A Brief History Of Starts And Stops For The ‘Deadwood’ Movie’s Decade-Long Gestation


HBO’s Deadwood delivered three seasons full of gloriously profane violence — not to mention the launch of Timothy Olyphant’s reputation as a hat-wearing force with which to be reckoned — before the cable channel confirmed in May 2006 that the cast’s options would not be picked up for another round. Since that time, fans of the show have been periodically teased into oblivion with tidbits dropped by producers and cast members, who all hinted that … maybe … a movie was finally on the horizon?

Yes, the thought of a two-hour wrap-up of various storylines, or hell, even a two-hour, unbroken shot of Ian McShane’s Al Swearingen cursing (about whatever the hell suits his fancy) would be lovely. Yet this c*cktease (sorry, it’s the term that Swearingen would have preferred) has gone on far too long. Obviously, the cast has scattered far and wide, many of them finding new crashing pads on FX or, in the case of John Hawkes, scaring the bejesus out of audiences in various indie films. Would it even be possible to get the gang back together, even if a movie was actually greenlit?

Well, promises, suggestions, and hints are still dropping (including the latest from Robin Weigert, who played Calamity Jane), so let’s sort them out.

June 2006: Deadwood creator David Milch and HBO hash out an agreement to produce the wrap-up TV movie rather than pursue an abbreviated fourth season. At the time, Milch was satisfied that the show could do proper justice to finishing the narrative and doing his characters justice.

June 2007: HBO Co-President Richard Plepler admitted that the project wasn’t coming together as hoped, and he placed the chances of the TV movie coming to fruition at “50-50.”

October 2007: Ian McShane tossed cold water on the idea of the TV movie by indicating that the show’s sets would soon be dismantled, although this didn’t actually happen until 2010.

March 2009: McShane pointedly uttered these words to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: “Deadwood is dead.”

March 2012: In an interview with Vulture, Milch admitted that he wasn’t optimistic about giving Deadwood its final due. “No, I don’t think so,” he said regarding whether the TV movies would be produced. “We got really close about a year ago. Never say never, but it doesn’t look that way.”