‘Deadwood’ At 16: Producer Talks the Movie, HBO’s Support

Hard to believe a series that began 16 years ago and only ran for three seasons is getting a feature film, but thats exactly whats happening with HBO’s Deadwood.

Yesterday, we were treated to the first two officially released images from the production, featuring series starts Ian McShane as Al Swearengen and Timothy Olyphant as US Marshall Seth Bullock. We’ve had a cast list kicking around for awhile [although almost every ‘official’ release of the list has been missing W. Earl Brown‘s name, even though he’s been very vocal about being part of the cast], but we really didn’t know WHAT the film, written by series creator David Milch, was going to be about.

Deadwood film Executive Producer Carolyn Strauss recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly, in what is the first interview granted about the feature film. EW started out by asking the question on all our minds, why now?

Carolyn Strauss: The stars aligned. David had an idea for the script and the will to write it and we managed to get all the actors. I wish I could say it was one thing but there had certainly been an appetite for it at [HBO] for a few years. Me being a glass-half-empty person, I thought, “How is it ever going to work?” And it worked!

Strauss’s reaction to reading the script certainly has us more intrigued:

CS: It’s like, “Oh wow, I can’t believe I get to read this stuff again.” Every draft kept getting better. It was hard to believe 16 years had passed since we did the pilot and then being able to read these voices again was such a treat.

As to getting the band back together [a truly impressive feat considering how many of the key players are involved in not-so-small projects], Strauss commented:

CS: Tim[othy Olyphant] was pretty tough. I will say he really dug in — in a good way, not a stubborn way — with good thoughts on where to take his character and the story and kept pushing on that, and they were helpful thoughts in terms of getting the script where it needed to be.

And, the thing we really want to know, what the heck will the film be ABOUT? The Ghost of Sy Tolliver?

EW: The movie is set in 1889 as the town prepares to celebrate South Dakota joining the Union as the 40th state. What’s the film about, basically?

CS: If you ask David, it’s about the passage of time. The toll of time on people. It’s mellowed some people and hardened others. And it’s about the town’s maturing and becoming part of the Union and what that event sets in motion, in a very personal way for the people that it brings in town and what ensues. The toll of time has not just struck Deadwood and the characters but all the people making it as well, you get to see the faces of people 12 years later. And it was really profound. Actors were crying at the table read — not necessarily from the script but the emotion of being back and doing something we all loved doing so much. You normally have a great experience and then it’s over. You don’t normally get the chance to do this in life. It was kind of a gift.

The time has taken its greatest toll on Swearengen. He’s the person who really drove so much of the life of the town and there’s a sense of that power waning somewhat, and what ensues of that is a big part of the story.

EW: Can the movie be watched on its own? Or is knowledge of the series pretty essential to keeping up with the story?

CS: I suppose you could [watch the movie without seeing the series] but it would be a much-enhanced experience if you brought your knowledge of the series to it. There are old scores, old relationships — lots of things in the film that really pick up where we left off.

Hopefully a first look trailer isn’t too far off, we’re all pretty excited to see whats in store when we return to Deadwood. Seasons 1-3 are available on HBOGO, and Amazon[amazon_link asins=’B00G575PM0′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’bleedingco0c7-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6d7de582-0476-11e9-a6b8-0178b995806e’].

About Mary Anne Butler

Bleeding Cool News Editor Mary Anne Butler (Mab, for short) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), and most recently Bleeding Cool.



Over the past 10 years, she’s built a presence at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). 



Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. 



Though she be but little, she is fierce. #MabTheProfessional

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