fluid, like the ocean.  It ebbs and flows.  Every day is different, a challenge, from writing the script, to production, to distribution.  It’s ultimately about the story, not the glory.  One has to be willing to make sacrifices for the good of the overall film.

From Maria in Germany-

Q.   What did the character of Hank mean to you?

A.    Everything.  Truth and honesty. 

Q.   Can you tell us about any projects you have in the works? 

A.    All updates can be found at:


  1. Kudos to William and Jennifer for a very interesting Q&A session. I'm glad that I got up out of bed to see if she had posted it. I loved the variety of questions. I also learned that I sent someone to Café Josie a few weeks ago with high expectations--I hope that the new owners serve food that is just as wonderful. I also agree with William that I would love to see Lake Travis made into a movie--or series, actually. I was lucky enough to read an early draft and I loved the characters and setting. Thanks and congratulations on a job well done! Rhonda

  2. This is fantastic! Such a thrill to be able to interview someone you love and admire!! Love the questions and answers even more!!

    1. It IS pretty fantastic. :-) Thanks for commenting.

  3. Thank you so much to Jennifer and William for this very interesting and informative interview.Stéphanie

    1. Thank you, Stephanie, for participating. :-)

  4. First, and foremost I want to thank Mr. Shockley for taking time and answering all the interesting questions. I want to thank Jennifer for posting and setting up the questionnaire. I found one question very inquisitive, the thought of William Shockley playing a role with Jeff Bridges. That sure would pull the women out of the crowd. Not only are both men very talented, but with age both are extremely sexy men. That would be a movie any woman would want to see. Thank you Mr. Shockley for all the years of Dr. Quinn and your manly and creative character as HANK!!!

    1. Bonnie, Jeff Bridges looks as if he could be William's older brother in many of his recent films. It would be a great pairing! I can't believe no one has thought of it in casting yet.

    2. Thanks for the lovely comment, Bonnie. I'm happy you enjoyed the interview.

  5. This is so interesting!! Thank you to William Shockley for answering these questions! And thanks to Jennifer for putting this together. I really enjoyed reading it! Very interesting answers...especially the comments about Hank's honesty and about looking beneath the surface. Debbie L

    1. Thanks for reading, Debbie! Glad you enjoyed. :)

  6. A huge thank you to our wonderful writer of Love's Gamble for setting this up and to William for responding. It's fun to take time out of my day to have a little "Hank" time =]

  7. Finally I got around to reading the interview and I thought it was wonderful. Well done, Jennifer, on putting this together and big thanks to William for responding to all the questions.

  8. I hope that William is a better person in real life. On the Dr. Quinn show is truly a butthole!


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