Having watched the first few episodes of HBO's Deadwood, I can now add a new actor to my list. Ladies and cocksuckers, meet Ian McShane:
McShane plays Al Swearingen, Deadwood's foremost supplier of booze and whores. Al has the charm of a rabid wolf and morals to match, and even in a town where the word "cocksucker" is used to greet the wife at breakfast, Swearingen's potty mouth stands out:
"Now you lay there and shut your fucking yap. The only time I want you to open your yap is when I stick my fucking pecker in it."What a guy. But the thing is, for all that Al is an absolute cock(sucker), McShane is so cock-suckingly good an actor that you can't help but warm to the old pimp and murderer. He has these amazing eyes that can be as hard and grey as a starched dolphin in one scene (in which he cold-bloodedly murders a low-life business associate, for example), then in the next scene (in which, say, he contemplates the futility of the human condition, or maybe even adopts a puppy - I haven't watched the whole season yet so anything's possible) he looks as though he is about to cry, but he doesn't, which makes his big wet eyes all the more effective. So, Al's a crim with a heart, then, and I know this is not exactly original, but its incredible that McShane can pull it off given how much of a prick his character is.
"You owe me five dollars, seven if you ass-fucked her"
If you're yet to check Deadwood out, it comes highly recommended. The Western hasn't been this much fun since Leone hung up his ultra-close-up lense. Although there are obvious parallels, it doesn't quite do for the old west what The Sopranos did for organised crime, but it comes pretty close. Great performances, excellent writing, "guest appearances" by Jeffrey Jones - you don't see shows of this quality every day.