Today HBO’s acclaimed series “Deadwood” comes at long last to an end with a two-hour film reuniting its colorful characters one last time. At the time of its premiere 14 years ago, many of its leads were hard-working character actors hoping for a breakout role, while others were longtime performers looking for a comeback. Creator and showrunner David Milch gave each of them unforgettable calling cards that exploded and expanded their careers, opening doors on television shows and movies alike. To commemorate the series’ overdue conclusion, Moviefone scoured the filmographies of the show’s incredible cast for some of the incredible work they did before, during and especially after appearing on one of the most groundbreaking, mesmerizing television shows ever.
It’s hard to believe that the would-be star of “Deadwood” went 13 years (from 1987 to 2000) without a film credit given his mesmerizing screen presence, but McShane’s comeback feels especially appropriate: in Jonathan Glazer’s “Sexy Beast,” he plays a stoic mob boss who does and says almost nothing, and still manages to be absolutely terrifying. He’d later provide echoes of both that role and his “Deadwood” turn as Continental manager Winston in the action-packed “John Wick” franchise.
When “Deadwood” was cancelled after its third season, Olyphant moved on to a familiar, equally memorable challenge with the acclaimed television series “Justified,” where he again played a rigid lawman. But immediately before starting on Milch’s show, he stole Luke Greenfield’s “Risky Business” riff “The Girl Next Door” as a calculating, charismatic pimp who throws a wrench into the plans of an overachieving high school senior.
Molly Parker - “The Center of the World” (2001)
Molly Parker has, for most of her career, been a bit of an indie darling, so it comes as no surprise that years before joining Milch’s show, she already transfixed audiences in Wayne Wang’s idiosyncratic drama about a Vegas stripper who confounds a dot-com millionaire who hires her to spend the weekend with him.
Like many of the show’s stars, Malcolmson went on to appear in a number of high profile television series, including “Ray Donovan,” where she has a starring role opposite Liev Schreiber. But prior to that, she signed on for a choice gig as Katniss Everdeen’s troubled mother in the “Hunger Games” franchise.
Few actors even on this show have the versatility of the great John Hawkes, who went on to play a terrifying meth addict opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone,” and followed up that performance with another one as a charismatic, mysterious cult leader in Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
Callie has long been one of Milch’s repertory players, popping up over and over again in his various television projects. But in Darren Lynn Bousman and Chris Monfette’s “Abattoir,” he plays the mysterious caretaker of a house built out of rooms where terrible things happened, and he effortlessly conveys the menace and gravitas of that responsibility.
Dourif’s Doc Cochran was often the heart of Milch’s series, which may come as a surprise to fans of his earlier work, which includes his breakthrough turn as a delicate mental patient opposite Jack Nicholson in Milos Forman’s 1975 Oscar winner, as well as the voice of iconic movie monster Chucky in the “Child’s Play” films.
Weigert’s Calamity Jane stole many scenes -- and hearts -- over the series’ three seasons, and she has quietly done the same in a number of acclaimed movies, disappearing into roles in Steven Soderbergh’s exercise in period filmmaking “The Good German,” Charlie Kaufman’s melancholy mind-bender “Synecdoche” before breaking out again in the lesbian drama “Concussion.”
As Al Swearengen’s Number Two, Dan, Brown was forced to tackle some tough challenges, but he’d already proven himself more than capable in a variety of movie and TV roles, perhaps most notably playing Warren, the disabled brother of Cameron Diaz’ Mary in the Farrelly brothers’ raunchy but as always surprisingly sweet 1998 comedy.
More than two decades before playing the Grand Hotel’s oily, scheming proprietor E.B. Farnum, Sanderson became known to moviegoers as the tender, troubled inventor J.F. Sebastian in Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking sci-fi classic, and then pulled a 180 in more than 90 episodes of the sitcom “Newhart” playing Larry, the dimwitted brother to two Darryls.
Kim Dickens is one of Hollywood’s most reliable character actors, appearing in films and television roles with equal ease and skill. For David Fincher, she played a doubtful detective searching for clues in the disappearance of Nick Dunne’s wife Amy before winning acclaim in not one but two popular television series, “House of Cards” and “Fear the Walking Dead.”
Ricky Jay’s pedigree as one of David Mamet’s regular played made him ideal for the role of a smart-talking card sharp and hustler in “Deadwood,” but he had already convincingly played a con artist in Mamet’s breakthrough film “House of Games,” and delivered a decidedly more avuncular performance as Jack Horner’s unflappable cinematographer in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ode to the 1970s porn industry “Boogie Nights.”
Few actors got a bigger bounce from “Deadwood” than Dillahunt, who was so good that Milch killed him off and then brought him back in another role. Just a year after the show ended he delivered memorable turns for both the Coen brothers and Andrew Dominik in two more Western-themed projects, then transitioned into a sitcom star with “Raising Hope” before delivering a powerful supporting performance as a dedicated but feckless driver in Steve McQueen’s feminist crime film “Widows.”