‘Sons of Anarchy’ casts Ray McKinnon, continuing the ‘Deadwood’/FX link

Senior Television Writer
06.07.11 26 Comments

While in the course of my travels here in LA this week, I came across a bit of casting news that will be of interest to both “Sons of Anarchy” fans and the people who are following my “Deadwood” season 1 reviews this summer: Ray McKinnon, who played Reverend Smith on “Deadwood,” has signed on for a season-long arc on “Sons” as a prosecutor – described as “an independent thinker and somewhat odd” – who targets the Sons.

As I mentioned when explaining why I chose “Deadwood” as my summer DVD rewind, there seems to be a land war between “Sons” and “Justified” over which FX drama can hire the most “Deadwood” alums. McKinnon already guest-starred on “Justified”(*) in season 1 as a hitman targeting Raylan Givens. While I believe he’s the only “Deadwood” alum to double-dip both the FX shows, plenty have popped up on one or both.

(*) Though in that case, the connection may have been as much about Walton Goggins – who’s close friends with McKinnon and produced the Oscar-winning short film “The Accountant” with him – as about “Deadwood.”

Most obviously, Timothy Olyphant was one of the leads on “Deadwood” and is the star of “Justified,” and Dayton Callie played flustered “Deadwood” peacemaker Charlie Utter and is now easily-flustered Charming police chief Wayne Unser. But beyond those two regular castmembers, here are some (but not all) of the familiar “Deadwood” faces to have guested on one show or the other:

(And “Deadwood” rewind newbies might not want to read past the jump, since I’ll be talking about some characters and events from well past the point I’m at in the project now.)

On “Justified”:

• Jim Beaver, who played independent prospector Ellsworth, popped up on this season as the security guard at the mine where Boyd Crowder briefly worked.

• Brent Sexton, who was would-be Deadwood fireman Harry Manning, played the crooked sheriff of Harlan County.

• W. Earl Brown, aka Al Swearengen’s right-hand man Dan Dority, played the hostage-taking convict whom Raylan talked down with a bucket of fried chicken.

• Sean Bridgers, aka Dan’s own sidekick Johnny, had a vendetta against Stephen Root’s flamboyant judge.

• Peter Jason (aka Con Stapleton, who briefly served as Deadwood’s first sheriff) was a Madoff-esque money manager with a collection of Hitler paintings in an early season 1 episode.

On “Sons of Anarchy”:

• Titus Welliver (bearded Swearengen associate Silas Adams) played the club’s Irish arch-nemesis Jimmy O.

• Paula Malcomson (Al’s favorite whore Trixie) was Gemma’s counterpart with the club’s Belfast charter, as well as the mother of Jax’s half-sister.

• Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane) has popped up a few times as one of the club’s defense attorneys.

• Cleo King (George Hearst’s cook Aunt Lou) plays Abel’s babysitter Neeta.

Again, there are others, often in smaller roles on one series or the other (Cameron Hayes on “Sons” was played by Jamie McShane, who was the man Wild Bill and Seth gunned down at the end of the “Deadwood” pilot), and it’s clear that both Graham Yost on “Justified” and Kurt Sutter on “Sons” have an abiding affection for “Deadwood” and its actors.

I still say that at some point Yost and Sutter need to have some kind of contest of either strength or skill to determine who gets to hire Ian McShane to play a seasonal big bad.

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