Discovery Channel is sending us back in time to the beginning of what evolved into one of America’s most well-known motorcycle brands: the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. A mini-series, “Harley and the Davidsons,” includes three two-hour installments. Part 1 will air at 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 5. Parts two and three air on Sept. 6, and Sept. 7.
The story provides insight into the successes and struggles of company founders, Walter and Arthur Davidson and Bill Harley.
The cast includes Michiel Huisman (“Game of Thrones”) as AMA Hall of Famer Walter Davidson, Robert Aramayo (“Game of Thrones”) as AMA Hall of Famer William (Bill) Harley, and Bug Hall (“The Little Rascals”) playing the role of AMA Hall of Famer Arthur Davidson.
Get a sneak peek at the three-part mini series: "Harley and the Davidsons."
Hall took a few minutes to speak with the AMA about his passion for motorcycling and his role in the series.
American Motorcyclist: I was told you ride. What do you ride?
Bug Hall: I was a BMW guy my whole life. I had R1200Cs and R1200Rs and owned a few other bikes over the years. Had a [Suzuki] GSXR as a teenager, had a couple Hondas. In total, I probably have wrecked about 12 bikes over the years.
AM: How long have you been riding?
BH: I started in my early teens. My dad put me on Honda Shadow when I was 13 or 14. I couldn’t figure out the friction zone on the clutch. It was stall, stall, stall. Then one night, I had a dream that I was fluidly riding, then next day got on it, and it was like it just clicked. I didn’t own or drive a car until about four or five years ago. Everywhere I went, I went on a bike–back and forth across America. I’ve roughly estimated that I’ve hit the million-mile mark.
AM: Where is your favorite place to ride?
BH: Oh man, come on. That’s an impossible question! The Pacific coast is beautiful. The reality, though, is the 10 [Interstate 10]. Jump on it in California and take it to Florida. You’ll see every type of scenery. At least half of my million miles were gathered on the 10.
AM: What drew you to this role? Does this role hold any significance to you because you’re a rider?
BH: First and foremost, I heard that they were doing this story. That’s what got me out of what I call my “mini-retirement.” I had been focusing on writing, and, every now and then, my guys would call and try to entice me out of retirement. When they called about this, I went: “Yeah I absolutely have to take a look at this.”
What really appealed to me was Arthur. He was like me. I’m a Texas boy who loves to fish, the peaceful quiet of nature and being by myself. Arthur really was that quiet guy. When he was in sales mode, he was a very different guy. He was fair, honest and just, but could sell you anything. It’s like a superpower he’s using for good. I’ve never been that guy. I’m awkward in conversations. I’d like to think he was, too, but learned to talk to people and sell things. That was really inspiring to me the more I studied him.
Bug Hall plays Arthur Davidson in the series.
AM: How much did you know much about Arthur or the company before you took the role?
BH: When we were studying these guys, one of the details I first noticed is that these guys [Arthur, Walter and Bill], in every photo we saw of them, buttoned their bottom button of their suits. We looked up pictures of other guys in Milwaukee at the time, and it wasn’t common. In some way, they were rebelling against the business world. These were country boys. There was a rebellion in all of them, and I think that’s what made their machines so great. They made it their way. Bill Harley was a genius of an engineer. He didn’t make things that were already out there. He redefined them. These guys were on a different level, but yet they were country boys. I didn’t know very much of any of that until I took the project on.
AM: Where was the series shot?
BH: In Romania. The reality is we wanted to be as authentic as possible, and Milwaukee [where Harley-Davidson is based] has built up since that time. It doesn’t look like it did at the turn of the [20th] century. It was really a matter of authenticity. America has moved on into the future, but we did go up to Milwaukee and spend time with guys at Harley-Davidson and tour the factory. It was a lot of fun going to the museum and hearing from the curator.
AM: How closely does the series stick to the true storyline and how much is embellished?
BH: In 25 years, I’ve never worked with a group of people that were so careful with regard to authenticity. Every nut and bolt was checked and triple checked. The men themselves and the story. Of course, there are sections that had to be condensed. For the most part, it is so spot on. We were working with people that cared so much.
AM: Are the Harley and Davidson families involved in the series at all? Did they help contribute history or even provide bikes or props?
BH: No, the family is not involved. But, as actors, we were lucky enough to get to meet Willie G. Davidson [AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend] during our trip to the factory.