Deadwood may not be dead after all. The acclaimed Western show went off the air in 2006, bringing its truncated three-year run to an end, and ever since then there has been wide speculation that the series could be revived and properly finished off with a one-off movie. Recently it was reported that series creator David Milch had delivered a script for a Deadwood movie to HBO, and at least one actor who starred on the original series read the script and gave it his seal of approval.
No Deadwood movie would be possible without Ian McShane reprising the role of Al Swearengen, the eternally conniving and sometimes homicidal tavern proprietor. Though McShane is currently heavily involved in the Starz series American Gods, recent reports indicated that his contract was structured in such a way that if a Deadwood movie materialized, he would be available.
In an interview with Variety, McShane gave a status update on both a possible Deadwood movie and his own potential involvement in same:
There are signs that HBO are quite keen to make it. They’ve got the script. It’s when they’ll make an offer and when we can fit it in. We probably won’t start “American Gods” until probably the end of the year or early next year, so there’s a window when we can do “Deadwood,” but they need to get everybody together. I mean all the characters that David [Milch] wants to put in the show. I’m probably going to have breakfast with him later this week. But no, they’re keen to do it, and I’m sure it would seem not only artistically a perfect time to do it but also commercially because there’s always been a revised interested in “Deadwood.” It went off the air far too soon for all the reasons you say, but that’s a long time ago. It seems like a two hour film would be a nice thing for all the people that want to see it and all of us who were deprived of the gig too early.
Reports about McShane's American Gods contract said there would be no issue about him going over to HBO to do a Deadwood movie, so long as there were no conflicts in terms of shooting schedules. McShane in his comments above makes it clear that, with American Gods season 2 getting ready to go before cameras in late 2017 or early 2018, there is a window open for him to be in a Deadwood movie but that window will not be open for long.
The question now is whether HBO and Milch can bring everything together on a schedule that works for McShane and the other key actors who would need to be involved in a Deadwood movie. The fact that McShane and Milch will soon be having breakfast together could be an indication that things are moving forward quickly.
Not only is HBO keen to make a Deadwood movie happen, but fans of the late lamented show are as well. No conversation about the development of today's concept of prestige television would be complete without a discussion of Deadwood and its profane, poetic, complex, dramatic and immensely detailed take on the American West.