Exclusive Interview: Anson Mount Talks Hell On Wheels Season 3

Hell On Wheels Big Bad Wolf;Eminent Domain Season 3 episode 1 & 2 (17)

How do you get over loss and get redemption? That is a question that Season 3 of Hell on Wheels will try to tackle through Cullen Bohannon.

TV Equals had the immense pleasure to chat with the talented Anson Mount who portrays Cullen in the series about what is coming up for the character this season, some new faces we might be seeing, the differences between this new season and previous ones and more.

Find out what he had to say below and don’t miss the 2-hour Hell On Wheels Season 3 premiere on Saturday August 10, 2013 at 9:00pm on AMC.

Congratulations on season three. It sounds like you guys are going in a new direction.

Anson Mount: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that this is going to be our best season.

How would you describe Cullen’s journey in season three?

Anson Mount: The touchstone word for me this season has been maturation because the first two seasons, I felt like I was portraying someone with an addiction, but an addiction unlike most. An addiction unlike anything I think we’ve seen portrayed in television. He has an addiction to violence as a way of coping with post traumatic stress disorder, and when you hit the rock bottom with any addiction, as he did at the end of season two, there are two ways to go. Death, or you figure out how to begin climbing out of it. That determines a certain kind of self-awareness and maturation that we’ve not seen in the character before. So that’s been overall the journey this year, self-awareness and the process of gaining that.

Hell On Wheels Big Bad Wolf;Eminent Domain Season 3 episode 1 & 2 (21)

People were upset about Lily dying last season. How is that going to affect Cullen this season?

Anson Mount: Well, he’s now lost his heart twice by making the same mistake twice, which was to pursue his ambition rather than cling to what he has. You get smacked once by God, you might think that it’s just bad luck. You get smacked twice for the same reason and then you finally start to listen. So I don’t think he quite has enough self-awareness to understand his own hubris and his own ambition that is responsible for his situation, but he is definitely starting to think twice about things. At the same time, when you’ve had your heart broken twice over, I think what a lot of men do in the face of tragedy is they just focus on work. Cullen’s focus is on a project, and he doesn’t realize this yet, but he focuses on a project that’s a placebo for battle. Even though he’s starting to realize that his equation between battle and the construction of the railroad is not a perfect one, he’s still clinging to it as a way…it’s a coping mechanism.

Can you say anything about the Swede’s possible return?

Anson Mount: Only that you have to be very careful in doing that. When you’ve got two characters who are out for each other to that degree, you introduce that conflict too early, it becomes a cat and mouse game for an entire season. You can’t play that. It would just become repetitive. So the writers have been very, very smart about teasing out the Swede’s own journey, and you will see him in season three. But he and Cullen don’t have a face off until very late in the season.

There are some new characters this season as well. Can you talk about how they’ll affect Cullen?

Anson Mount: Yeah, they brought in Jennifer Ferrin to play Louise Ellison. I think it’s a very smart addition to the character list because if you’re going to have a show that deals a lot with the collusion between government and big business, you really have to have a voice of the press somewhere in there. She plays a reporter for ‘The New York Tribune,’ and the character I think is very well used and Jennifer is really playing the hell out of it.

What was different this season for you compared to working on season one and two?

Anson Mount: My responsibilities have increased to such a degree that I’m not getting to do as much homework as I like. I do a lot of homework as an actor, and I’ve had to start relying more on my gut instincts everyday, which I think has actually been a good thing for me as an actor. It’s taught me to trust myself a little more, but with that said, there’s an argument to be made that I couldn’t have done that without two seasons of the character behind me already. I think that’s also the reason…I like my work more this season than I have in the previous two seasons. That’s all I have to say.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a part of ‘Hell on Wheels’?

Anson Mount: Goodness. This is the first multi-season TV show I’ve been involved with. The first, I guess we can go ahead and say it, the first somewhat successful TV show I’ve been involved with, and I don’t think I anticipated the amount of demand for my attention in as many directions so much of the time by so many people. It’s been an exercise in patience and my own work ethic, but I’m still loving it.

If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at the beginning of the ‘Hell on Wheels’ journey, what would you tell yourself?

Anson Mount: Listen more.

If you could guest star on any other show, which one would you like guest star on?

Anson Mount: I’d have to say ‘Breaking Bad,’ but it’s too late for that, isn’t it? I think ‘Breaking Bad’ is the best TV show that’s ever been made.