There are many reasons to love this final full season of HBO's Deadwood(Sundays at 9 pm/ET), not least among them the continued standout performance by Robin Weigert. As the vulgar, dirt-smeared and usually plastered Calamity Jane, Weigert makes off with every scene she's in. The actress checked in from Las Vegas where she was, appropriately, playing poker.
TV Guide: You mustn't get recognized much in public. You're like night and day with Jane.
Robin Weigert: I don't, and it's kind of a treat in its own way. But I suppose poker players are into Deadwood [Laughs], so there's a certain point where I'll hear, "I know you from somewhere," but they just can't place it. It's very funny to me.
TV Guide: How much of Jane's mannerisms and speech inflections are yours and how much is [creator] David Milch's vision for the character?
Weigert: Well, not to make it seem mystical, but this character kind of came to me whole. I just kind of found this person. The key to it, though, is the words on the page. I think what [Milch] does is take what he sees from us and then build on it, and start to write to it. He does a fantastic Jane! When he has an idea that's very clear to him, he'll sometimes "do" her.
TV Guide: Do you play Jane based on history's accounts of her?
Weigert: The research element was a mixed bag for me. I did do some, but a lot of what I learned, David sort of said was untrue. I think various historians have been invested in making [some sort of] figure out of her. But we do know there was some form of abuse in her childhood and that she was cut loose at an early age. So the person that she is is, in a lot of ways, damaged. I think she sort of relishes that persona. It's born out of a tremendous need to be defended against a threatening world. That's the major building block of the character.
TV Guide: What do you do to get in character?
Weigert: The first season, there was a ridiculous amount of stuff that I did, because I didn't trust it as much. [Now] there's less, because she's sort of become my friend. But the first season, people might have thought I was a lunatic, because I was spending tons of time roaming around in character. I think part of it, too, was that I had never really done much film before. I had pretty much done theater.
TV Guide: How do you feel about the show ending?
Weigert: Your first feeling is that the rug has been pulled out somehow. But I think David's creative process is an amazing thing. I would want it to end at exactly the point that he wanted it to end. It's always better to end something when the quality is so good. And I do feel like he created a kind of a masterpiece.
TV Guide: You've done some surprising nude scenes on the show.
Weigert: Oy. [Laughs] I'm so shy about that stuff. The one we shot last season was sort of my "virgin trip." [Laughs] I went home that night and pulled the sheet up to my chin and had a good cry. And then I got a part in [an upcoming] Steven Soderbergh movie [The Good German] where I play a stripper, of all things!
TV Guide: But you're not shy about the show's coarse language.
Weigert: I see it as the perfect expression of that world. It would lack its visceral punch if it didn't have that. We've actually [been doing] looping for potential syndication, so we have to replace those words. It is such torture, because it corrupts [the dialogue] when you're saying "freakin'" and "cobshucker" and ridiculous nonwords like that.
TV Guide: What do you think of Jane's romantic encounter with Joanie?
Weigert: I like the direction that it's taken. I thought that was an interesting side of her to explore. Obviously there was that tremendous love she had for Hickok, but it was never realized, it was a fantasy love. [With] Joanie, it's more reciprocal. It's hugely threatening territory for her.
TV Guide: Ever tempted to show up bombed on set, just to make it easier to get into character?
Weigert: [Laughs] No! Once in my life I had the experience of acting when I was drunk, and it was a complete mistake. I was in a play in San Francisco, and I had gone on a wine-tasting tour of Sonoma during the day. I realized I practically had the spins! Amazingly enough, it was fine; but in hindsight, it was terrifying.
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