A Chat With ‘Deadwood’ Actress Robin Weigert About Her Momentous Goodbye To Calamity Jane


Deadwood ran for three seasons, from 2004-2006, and throughout the decade that followed, fans hoped, not-so-patiently, to see the promised wrap-up movie. Well, the request has finally been fulfilled with Deadwood: The Movie, which isn’t the most creatively rendered title but showcases exactly what’s coming: an exquisitely profane reunion among David Milch’s ensemble of beloved characters. One of the most defensively endearing figures, Calamity Jane, figures prominently into the story.

The actress who plays Jane, Robin Weigert, was gracious enough to speak with us at length about the finale movie. She previously stated that the rough-talking, boozy frontierswoman “kind of came to me whole,” and Weigert gamely slid back into the saddle after all these years. Our wide-ranging conversation covers Weigert’s stints on FX’s Sons of Anarchy and HBO’s Big Little Lies, but of course, Jane looms large. The actress told us the one place where she gets recognized as Jane and how it feels to say farewell to her again.

Let’s start with a confession. I often call Calamity Jane my spirit animal.

She might be my spirit animal as well! So we share that in common.

There were many false starts on this movie. Do you remember where you were when you heard that it was finally happening?

There wasn’t a definitive moment for me when I heard it was happening like when it was canceled because that was an extremely memorable phone call that was devastating. In this case, there was this sort of buildup, a sense of “maybe, maybe, hopefully maybe, oh, it’s looking more like, oh, it’s looking really like, well, there’s this one actor who hasn’t signed on, oh, he signed on, okay!” I do remember turning a corner in myself from thinking it was unlikely to thinking it was very likely, once David [Milch] had shown me some pages, and I saw the quality of what he was working on, and that was a while ago. I thought there was no way they won’t do this somehow, there’s no way that everybody won’t say yes to this. I think I saw three or four pages, that’s it, but I thought, “God, everybody’s leaving and breathing again on the page, I can feel them, I can feel it.” And the fact that it felt alive to me suggested that there would somehow be a way. That’s a bit of magical thinking, but that’s the way I feel.

Well, Jane gets the first word in the first scene. How cool was that?

It was very cool, and the first sentence or the first phrase of the film has so much in it, [which I realized] when I sat at what was a table reading that was put together before we actually got to work. And that first line took on a lot of resonance, looking around the table. It has to do with the passage of time, and I remember getting completely waterlogged when I said it the first time out loud, looking around at all the faces of my friends. It was very, very powerful to be together again and sort of wrenching to have it end again so quickly because of the feelings that we all have for each other. There’s a lot of love there.

Do you know what Jane’s been doing for this past decade?

Yes, there’s some lore out there about her. Some of it’s even sexual, so with a slight collapse of time to include this chapter, she will have been working already with Buffalo Bill Cody doing some road shows and performing. She started to have a reputation, and she started to be a bit of a personality, and she’s been trading on that, and probably getting some free drinks out of that, making her way. So there’s a tad, and this is reflected more in the costume, more theatrical physicality about her. Janey Bryant did this wonderful costume with this hat that felt like a cross between Petruchio and Cyrano de Bergerac, so there’s this other aspect to her now. But in my portrayal, I didn’t want to move too far away from the Jane incarnation of the first time. I didn’t want to move into some new zone with her. I wanted there to be a natural maturation process but with the same ingredients intact. So she still has that same combination of bravado and vulnerability. She still has a tenderness at her core.