Irish sensibilities add flavor to ‘Deadwood’

Worthy of attention: Paula Malcomson

Best part of working in TV? “Doing something for HBO.”

What’s the worst part? “Not being able to get away from the same people for seven months … especially seeing Tim Olyphant every day.”

Favorite scene from last year? “When Jane and I are drunk together.”

Favorite shows? “The Sopranos,” “Elimidate,” “Jeopardy!”

In the first season of HBO’s “Deadwood,” Paula Malcomson’s Trixie is quick to realize she’s never going to receive a bouquet of flowers or a box of candy from her companion, Ian McShane’s dastardly Al Swearengen.

She’s a whore and he’s a saloon owner and pimp. But his affection for her was never more evident than when Swearengen finds out she tried to commit suicide and, in a creepy but reasoned manner, calmly tells her, “Don’t ever do that again.”

That’s about as affectionate as you’ll ever see the couple on David Milch’s compelling Western, which just finished its second season on the pay cabler. And now Al must deal with Trixie’s newest beau, hardware store owner Sol Star.

“Al’s the go-to guy and the known commodity,” says Malcomson, a native of Belfast, Ireland. “Their relationship is still strong. It’s a beautiful story set along incredible ugliness and debauchery.”

Among all the foul-mouthed residents of Deadwood, Trixie’s blue streak is equal to none. While much has already been made of the vocabularly, Malcomson has embraced it.

“Cursing is heavily used in the Irish language,” she explains. “It’s not a stretch for me, and I have no qualms about it. It doesn’t fall far from the real me.”

Trixie is arguably the most complex character on “Deadwood.” There’s a sense she enjoys the low self-esteem of being a prostitute, with her ill-timed but often hilarious self-degrading behavior popping up unexpectedly. There’s also a side, however, that wants to be nourished, both personally and professionally.

Those conflicting impulses are a tribute to Malcomson. While Milch’s words gave the character context, it was the actress who embodied it and fleshed out her soul.

“I made her up,” she says. “I didn’t think about it more than I just knew who she was.”

Malcomson left Belfast in 1992 and landed in Gotham, where acting wasn’t even on her radar. She was working in a bar when a filmmaker came in and asked if she was interested in being an actress. After immediately dismissing him, she found the offer intriguing and eventually landed a role in the well-received “Tombstone.”

Malcomson, an actor always looking for her next job, feels a bit strange relishing the success of “Deadwood.”

“In these last two years, there’s been this buzz, and you feel like the show’s really out there,” she says. “You go to the grocery story and people come up to and ask, ‘So what happened on Sunday?'”

For Trixie, probably a lot of cussing, screwing and, alas, evolving.

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