Anson Mount in ‘Hell on Wheels’

Road to the Emmys 2012: The Actor

Anson Mount’s first scene in AMC’s railroad saga “Hell on Wheels” found his character impersonating a preacher and putting a bullet through the forehead of a man confessing his sins.

Bad-ass credentials stamped and verified, Mount’s ex-Confederate soldier spent the remainder of the show’s first season working as a railroad foreman while trying to track down the Union rogues who murdered his wife.

Save for the thirst for vengeance, the role of Cullen Bohannon seems tailormade for the 39-year-old Mount, a Tennessean with pride in his roots and a love for the Great Outdoors.

“One of my biggest pet peeves is how hard it is to find projects set between New York and L.A. that aren’t stereotyping Southerners,” Mount says by phone from Calgary, Canada, where he’s shooting season two. “I think it’s pretty ballsy to have a protagonist who’s a former Confederate. Hopefully we’ll continue to upend expectations.”

When “Hell” returns for its second season in August, Mount says auds will see more to Cullen’s character besides his single-minded pursuit of revenge.

“You can only chase the one-armed man for so long before people start to ask questions about why you’re doing the chasing,” Mount says. “We’re going to get into what led Cullen to war initially and what keeps him fighting these wars.”

Those questions intrigue Mount, who hoped that a western might come along.

“To get a series like this. . .well, let’s just say it feels good to ride a horse again.”