Deadwood is an American western television series created, produced, and largely written by David Milch, that aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004 to August 27, 2006, spanning 36 episodes and three seasons. The series, set in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, before and after the area’s annexation by the Dakota Territory, charts Deadwood’s growth from camp to town, incorporating themes ranging from the formation of communities to western capitalism.
1. Most of the characters (Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen, Sol Star, Reverend Smith, the Metz family, et. al., in addition to the more famous Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, and Jack McCall), have real-life counterparts.
2. The word “fuck” and its derivatives are used 2,980 times throughout the series.
3. The series takes place from 1876 to 1877.
4. Garret Dillahunt pursued the role of Seth Bullock but Timothy Olyphant was already cast. The only role that was available at the time was of Doc Cochran so Dillahunt auditioned for that. He played the recurring role of Jack McCall in season 1. Dillahunt was then considered for the role of George Hearst in season 2 but it was decided that Hearst would not appear on screen until the season finale. Dillahunt played the recurring role of Hearst’s employee, Francis Wolcott.
5. A feature film based on the series has been rumored for many years, but the cast has cited the difficulties of coordinating the schedules of everybody involved as a main obstacle. In 2016, HBO head Mike Lombardo said David Milch had pitched a general script and that the network is fully committed to the movie.
6. George Hearst was the father of William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaperman on whom Citizen Kane (Ο πολίτης Κέιν (1941)) was based, and the great-grandfather of Patricia Hearst. When Hearst tells Merrick that he will start his own newspaper in Deadwood to tell lies for his side, it is a reference to the fact that W. R. Hearst is largely credited with the creation of the concept of “yellow journalism” and the use of his own newspapers to shape and even create political and social opinion and actual events. The most famous example of this was what many historians characterize as W. R. Hearst’s whole cloth creation of the Spanish-American War through his newspapers’ inflammatory and lucrative headlines.
7. For a long time there was a bar called Bullock’s Tavern in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, which was originally owned by Seth Bullock’s parents and was also the place he was born.
8. Until the end of Season Two, the character of Ellsworth did not have a first name. When it was decided to give him a first name, the actor portraying the role, Jim Beaver, requested that he be given the first name Whitney, after Whitney Ellsworth, producer of Οι περιπέτειες του Σούπερμαν (1952), whom Beaver knew from his research for a book on the life of “Superman” star George Reeves.
9. HBO offered the chance to David Milch to wrap the series in a shorter four season, but he declined to do it on those conditions. However, when Chris Albrecht was asked about it, he said that they also told Milch that HBO would give him a full 12-episode season if it was what he needed to wrap the show. Milch told them he would think about it over a weekend, but the news about the show possibly being cancelled reached the press to such a speed that that conversation never happened and Milch just move on to develop John from Cincinnati.
10. Fifteen members of the cast of Deadwood (2004) also starred in Sons of Anarchy (2008). The list includes Tony Swift (Prospector/Biker), Tim DeZarn (Townsman/Nate Meineke), Kevin P. Kearns (Pasco/Luke), Dan Hildebrand (Shaughnessy/Tim Driscoll/Sean Casey) , Julie Ariola (Countess/Mary Winston ), Cleo King (Aunt Lou Marchbanks/Neeta), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter/Chief Wayne Unser), Paula Malcomson (Trixie/Maureen Ashby), Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane/Ally Lowen), Titus Welliver (Silas Adams/Jimmy O’Phelan), Jamie McShane (Ned Mason/Cameron Hayes), Ray McKinnon (Reverend H.W. Smith/Lincoln Potter), Jim Cody Williams (Terrence/Uncle Vinky), Kim Dickens (Joanie Stubbs/Colette Jane) and Keone Young (Mr. Wu/Bohai Lin)
11. Powers Boothe was originally cast as Al Swearengen. But Boothe fell ill before the pilot was to start filming. Boothe was replaced by Ian McShane and, then, was given the supporting role of Cy Tolliver.
12. According to a 2004 Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles interview with show creator David Milch, when John Hawkes first met Milch to audition for the role of Sol Star, Hawkes told Milch that he was not actually Jewish (unlike both the real-life Star and the “Deadwood” character). Milch’s response was to ask Hawkes, “Have you ever felt shame or sadness or ostracized?” When Hawkes responded, “Every day,” Milch told him, “Then you’re Jewish.”
13. Despite appearing in 32 out of 36 episodes, Jeffrey Jones (Merrick) was listed as a guest star in the first season. Similarly, Gerald McRaney (George Hurst) received a “special guest star” credit in Season 3, even though he appeared in all 12 episodes of that season.
14. The role of Al Swearengen was originally written for Ed O’Neill. O’Neill screen tested for the role but HBO executives did not want to cast him because of his fame as Al Bundy from Παντρεμένοι Με Παιδιά (1987).
15. At one point, David Fincher was set to direct the pilot.
16. The show’s cancellation was a shock to the cast. During the third season, lead actors Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane successfully renegotiated their contracts for higher pay, and HBO retroactively paid them the increased rate for the nine episodes of the season already shot. The show was canceled a few weeks later.
17. Certain actors that were eventually cast in the series initially auditioned for different roles. Paula Malcomson (Trixie) initially auditioned to play Alma Garrett and W. Earl Brown (Dan Dority) pursued the role of Jack McCall.
18. The real Seth Bullock was born in a town called Amherstburg in Ontario, Canada.
19. Two actors in this series have daughters who played minor roles (as prostitutes). Parisse Boothe, the daughter of Powers Boothe, plays Tess, in 5 episodes, and Fiona Dourif, the daughter of Brad Dourif, appears in 3 episodes as the Chez Ami Whore.
20. Wild Bill Hickok was portrayed as an older man in the series when in fact he was only 39 years of age when he died.
21. Doc Cochran’s first name is Amos.
22. Ellsworth is also the name of the Air Force Base located near Deadwood, South Dakota.