Thanks to his lead role as the rugged Cullen Bohannon on AMC's hit Western series Hell On Wheels, audiences are discovering what many have quietly known for a long time -- actor Anson Mount is the real deal. Hailing from the small Tennessee town of White Bluff, Mount isn't just a terrific actor, he also teaches the craft of acting at Columbia University while authoring his first book about it. A well rounded and soulful individual, he was a great pleasure to talk to.
Since its series premiere, I've been glued to Hell On Wheels, AMC's most underrated drama series. Each episode is a cinematic treat, and should be garnering Emmy love much like the network's other hits. Season Three promises to be the best one yet, and the two hour premiere airs August 10th.
A Look at Season Three's Hell On Wheels:
In doing my morning rounds of research for my afternoon chat with Anson, I was surprised and excited to find an online groundswell of support for him to take on the role of Batman in the next blockbuster film. So I began my questions there.
Your name has been discussed on the Internet as someone who could make a good Batman. It's just flattering to be considered as someone who can even begin to approach this role. I read comics growing up and Batman was one of my favorites. I think Zack Snyder is a great filmmaker.
I've noticed Cullen Bohannon change from the start of Hell On Wheels to where he is now. Well first of all, thank you for noticing. Second of all, I see Cullen as someone battling addiction, and the addiction is fighting. He lost everything at the end of last season after he made the decision to save the bridge instead of Lily Bell. When you hit the bottom of addiction there are two ways to go -- you either die or you figure out a way to climb out of it. And that requires a certain level of maturity in the sense he would stop and consider what is going on around him and the repercussions of his actions a little bit more.
Photo courtesy of AMC
This series is obviously a lot of work, but it has to be an incredibly fun job. Hell On Wheels is definitely the best job I've ever had. My favorite film performance is Cook County. My favorite overall movie I've done is Tully, but for just overall job everyday, Hell On Wheels is my favorite. I mean I get paid to ride a horse! And to be out in the sunshine. I am forever spoiled. (laughs)
When do you find the time to be a Professor of Acting at Columbia University? I go back routinely and teach about ten classes in the winter depending on my schedule and their schedule. Teaching is really good for my soul. I love seeing the light bulb go on with my students, and it keeps me honest. Every time I teach, it reminds me of how far I've come.
I heard you're writing your first book -- what can you tell us about it? I just finished the first draft of a book about the acting business. I owe a second draft, and then it's getting published. Many of the acting books I see are written by people who frankly don't work that much or by casting directors. Basically I want to get actor's heads on straight and dispel the myths that are out there.
Your father (Anson Adams Mount) was a famous writer for Playboy. Did he have an influence on you as a writer? My father passed away when I was thirteen so unfortunately he died right before I got to know him as an individual, but he did mention that he saw that I was going to be an actor. When I had a school play, he would help me run lines. My parents didn't just say "you can do anything you want to do" -- they were very smart in attaching the clause at the end of that sentence "If you work for it." My father taught me by example. He grew up a poor child in rural Tennessee during the Depression and became an executive for one of the biggest magazines in the country and a very respected journalist -- doing exactly what he wanted to do. He taught me "know exactly what it is you want to do. Figure out what the bullseye is, and the bullseye should be whatever it is you were willing to do for free. Work your ass off at it and someone will eventually be paying you."
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