A native of Tennessee, Anson Mount is tired of the Southern stereotypes he’s used to seeing on camera.
“It pisses me off,” says the 40-year-old actor, who plays the former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon on “Hell on Wheels,” which returned for its third season on AMC earlier this month. “It’s just the same old s— all the time: uneducated, incestuous, racist.”
When Mount saw the script for “Hell on Wheels,” about the creation of the first transcontinental railroad, he knew he had found something different.
“We tend to have a lot of books and history classes and films set around the Civil War, but Reconstruction has not been closely examined,” he says of the era that followed the Civil War.
While the characters on the show adjust to a new America, Mount and rest of his cast are in a state of flux of their own — in December, AMC introduced that John Wirth (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) would take the showrunner reins from the series’ creators, Joe and Tony Gayton.
“They’re different battle plans,” Mount says of the writing styles between Wirth and the Gaytons. “But with every battle plan they say you’re crazy to go into a battle without a plan and then you’re crazy if you stick the plan once you start the battle.”
The studious type
Mount says he had “an amazing Civil War history teacher” and that he recalls “so much from his class.” But since the show focuses heavily on the years after the big war, “I actually had to go back and do some more reading,” he says.
Reconstruction of the country and of the self
“I think this is gonna be our best season yet, and I’m not just giving out lip service,” Mount says, adding that they’ve “turned a corner with the show.” Bohannon’s struggles aren’t going to let up, but Mount is hopeful for his character. “Either he goes further into addiction until he’s dead, or he finds a way out. We had to find a way to dig him out and that involves reconstructing your soul at the same time that we’re constructing the railroads, so I think metaphorically he gets out."