Anson Mount, who plays Cullen Bohannon on Hell on Wheels, talks about his character’s coming confrontation with the Swede and what he’ll miss most about the show.
Q: What were you most looking forward to when you started filming the final episodes of Hell on Wheels?
A: Really just being out there and enjoying the rest of the time with my colleagues. It felt a little bit like the last semester of senior year.
Q: How would you say Cullen Bohannon has evolved over the course of the series? How does that factor into his actions now?
A: I think the journey of the lead character is really the journey of the show and vice versa. They don’t necessarily follow the same arc, but in some ways, they reflect one another. So, much like the nation was a gaping wound at the end of the Civil War, Cullen himself was going through what we would today call PTSD. The nation was reunified through the connecting of the East and West through these train tracks – which conveniently looked very much like a suture – and this entire process is Cullen’s healing process. It began as an outlet for his ambition, and his sense of competition and battle. He needed a battle and it became a healing process.
Q: How much has your knowledge of American history improved after working on this show?
A: I knew that my understanding of [the Reconstruction era] was something I needed to brush up on. In American History classes, we tend to skip from one glorious war to the next. So, I needed to go in and look at that and it got me interested in pre-Civil War history as well.
Q: This final season promises a decisive confrontation between Cullen and the Swede. Are you excited for viewers to witness that?
A: Absolutely. I think the Cullen-Swede antagonism has been one of the driving forces of the show, and it’s certainly one of the things that the audience really enjoys. Getting to go on that journey with Christopher Heyerdahl has been one of the highlights for me.
Q: What do you hope Cullen’s legacy will be? Are you sad to see Cullen’s journey come to a close?
A: His legacy – I think I’ll leave that up to the critics. [LAUGHS] Will I miss it? Yeah, I’ll miss it a lot. I’ve never gotten to know a character this well and I greatly enjoyed it. I’ll miss getting paid to ride a horse. That’s what I’ll miss!
Q: If you had been in the town of Hell on Wheels in real life, do you think you would have survived?
A: Oh, no. I would have buckled one day into it. That was not a place for the weak of heart.
Q: What lessons have you learned working on Hell on Wheels?
A: When you go to acting school and you become an actor, nobody tells you that there will come a day when people look to you as a leader. They don’t tell you that, and there’s no way to prepare for it. If you’re not ready for it, it could make you or break you – both career-wise and personally. I’ve learned the virtue of leading by example, which is fueled by the virtue of patience.
The final episodes of Hell on Wheels begin Saturday, June 11 at 9/8c on AMC. Click here to get a look at the final episodes with the cast and creators.
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