The road back to Deadwood certainly wasn’t an easy one. HBO’s upcoming movie followed over a decade of false starts for a feature-length follow-up to the Timothy Olyphant/Ian McShane-starring, late 1880s-set drama. Although McShane never lost the faith, everyone else thought would never happen, and his onscreen foe has been out there dropping grateful A-bombs to that effect. Now series creator David Milch, 74, has given an interview that makes the gang’s return even more bittersweet. While speaking with Vulture, the writer and producer has revealed that he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Milch discusses the series of roadblocks that faced the production before it even began, and it’s miraculous that he’s been able to bring the project to fruition now. About five years ago, his friends and relatives made him aware of his waning memory and shorter fuse. With his trademark caustic wit still intact, Milch acknowledges how “I became more and more of an acquired taste.” Professionally, he noticed significant difficulties:
The writing process became harder too. There was, he says, “a generalized incertitude and a growing incapacity.” About a year ago, Milch got up the nerve to have a brain scan. The news was not good.
“As best I understand it, which is minimally, I have a deterioration in the organization of my brain,” he says. “And it’s progressive. And in some ways discouraging. In more than some ways — in every way I can think of.”
To get through this film (and, presumably, while helping Nick Pizzolatto craft True Detective season three), Milch says that he leaned heavily upon the expertise of director Daniel Minahan and co-executive producer Regina Corrado. The rest of Vulture’s profile of Milch paints a fascinating picture of his struggles to bring this project to life amid other, often unseen, difficulties. Those include his gambling addiction, which reportedly led him into financial ruin and left him many millions of dollars in debt. Throughout his career, however, he’s continued to scoop up awards for his TV writing with much of the accolades sourcing back to his NYPD Blue tenure. You can read the full piece here.
HBO’s Deadwood: The Movie will debut on May 31.