Sunday, December 3, 2006
Okay, here's me trying to test how to put a photo on this blog. If it came out right it should be me on the right next to Peter Coyote playing General Crook on DEADWOOD. It's a fake moustache and make-up to hopefully make me look like an old coot who's been through "The Indian Wars".
It was a one-of-a-kind experience for me. Although you might only have noticed my character "Captian Bubb" in the scene where I interrupt a dinner/meeting Crook is having with news of the soldiers running amok and he decides it's time to split, I actually worked on the set for three weeks and am in the background or just off screen in about twenty or so scenes.
None of which matters, except to say what "a gasser" it was, as Selby would say, to be part of project that I believe is the closest TV has ever gotten to Shakespeare, thanks to David Milch's brilliance (and the writers he hired to help him).
It also was a thrill because I got to ride a horse for the first and only time. When asked if I rode, I said "The last time I was on a horse was when I was a kid". They thought I meant I rode horses when I was young, so said, "No sweat, it's like riding a bike, you never forget how." But in fact what I meant was when I was very very little I was put on a pony down the Jersey shore and someone held the reins and walked the pony and me around in a circle.
But the old wrangler who picked a horse for me, made sure it was an easy one. He told me it's like driving a car! and showed me the basic left right backward and forward and faster moves and let me try them out for a few minutes before I had to ride on camera!
I loved being in the saddle, the actual historical cavalry saddles from the period we were supposed to be in. I was told they're terribly uncomfortable, but either because my skinny ass is so bony or as one of my grandmothers used to say, "No sense, no feeling", I never felt uncomfortable. I could have stayed on that horse all day, and a few times did.
I felt so proud at not only being able to ride the horse, but ride fast in one scene we did over and over again of Coyote (on a huge mule, bigger than any of the horses, like the real Crook rode) and me and the other two guys in the shot (actual horse stunt men) tore into town and jumped off our horses, without looking ridiculous. In fact, I thought I looked pretty cool.
But that shot was never used, and neither was the other one I was most proud of, shot at night, I had to ride out of town through rowdy reeling drunks, some holding flaming torches, between rutholes, and all. And as throughout the show, without my bifocals which it was decided looked too hip for the period.
So, half blind, in the dark, never having ridden a horse before, I had to make mine back up, turn right, weave between stunt men and extras and actors surging all around, some with flaming torches in their hands, and all with one hand as I held the company flag in the other! Just making it through the scene seemed like a triumph, but actually pulling it off as I thought my character would made me feel so gratified.
That scene never made it in either, but man, was it a beautiful experience. There were many takes, and I remember feeling on one of them like I had really been transported back to the frontier days. The set was historically accurate and built chornologically as the real Deadwood was. And even though some of the buildings were simple facades, riding through the rutted muddy dirt street in the dark with everyone in period costume and character, and the camera way behind us and high up and unseen by us, it felt like the real deal.
Every childhood cowboy fantasy was fulfilled in that moment. Man, am I one lucky cat or what? I used to be bugged by what I thought was the unfairness of my not getting the lead in things like that, but now know that I have been blessed way beyond most people's fantasies.
But then as Selby taught me, it's all a blessing, you just gotta say thank you.