AMC western series “Hell on Wheels,” which premieres Nov. 6, will draw natural comparisons to HBO’s “Deadwood,” though perhaps the focus on the transcontinental railroad builders’ ever-moving camp will offer up a much darker “MASH.”
One aspect that most intrigued the actors who spoke at the Television Critics Assn. panel for “Hell” today was the show’s approach to post-Civil War racial issues.
“I feel a true responsibility to be as true as I can to what black Americans went through at that time,” said Common, who plays an emancipated slave, “because we suffered through a lot of things but we also prevailed in a lot of things.”
Anson Mount plays a former slave owner who finds himself tensely reunited with Common’s character on the railroad build, which is being run by Colm Meaney’s entrepreneur, Doc Durant.
“One of the things I find uncomfortable as an actor is taking on the (bigotry) of a character, which is something you must do,” Meaney said. “If someone is a bigot and you must play that, it can be a little bit uncomfortable. I find that sort of surprising that it can be a bit unnerving.”
Concluded Joe Gayton, one of the exec producers: “The key is not to shy away from it.”