Q: In Season 1, the focus was Cullen‘s search for vengeance for his family. Now it’s the search for his family. Did you go back and study Season 1 when planning Season 4? Also, how do you balance Cullen’s desire for family with his addiction to the railroad? — Speech Girl
A: In life, we sometimes go in circles when we don’t necessarily want to. It is a common theme that runs through the series. Cullen’s search for his family now is more about healing himself and becoming a whole person, as opposed to just trying to get the anger and anguish out. We’ve seen his attachment to the railroad in the past. In the finale this season, he ends up quitting, but then joining the [Central Pacific] railroad in order to find his family. What Huntington said is a good question for Cullen: How badly do you want to find your family?
Q: A script can possibly and suddenly evolve into a storyline you had not previously pondered. Has this been the case with Season 4 of Hell on Wheels, or did you have a clear understanding from beginning to end as to how this current season would play out? — Cathy P.
A: The writers have a lot of lead time before we begin production, so we have a pretty good road map before we get started. This season, a couple of things surprised me. The death of Sidney Snow [in Episode 411] and the decision to amputate his leg to try to save him was something that came up. We didn’t plan on that. The hanging of Ruth [in Episode 412] was also not something we planned on early in the season. We thought Sidney might shoot Cullen. As we started to move through the season, we knew Ezra would be killed, and it emerged that Ruth would be Sidney’s killer — then we decided where to go from there with her character.
Q: Do you know what will happen to each character by season’s end, or do you allow the characters a chance to develop with the storyline as the season progresses? – Marie
Continue reading “Hell on Wheels Q&A – Showrunner John Wirth Answers Fan Questions” »
This week, Anson Mount shares with Entertainment Weekly some advice he once received from Jon Hamm, while TV Fanatic is already eager for season 5. Plus, The Huffington Post is still lamenting Ruth’s death. Read on for more:
• Anson Mount tells Entertainment Weekly a story about receiving advice from Jon Hamm (that involves bumming a cigarette from Aaron Paul).
• TV Fanatic, reviewing the season 4 finale, remarks that season 4 “definitely came back with a vengeance proving that this western television series has still got it. And it’s certainly got me ready to take that final journey with Cullen and company.”
• The Huffington Post wasn’t ready for Ruth to die or for Hell on Wheels to lose its “courageous spiritual overseer.”
Continue reading “Anson Mount Shares Jon Hamm’s Advice; TV Fanatic Ready for Season 5″ »
Rick Clark, Music Supervisor on AMC’s Hell on Wheels, talks about selecting music for Season 4 and featuring a Bob Dylan song in the season finale.
Q: This is your first season as Music Supervisor for Hell on Wheels. What interested you most about working on the series?
A: I really enjoy well-conceived, well-written westerns. Hell on Wheels, in my book, is one of the best. The writing on the show is extraordinary, as is the acting. All around, it’s a top-notch show with rich, detailed characters and powerful moral dilemmas.
Q: The Season 4 finale features a just-released alternate take of a Bob Dylan classic, “I Shall Be Released.” How did you come to select that song as an appropriate one to use in the episode’s closing moments?
A: John Wirth, the showrunner, called me up with an idea for putting a piece of music in at the very last scene. He suggested the song, but performed by a different artist. I liked the song, but that particular version didn’t communicate what I felt was most effective for the scene. What it all comes down to is what works for what’s at hand. I don’t care what the song is or who it is – all I want to do is feel something. I just want to support the power of the moment. There’s an emotional nakedness to Dylan’s performance of this song, and when I put it up against the picture, it worked.
So, I called the guys at Dylan’s office and we arrived at this recording that, at that point, had been previously unreleased. I listened to it and immediately thought it was a perfect fit. A lot of people would have gone for a grand, big finish for the final scene, but to me, Dylan’s more personal feeling performance left enough air in the scene to allow Anson [Mount]’s acting to really breathe. They complemented each other. The final look on Cullen’s face, combined with this beautiful song, is pretty powerful.
Q: Talk a little bit about the process for arranging for the rights to use a song in an episode. Were there any unique challenges with arranging for the use of “I Shall Be Released (Take 2)”?
Continue reading “Hell on Wheels Q&A – Rick Clark (Music Supervisor)” »
Q: What was it like to join the cast of a show that was entering its fourth season? Did anyone in particular make you feel at home on set?
A: I’ve known Anson [Mount] for about 10 years. He gave me a heads up that it would be a terrific group of people, a terrific writing staff, and a well-organized machine that I was joining. That proved to be the case. It was seamless. I felt welcomed and encouraged.
Q: How does feeling comfortable on set help when acting with your castmates?
A: It’s always nice to like the people you’re acting with. That always helps. I think Anson provides great leadership and makes it clear that no misbehavior or prima donna-like antics will be indulged.
Q: What appealed to you most about the role of John Campbell? Was there anything in particular about the character that stood out to you?
Continue reading “Hell on Wheels Q&A – Jake Weber (John Campbell)” »
Anticipation is rising for the Season 4 finale of Hell on Wheels this Saturday night. Here’s one more thing to look forward to: The finale will feature the song “I Shall Be Released (Take 2),” taken from the brand new album The Basement Tapes Complete, performed by Bob Dylan and The Band and written by Bob Dylan.
