Anson Mount is a Renaissance man. He’s channeled his acting talents to all forms, working on film, stage and most recently, television. He sat down with students, staff and performing arts professor Mark Tymchyshyn at the SCAD Museum of Art on Nov 2.
Mount discussed his role in the upcoming AMC series “Hell on Wheels,” his multiple acting outlets, as well as advice that he could leave with students.
From the moment that Mount walked onto the stage, it was clear that his talk was going to be interesting. He sat back, microphone dangling between two fingers, and drank coffee as he talked about his role as Cullen Bohannon on “Hell on Wheels.”
When Tymchyshyn asked how he came upon this role Mount replied, “Long story short, I auditioned.”
At the time, the multifaceted actor was working on a play in the midst of tech week and left in order to pursue the role. “I read the first scene and I couldn’t put it down,” Mount said of the script.
The character of Bohannon is a former Confederate solider on a quest for vengeance against the Union soldiers that killed his wife and child. This quest leads him to Union Pacific Railroad’s westward construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad.
The audience was shown a clip of the show’s pilot, filled with action packed scenes and a compelling story. The show holds nothing back — dealing with topics of freed slaves, a fallen south and a man who will do anything to avenge his lost loved ones.
In a scene that Mount shared with rapper-turned-actor Common, who plays a freed slave named Elam, he makes a simple gesture of drinking from the man’s water bucket. Mount himself added that simple action to raise the stakes of a white man stepping into a black man’s territory.
Having grown up in Tenneesee, Mount lived through a segregated south and used this experience when approaching the water fountain scene. “Something wasn’t right about me just walking into this guys environment and starting a conversation with him.”
Mount carried this same consideration into his conversation with students. As students asked questions, Mount talked to them and not at them. He took time to think his answers through and felt authentic and real.
If he carries the same vulnerability on screen, “Hell on Wheels,” will be something to watch this fall. The show premieres on Nov. 6 on AMC at 10 p.m.Contact Eboni-Jade Wooten.