A version of this story about Timothy Olyphant first appeared in the Movies & Limited Series issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
More than a decade after David Milch’s series “Deadwood” completed its three-year run on HBO, the profane period Western has come back as a two-hour movie with much of its original cast intact. Timothy Olyphant, who in the interim has starred in “Justified” and “The Santa Clarita Diet” and played the bad guy in “Live Free or Die Hard,” returns as righteous lawman Seth Bullock, 10 years older and a little wiser than he was the last time we saw him butting heads with Ian McShane’s Al Swearengen.
Did you get a kick out of being back in the world of “Deadwood?”
Oh, my God, yeah. I went from thinking it was a terrible idea and I didn’t want to do it to going completely 180 and thinking, “This is the best job ever and I don’t know why we’re not doing more.” I loved it.
So has the mustache been sitting in a drawer for all these years?
Yeah, that’s right. That mustache — I’ve wanted to have a mustache in just about every job I’ve ever had. Nobody lets you have a mustache. Amazing.
When you put it back on, was that the key to Bullock?
No. You just gotta say the words. Say the words, David takes care of everything. That’s the cool thing about acting: They tell you what to say, they give you your wardrobe. You need a wife, they supply one. You need little kids, they give you kids. You don’t have to do a lot.
Did you have to sit down and work out what’s happened to Seth Bullock over the last 10 years?
No, I don’t do that. (Pause) I mean, to immediately contradict myself, David and I had conversations about the story we wanted to tell, and you inevitably talk about what must have transpired.
His kids, for example, came out of those conversations. We thought, “Should he have kids? Historically, he had kids. Sure, let’s do it.”
Do you feel at all tied to what happened in the life of the real person your character is based on?
I don’t think of it that way. I just think of the story we’re trying to tell. I’ve always been fascinated with what David decides to honor historically and what truths he decides are in the way of the story. He sometimes seems to be willing to argue with history, and I’ve always admired that and been fascinated by it.
I’m certain we’re doing things the real guy never did, but I think we’re honoring the type of man he was — the type of man that made this country.
Read more at TheWrap.
Timothy Olyphant takes us behind the scenes of the long-awaited ‘Deadwood’ reunion and shares lore from the original series — including the real reason it was canceled.
In the 12 years since Deadwood was canceled, was there a point at which you assumed this reunion wouldn’t happen?
I never thought it would happen.
I wasn’t all that keen on it, to be honest with you. So, I just figured it wouldn’t happen because I wasn’t really interested in it happening. But it’s been really lovely. And contradicting that, I always was hoping to have the opportunity to work with David [Milch] again. [Playing Bullock again] had some appeal but I was more interested in working with David.
Obviously, Deadwood: The Movie can’t exist without you and it can’t exist without Ian McShane.
That’s nice of you to say. I never assumed that to be true.
At what point —
I’m being sincere about it. Put this mustache on anyone, it could work.
At what point did you start to understand that this had a real chance of happening, and that you wanted to do it?
I didn’t know I wanted to do it until about a few weeks ago. But I knew it had a chance a year or so ago. There was a natural script. David and I, we’d met a couple of times. I knew he was enthusiastic about it. So, I knew it was real. It feels like it’s almost been a year or so.
TVLINE | There were so many false starts to this project. Had you given up on the idea of it happening?
I always thought it was never going to happen. And the false starts I never, quite honestly, paid attention to. It was white noise.
TVLINE | What was your reaction when it looked like it was all going to come together finally?
My mindset was, “S–t. I guess I’m going to have to make some kind of decision here.” It was a very curious process. I did not expect to be in the position to actually have to make a decision; I just assumed it would go away. It’s a curious [thing] deciding on whether to do a job when all of your old friends have already committed to it and you kind of think, “Well, I’ve never been in a position to be such an a–hole.” But it was [ultimately] a really wonderful process with [series creator/writer] David Milch and [director] Dan Minahan and [HBO]’s Carolyn Strauss. I had a lot of conversations with them. The whole process was quite rewarding.
TVLINE | Why do you think you were more reluctant to sign on than some of your other co-stars?
High school reunions can be a lot of fun. But repeating your sophomore year? Not so fun. And I couldn’t tell if this was going to be the former or the latter. I didn’t know what it was going to feel like. Is it just going to be a lovely reunion, or is going to feel like, “Jesus, I’m being asked to do things I regret”?
TVLINE | Fans felt cheated out of a proper ending to this show. Did you feel like you had any unfinished business with Seth?
Perhaps it’s my own shortcomings, but I’ve never thought of a character ever needing closure. There is no character; it’s just a bunch of lines on a page. I think of it as a job. Where I feel [cheated] is not having an opportunity to celebrate the work that we did with [my] fellow cast members and to say goodbye knowing that that’s the end of this particular journey. But that’s not how this business tends to work, so what the f–k are you gonna do?
Read more at tvline.com
Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and murder in and around frozen Minnesota. Yet all of these tales mysteriously lead back one way or another to Fargo, North Dakota.
Season 4: April 19, 2020.