Molly Parker didn’t really want to do a television show and isn’t a fan of westerns. So how exactly did she get roped into starring in the new HBO gunslinging drama, Deadwood? “David Milch,” explains Parker, referring to the creator/writer of Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue and now Deadwood (which premieres on The Movie Network and Movie Central March 21). “He is an incredible storyteller. After listening to him talk for half an hour about this character, I thought I would do this job just to listen to him talk every day.”
So the Maple Ridge, B.C.-born actor, who’s been living in Los Angeles for four years, signed on to play Alma Garret, a New York society woman who ends up in the lawless prospecting town of Deadwood, S.D., in 1876, with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. “On the surface it’s this macho western,” says Parker, 31, “and yet as you watch the whole season you realize all these characters are in some kind of spiritual crisis and have come to this place because maybe here they can find redemption.”
Alma, who’s addicted to laudanum and whose husband dies soon after arriving in Deadwood, is certainly in crisis when she decides to stay on. “There are no laws and there is no society,” says Parker, “and she intuitively feels that she could perhaps live another life there, become a person as opposed to this ornamental appendage.”
When talking about the role, Parker is completely rapt. Even after seven long months filming in constricting wardrobe, she’s anxiously awaiting getting started on the second season. As for her career on the big screen, she says she’s reading scripts and helping her husband, writer/director Matt Bissonnette, prep for his second movie, Summer Babe—a comedy about love and betrayal that she’ll co-star in. But for the most part, she’s been happy living in the past—in fact, she finds it somewhat revelatory. “With
where America’s at right now, at war, with this president, and with a neo-conservative political landscape, this show allows you to go back and see what was happening at the beginning of this age of expansion.” Parker, it seems, got more out of a television western than she ever imagined.
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