Al Swearingen is a nasty asshole. He is the antagonist/some time quasi protagonist of HBO’s Deadwood. He is played masterfully by Ian McShane. I don’t care if Mr. McShane wins an Oscar one day, unless it is for playing Al Swearingen for the movie version of Deadwood it will remain unrecognized by me.
The show is a fictionalized account of the boom town of Deadwood South Dakota in the 1870s. I have been a fan of Westerns my whole life. My Grandmother instilled a deep respect for John Wayne and through the years movies like Silverado and Tombstone. Of course I ate up Young Guns and Young Guns II, proof positive that not all teenagers may be stupid but I was.
My interest in the real story of the Wild West was stoked by my Uncle Kel. He had the Time/Life book series and I would eat it up every time I visited Connecticut. It was almost as mandatory as games of Risk.
Deadwood offered a real feel western experience replete with tons of swearing. If you played a drinking game watching Deadwood and your word was cocksucker you may be inebriated after one scene with Swearingen, especially if Mr. Woo is involved. The language of Deadwood is almost Shakespearean, just with more swearing. Nobody exhibits this better and with more weight than Swearingen.
Timothy Olyphant plays a former sheriff. Seth Bullock, who strikes out for Deadwood in hopes of gold and escaping the responsibilities of being an officer of the law. My wife refers to him as crazy eyes. It is true- he has a mean bat shit crazy look. He is perfect for the part, as is John Hawkes as his business partner Sol Star.
Two other characters challenge Al as favorites from this ensemble cast- Brad Dourif as Doc Cochran and Robin Weigert as Calamity Jane. Both characters have such humanity to them and the actors do a phenomenal job of conveying emotion and substance of the roles.
The show ended earlier than most fans wanted, including myself. I felt that the town of Deadwood had some more tale in it. I am glad it ended earlier instead of overstaying its welcome though. Too many shows had the initial story to contend for my favorite list only to fall off with disappointing endings (The Sopranos) or extra seasons that you just wish didn’t see the light of day (Rosanne).
See, not everything about John From Cincinnati was bad?