Starting Friday September 7th on RTÉ Two, Hell on Wheels is a gritty new drama starring Colm Meaney and Dominique McEligott. John Byrne reports.
Yep, it's a western. Hell on Wheels tells an epic story of post-Civil War America, focusing on Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a former Confederate soldier seeking revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his wife. His journey takes him west to Hell on Wheels, a lawless town that travels with and services the construction of the USA’s first transcontinental railroad.
From AMC, the makers of hit dramas such as Mad Men and The Walking Dead, the show depicts a dangerous melting pot. On the journey, Hell on Wheels chronicles a major turning point in the history of the United States as The Wild West is tamed – but at a price.
From an Irish perspective, the cast includes a duo of Dubliners: Colm Meaney and Hollywood newcomer Dominique McElligott. But will Hell on Wheels be any good? Well, the tagline says it all: Blood will be spilled. Lives will be lost. Men will be ruined.
This is not Bonanza or Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Meet the cast . . .
Anson Mount is Cullen Bohannon
A former Confederate soldier still fighting his own personal war, Cullen Bohannon made a home in Hell on Wheels while hunting down the men responsible for the murder of his family. When Cullen murders an innocent man in the name of vengeance, he abandons both his mission and the railroad. Now on the run, Cullen is once again without home, family, or country. But just as he can never truly escape his past, he is far from free of Hell on Wheels.
Colm Meaney is Thomas ‘Doc’ Durant
Thomas ‘Doc’ Durant, based on a real life character, is an entrepreneur taking full advantage of the changing times as the railroad opens up the once ‘Wild’ Western United States of America. As the railroad races towards the Rockies, Durant tries to fill his pockets while cementing his place in history.
Common is Elam Ferguson
An emancipated slave born of a white master and a slave mother, Elam is a man with no home or people to call his own. On the railroad he is empowered by a gun and a fearlessness but finds he will need more to earn the respect he craves. Elam and Cullen’s fates are bound together, not only by their common Southern roots, but also by circumstance.
Dominique McElligott is Lily Bell
Lily Bell is a young widow making her own way in a world that has no place for her. Once the face of the railroad, she now struggles to find her place in an enterprise ruled by men. Having adopted her husband’s dream, Lily commits to seeing the railroad through to completion, but must deal with the moral sacrifices that such an endeavour demands.
Tom Noonan is Reverend Cole
Reformed from a life of violence and alcohol, Reverend Cole turned to God. After serving as a minister for the Union Army in the Civil War, Cole is sick of the slaughter; he genuinely wants to help the whites and Indians avoid another war. He takes up a holy mission of conversion and peace to prevent the annihilation of the native race.
Eddie Spears is Joseph Black Moon
A Cheyenne Indian who has converted to Christianity, Joseph has been studying and preaching under Reverend Cole, his adopted father. The clash between his new faith and cultural heritage is further complicated when Joseph engages in a romantic relationship with Cole’s daughter, Ruth, forcing him to face new and even more complex prejudices in Hell on Wheels.
Ben Esler is Sean McGinnes
Phil Burke is Mickey McGinnes
As young Irish immigrants who’ve come west to find their fortune, Sean and Mickey McGinnes have fought tooth and nail to survive in Hell on Wheels. Unsatisfied with the small success of their magic lantern business, their sights are forever set on the next enterprise. Cracks develop in the brothers' relationship as they exploit business opportunities in Hell on Wheels, using more and more underhanded tactics. As Sean comes more into his own as a fledgling entrepreneur, Mickey must decide how far he’s willing to go to appease his brother.
Christopher Heyerdahl is Thor Gundersen
Known as ‘The Swede’ despite his Norwegian heritage, Gundersen was appointed head of security of Hell on Wheels, maintaining a semblance of order in the railroad town. A man of puritan simplicity and a survivor by nature - he survived the horrors of a Confederate POW camp during the Civil War — he is convinced that Bohannon is a murderer and becomes obsessed with bringing him to justice.
Robin McLeavy is Eva
A former Indian captive turned prostitute, Eva has now found a quiet life as the wife of railroad worker, Mr Toole. However, Eva’s past constantly haunts her – she still bears the Native facial tattoos from her time in captivity and is still in love with emancipated slave, Elam Ferguson. When Eva and Elam are reunited, Eva finds herself torn between him and a more simple life.
Hell on Wheels begins on RTÉ Two on Friday September 7th at 9.00pm