Anson Mount saddles up to play former Confederate soldier on ‘Hell on Wheels’ [Video]

AMC has had an impressive track record at the Emmys in recent years. “Mad Men” is the four-time reigning Best Drama Series champ. “Breaking Bad” has won three lead-acting trophies for star Bryan Cranston. And last year “The Killing” earned six nominations.

Will the network’s latest drama, the gritty western “Hell on Wheels,” follow suit? “I’ve learned to just keep my head down and do my work,” says star Anson Mount about the show’s Emmy prospects. “In terms of nominations … I choose not to think about stuff like that. It takes up too many brain cells.”

Mount plays Cullen Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier enlisted in the construction of the transcontinental railroad following the Civil War. As he oversees the massive rail project, he also secretly hunts the Union soldiers who murdered his wife and son during the war. “I think it was really brave and more interesting for them to consider the character as a former Confederate. And being from the South I found that there’s a lot to delve into,” says the Tennessee-born actor of his morally ambiguous character. Despite the darkness of the role, he avoids taking his craft too seriously: “Acting doesn’t feel like it is or should be an intense process.”

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“Then the other thing of course is being paid to ride a horse every day … I was one of those kids who grew up playing ‘Cowboys and Indians’ in my backyard with all my friends,” he adds. But despite the thrill of living out his childhood fantasy, he admits production of the series was physically strenuous. “There are times when I come home beat to s—,” Mount explains with a laugh. “After the first week of shooting there was a ring of dirt around the inside of my bathtub … Nobody ever said making a western was a clean affair.”

The second season of “Hell on Wheels” begins filming April 24, picking up the story “a few months after where season one ended,” says Mount. A premiere date has yet to be announced.

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