“Hell on Wheels” premieres on Sundance Channel (Astro Channel 438) sometime this month – but not before our team at Hype speak to the rough and tough Anson Mount, who plays Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon.
In our exclusive 15-minute interview with Anson, he talks role preparation, the experience from working on such an extraordinary set, and his hopes and dreams of coming to visit sunny Malaysia as soon as he can. Yes, visit Malaysia. We’re not kidding!
Let us just say that it’s great to finally be talking to you, Anson. So, “Hell on Wheels”, huh? We have to say that we’re surprised by your role as Cullen Bohannon. What drew to you him?
“Well, I’m from the south in the United States and it’s quite different culturally compared to the rest of the country. It’s hard to find Southern characters in Hollywood that are well written and that are not stereotyped. I thought that the framework of doing a show on the construction of the US transcontinental railway was a fantastic idea. I thought it would be an interesting journey and it has been.”
Having played more modern roles in the past, how did you prepare for your role in this series?
“Everyone asks me that! I read a book by Stephen Ambrose called ‘Nothing Like It in the World’, which is about the transcontinental railway construction. I also watched some Clint Eastwood films and I read up on 19th century etiquette and..that was it. Most of the decisions that you make as an actor, you can’t make until you’re there with the other actors and the director.”
“Hell on Wheels” has been running for two whole seasons now. The experience from working on the set and with the crew must be exciting! Do share.
“We’re shooting the second season right now and we premiere here in North America in August and it’s very exciting. I’m very grateful and I thank God, the universe, or whatever powers that are responsible for me to ride a horse, shoot guns, and get paid for it.”
Finally, what can the audience expect from season two of “Hell on Wheels”? Is Cullen truly a hero or a renegade? Will more of his past be revealed?
“When you’re doing a television show, first of all – and I’ll answer this in two different ways, I think that the most interesting characters are not heroes or villains because most people are the same. And in terms of where the character’s going well, in any television show or drama there’s a first, second, and a third act. Television is the longest second act in history, you know? (laughs) Most of it is a second act! Right now the writers are figuring out how to end second season so we don’t really know where it’s going.”
Do you see yourself in your “Hell on Wheels” character, Cullen Bohannon at all?
“No, not really. I act for the joy of being other people, stepping into others’ shoes. To a degree you gotta be able to identify with your character but for an intelligent actor and for an intelligent performance, I don’t think identification is the most important thing. I think that..understand and creativity are the most important things.”
Alright! Final question. Is there anything that you’d like to say to your Malaysian fans or to the people who watch “Hell on Wheels”?
“(laughs) Actually, I’ve been wanting to get down to Malaysia for quite a while. My ex girlfriend, who is still one of my best friends in the world is Iban and I’ve heard nothing but really, really wonderful things about Malaysia! I really want to visit sometime.”
Aww. Well not, until the day that Anson Mount finally comes to Malaysia for a visit, we’ll just have to settle with “Hell on Wheels” every Saturday at 8pm on Sundance Channel (Astro Channel 438) starting 21st July 2012 (Saturday).