‘Deadwood’ Cast Describes Emotional Homecoming on the Historic Set

The phrase “Welcome the f— back” marks the billboards and posters for the return of “Deadwood,” but that sentiment doesn’t just apply to the audience.

Returning to the town of Deadwood was a homecoming of sorts for the cast and crew of the HBO show, who shared that stepping back into the meticulously recreated late-1800s town, with all its specificity, and seeing the iconic characters brought back to life for “Deadwood: The Movie” was an emotional experience.

“We left part of our spirit there. Our footprint was still there. To put your foot back there, we all wanted to be back there,” W. Earl Brown, who plays Dan Dority, told Variety on the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the movie on Tuesday night, saying that he could hear a cacophony of tissues being pulled from boxes to wipe away tears at the table read.

“Stepping into the Gem [Bar] was the first pinch me moment. I can’t f–king believe this, the design was so specific to what we had back then — the moment that I let go,” he added.

Timothy Olyphant (Seth Bullock) shared that he was taken with the “little things” when he got back on set after 13 years.

“It was the wallpaper,” Olyphant said of what first conjured memories of working on the original series. “Even though it was only three years of my life, it had quite an impact. It was an overwhelming experience — like going home to see some kind of grade school.”

“It was a total immersive creative experience from the moment you go on to the moment you go off,” Ian McShane (Al Swearengen) echoed of revisiting the town, saying that he “reveled” in the opportunity to work with show runner David Milch again.

To account for the 10-year passage of time in the Deadwood universe, director Daniel Minahan explained that the creative team modernized the town. But despite the new technology, it was still the same dusty camp they left years ago. “It was bit of a flashback,” Minahan said. “I had so many formative experiences on that back lot. The incredible community [the cast and crew] created years ago kept it alive inside of them.”

John Hawkes, Timothy Olyphant, Kim Dickens, David Milch, Molly Parker, Robin Weigert, Paula Malcomson and Ian McShane'Deadwood' film premiere, Arrivals, Cinerama Dome, Los Angeles, USA - 14 May 2019
CREDIT: Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

The woman behind Calamity Jane (actress Robin Weigert), watched the series in the intervening years between its cancellation in 2006 and the finale movie, but had a sensory reconnection when she physically stepped into Deadwood. “Walking back into a place that had such a distinct scent to it was a total emotional trigger,” Weigert said. “You’re suspended out of time and you’re in this most cherished loving space with [David Milch], who has made these characters so lovingly and with so much intelligence.”

Molly Parker (Alma Garret) said that after stepping onto set and suiting up in corseted 1800s garb, she too was overwhelmed with “sense memory.” Parker also recalled that she didn’t hesitate to sign on for more Deadwood; she had unfinished business.

“I don’t think there was ever a sense of saying goodbye,” she said about the way the series ended. Today, Parker feels a sense of closure, admitting that the movie is “probably a goodbye.”

Deadwood: The Movie” premieres May 31 on HBO.

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