HBO’s ‘Deadwood’ movie begins production, will finally give series an ending

Al Swearengen, Seth Bullock, and the rest of the colorful cast of cursing, gold-hoarding, trigger-fingered characters of HBO’s Deadwood are headed back to the screen.

Production has officially begun on the long-awaited movie based on HBO’s award-winning series that followed the residents of Deadwood, South Dakota, as it grew from a simple camp in the 1870s to a full-fledged town and eventually part of the annexed Dakota Territory. The film will feature a script penned by David Milch, the show’s creator, producer, and lead writer, and picks up 10 years after the events of the third season.

According to the official synopsis for the film, the Deadwood movie will bring the cast of characters together to celebrate the statehood of South Dakota — an event that loomed on the horizon in the show’s third and final season.

“Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought,” reads HBO’s description of the film.

Returning cast members for the Deadwood movie include Ian McShane as Al Swearengen, a role that earned him a Golden Globe Award for his performance as the foul-mouthed owner of the local saloon and brothel. Also returning is Timothy Olyphant as Seth Bullock, Molly Parker as Alma Ellsworth, Paula Malcomson as Trixie, John Hawkes as Sol Star, Anna Gunn as Martha Bullock, Dayton Callie as Charlie Utter, Brad Dourif as Doc Cochran, Robin Weigert as “Calamity” Jane Canary, William Sanderson as E.B. Farnum, Kim Dickens as Joanie Stubbs, and Gerald McRaney as George Hearst.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest television dramas of all time, Deadwood ran for three seasons from 2004 to 2006 and was nominated for 28 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning eight of them. The series blended historical characters of the era with fictional elements, often using diaries, newspapers, and reports from that time period to guide the show’s narrative. The central theme of the show was an exploration of how order grows from chaos in society, using the famous (or perhaps infamous) lawless community as a setting for the saga.

The series was canceled after its third season due to the rising cost of production on the period drama and its large ensemble cast’s salaries. HBO initially entertained the idea of a shortened fourth season, but Milch was unwilling to compress his plans for the series’ final season at that point. Subsequent plans for a movie that would wrap up the series popped up over the last decade, but none of the projects gained any traction until talks resumed in 2015. The script was finished in 2017 and production has begun on the Deadwood movie.

The movie is expected to premiere on HBO in spring 2019.

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