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.
What made you decide to say yes, given your ambivalence?
For practical reasons, it worked. I was available, it shoots here and the money was good. And I’m glad I did it.
The scene you filmed yesterday had Bullock at his angriest and most violent. It had been a while since I’d seen you in that mode. What’s it been like returning to that character, having to play these extreme emotions?
I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the scenes, I’ve enjoyed the job. And there are times where I’ve realized it feels like just yesterday I was doing this, and at the same time, it feels like it’s been a long time. It’s a surreal experience, and so far a really lovely one.
The process on the movie seems less chaotic than it was on the show. I know HBO insisted on a locked script; David is limited in what he can change. How has it felt not having the huge, last-minute alterations that were his hallmark?
To criticize my own personal feelings about where people are in their lives and what they’re going through, I feel a little ripped off. Because one of the great appeals of working with David is the chaos. And in the same respect of feeling like I don’t know why these fuckers blew this show up 12 years ago, there’s a tinge of me feeling ripped off that these fuckers didn’t get this thing going sooner. Because what I do miss, without getting too much in the weeds about why I may have not been as interested in this as perhaps others, I always thought if we’re going to do it, we should go back and give David the opportunity to do what he does best, which is multiple episodes.
He’s one of the greatest episodic writers the genre has ever seen. And to some degree, my concern has always been, for our movie, what’s the fucking point? My recollection of what made the show great was never the plot. What made the show great was spending time with these characters, and that whatever characters were on screen, the show might as well be about them. And when you do a movie, you just don’t have the real estate. So, nobody wants to see The Untouchables where the lady with the baby carriage at the train station has 20 pages of material, because you’ve got to take out 20 pages that goes to Eliot Ness and there lies the rub. Right? So, the idea of doing a movie of this show, by its very nature, my concern was, “Are we not destroying the show? Are you killing the very thing by handcuffing it?” But all that being said, I’m glad I did it.
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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.