USA TODAY – BEVERLY HILLS — A Discovery Channel miniseries about the creation of the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle company offered a perk to its stars: the chance to ride modern re-creations of the company’s early bikes.
Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones), who plays one of the company’s founders in the three-part Harley and the Davidsons (Sept. 5-7, 9 ET/PT), talked about the fun early motorcycles, with engines designed from scratch, at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Monday.
“I was lucky enough to ride replicas of bikes that don’t exist anymore, or they’re behind glass at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee,” he says, adding he rode motorcycles in his 20s. “They were great fun to ride and very challenging to ride, but I think compared to the (originals). they were probably really smooth.”
Harley follows founders Walter Davidson (Huisman), William “Bill” Harley (Robert Aramayo, Game of Thrones) and Arthur Davidson (Bug Hall, The Little Rascals) from the creation of their company at the dawn of the 20th century through its early decades of growth and development, as its motorcycles became a symbol of American freedom.
Harley features scenes of motorcycle racing, a very risky proposition in the early years, said executive producer Dimitri Doganis.
“At the time, motorcycling was an incredibly dangerous activity and motorcycle racing was extremely dangerous. … the bikes had no brakes and no gears. You would turn them on and they would go as fast as they could go,” Doganis said. The machines also would spew oil on the velodrome-like wooden tracks, so that “these things were not only hugely dangerous to the riders, they were also massively dangerous to the spectators because the bikes would fly into the crowd and there were historical examples … of multiple spectators being killed. This was a gladiatorial arena.”
Harley also stars Stephen Rider (Daredevil), Jessica Camacho (Sleepy Hollow), Daniel Coonan (EastEnders) and Gabe Luna (Matador).