The origins of the song are legendary in the annals of rock ’n roll. In the summer of 1967, Bob Dylan ensconced himself in the basement of a small house in West Saugerties, New York along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm. Over the course of several months, the collective, which came to be known as Bob Dylan and The Band, recorded more than a hundred songs, including the future classic, “I Shall Be Released.”
Several of the songs soon surfaced as unofficially-released bootlegs, but the recordings remained commercially unavailable until 1975, when 16 of them appeared on an album named The Basement Tapes. Over the years, the remaining songs from The Basement Tapes sessions haunted and perplexed fans, with the original recordings themselves representing a holy grail for Dylan enthusiasts. On November 4, The Basement Tapes Complete was finally released, bringing together every salvageable recording from the tapes for the first time ever, including “I Shall Be Released (Take 2).”
Keep an ear out for “I Shall Be Released (Take 2)” during the Season 4 finale. Missed it, or want to hear it again? Click here to listen to the song in its entirety. The Basement Tapes Complete is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.
The Season 4 finale of Hell on Wheels, “Further West,” airs this Saturday, November 22 at 9/8c on AMC.
• Entertainment Weekly, speaking with Kasha Kropinski about her pivotal scenes in “Thirteen Steps,” calls Ruth and Cullen’s jailhouse conversations “beautifully written, lit, staged, and acted” and thinks they’re “some of the best scenes of the series.”
• Kasha Kropinski, talking to Cowboys & Indians about Ruth and Cullen’s jailhouse scenes says, “To be engulfed in that darkness is liberating, and I think gives Ruth the courage and freedom to speak her heart and her mind.”
• Anson Mount, interviewed by Key West (Fla.) Citizen, calls Westerns, like Hell on Wheels, “America’s martial arts films.”
Continue reading “EW, Cowboys & Indians Interview Kasha Kropinski” »
Got any questions about Hell on Wheels? Here’s your opportunity to get the inside scoop on the show, straight from Show Runner and Executive Producer John Wirth. Post your queries in the comments section below by Monday, November 24 at 9AM ET. Then check out John’s fan Q&A, which will be posted exclusively on amc.com later that week, to find out if he answered yours.
The Hell on Wheels Season 4 finale airs Saturday, November 22 at 9/8c.
Q: When you began shooting Season 4, how much did you know about Ruth’s storyline in the upcoming season?
A: I knew absolutely nothing at the start of the season. They were very secretive and I couldn’t get any story out of them, so everything was a surprise. As each script came through, I read and performed it, and I experienced the evolution of Ruth this season as it happened. When I first read about Sidney Snow, I thought, oh gosh, here’s a bad guy to stir things up in town. I didn’t know what was to come.
Q: Did you find that being kept in the dark helped your performance?
A: There’s spontaneity when you don’t know what you’re going to be given the next week. If I knew throughout the entire season that Ruth was going to die, I think that would have affected my performance in a negative way. I would have been obsessing over it and worrying, and I think that can dictate your choices as an actor. I think it’s beneficial to have the freedom of ignorance.
Q: Ezra dies in the church fire set by Sidney Snow in Episode 409. Have you gotten close off-screen with Tayden Marks after having had so many scenes together?
Continue reading “Hell on Wheels Q&A – Kasha Kropinski (Ruth)” »
• Hell on Wheels will return for a final Season 5, with seven episodes airing next summer and the final seven in summer 2016, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Crave Online, Deadline, Den of Geek, The New York Times, TV.com, TV Guide, TV Overmind, Variety and TheWrap also report on the renewal.
• John Wirth tells the Calgary Herald that it’s “really nice to be able to know that we’re working toward the end and take the time to consciously approach that.”
• Basket of Kisses applauds Anson Mount’s acting because “he is conveying so much with such sparse elegance.”
Continue reading “Hell Announces Season 5 Renewal; John Wirth Speaks With Calgary Herald” »
Q: You’ve previously acted in various genres, from horror to sci-fi to comedy. What’s unique about being in a Western, and what’s been unique about being on Hell on Wheels, in particular?
A: What’s not unique about Hell on Wheels? One of the things that drew me to this project, beyond just the awesome material and being a fan, was the character and the strength of Maggie Palmer. I feel like the great thing about this show is that every character — despite the fact that they may have challenges and insecurities — is very strong. I think that comes from the need to survive during that era, and I think that’s almost genre-specific to the Western. Every character is so driven towards their own goals, and it makes it interesting to play with.
Q: Maggie is a no-nonsense business woman. Has she taught you anything about your own self?
A: I started playing Maggie just before I turned 40. It’s hard to say if she’s influenced the woman that I continue to become, or vice versa, if the woman I continue to become influences Maggie. I definitely feel much more connected to a woman like her in how I’m grounded. She’s so strong and seemingly unafraid of most things, and I believe that to be how I live my life.
Q: Talk a little bit about the scene in Episode 411, “Bleeding Kansas,” in which Maggie helps Cullen amputate Sidney’s leg. Was it challenging to film such a graphic scene?
Continue reading “Hell on Wheels Q&A – Chelah Horsdal (Maggie Palmer)” »