Tonight’s Hell on Wheels marked a few pivotal turning points in the life of Cullen Bohannon. I sat down with Anson Mount last week at ATX in Austin, and he talked about who Bohannon is in the remaining episodes of the series.
Putting Bohannon on a cane in the aftermath of his confrontation with the Swede was something Mount embraced, for himself and the character. “I think the writers’ choice of giving Bohannon an injury was a quite a stroke of genius and a very good device,” he says. “Seven episodes is not a lot of time to close out what we wanted to do.”
“To us and to me, it was very, very, very important to me to take the heroism out of heroes and the curling mustaches out of villains. It’s about grounding a character in truth through specificity. There’s nothing specific about a big fat block of heroes or villains. One of the pieces of specificity I see glossed over in TV is the specificity of age.”
“Bohannon has been…at this very difficult physical endeavor for six years, and he’s not a young man anymore. In order for him to let go of the fight and the battle, and the addiction to competition and his own ambition, [he has] to be hit with the hard realities of age.”
“It’s a bit of a cheat but it feeds into the same place. It helps me practically. But there’s other practicalities that you don’t think of, like getting on and off a horse, or ‘how am I going to do a gun battle with a cane?’ It ended up sweetening the deal.”
Mount is proud of the final seven, and particularly fond of the scene between Bohannon and Brigham Young (Gregg Henry) in “Return to the Garden.”Â “I think these are seven of our best. They were all a joy to work on.”
“[In the scene where Bohannon asks Young]Â to take back Naomi and Issac, I only kind of figured it out that morning by talking with Gregg Henry…,” he shares. “It would be easy to play that scene [as] Bohannon wins, but the subtext of that conversation is that I do what get I want but not in that way that I think I want.”
“I was so happy with how that scene turned out. I realized that as he is listening to me…I’d probably fucked him over the most of anyone in the show, and he flays me open and sees that I don’t have what it wakes to be a husband, so they can stay. It’s a fatherly piece of advice that [Bohannon is] going to have to stop [living this way]. He sees me. It was an amazing scene to discover with him.”
As for that closing scene with Bohannon and Mei, Mount says she was the only oneÂ Bohannon could be with at that point in his life. “There’s no mistaking that the one woman he can open up to is completely alien [in the 19th century],” he points out. “What that moment is about is this subconscious belief that he will not be accepted, that he’s a monster [but she does accept him].”
Hell on Wheels airs at 9/8c Saturdays on AMC.
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