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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

'Hell on Wheels' star speaks out against method acting and bad southern accents

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BANFF, Alta. - "Hell on Wheels" star Anson Mount says he's not using a 'method' when he assumes the role of a tortured Confederate soldier bent on seeking revenge against those who killed his wife and young son.

In fact, the very idea of so-called "method acting" — in which actors try to 'become' a character in real-life — prompted an angry rant.

"Oh God! No they don't. They just pretend they do," he snapped in an interview with The Canadian Press at the Banff World Media Festival.

"I am the most outspoken critic about this B.S. We have it in the United States and this doesn't exist anywhere else but the Americas. In England the audience doesn't show up at the bar after the theatre and run into the guy playing Hamlet and ask him if he's still in character," Mount added.

Set in 1865, the AMC series chronicles the settlement that accompanied the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, referred to as "Hell on Wheels" by the company men, surveyors, support workers, labourers and prostitutes who make the mobile encampment their home.

Mount plays Cullen Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier who works as a foreman on the railroad as he tries to track down the Union soldiers who murdered his wife and young son.

"We play make believe. That's all we do," said the Tennessee-raised actor. "We play make believe very good and very professionally but what we do fundamentally is a process of play. It's what we do," Mount said with a shrug.

"It's not called shamanism. It's not called psycho-freakability where you turn into someone else-ism. I played this movie where I played a meth addict who ends up selling his daughter. It wasn't hard to play that scene ... I memorized the lines and played make believe. It was fun."

"Hell on Wheels" is in the middle of filming its fourth season and Mount said he could see it running at least six or seven.

He is a fan of Cullen Bohannan.

"I wanted this role particularly as a southern man who likes work that is set somewhere between New York and L.A. I couldn't believe the network had the balls to have a protagonist that was a former Confederate," he said.

"You need me to be a southerner if you want to realistically do it. I hate bad southern accents. They're worse than anything."

"Hell on Wheels" is one of a number of successful series on AMC, the home of hits including "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men," "The Walking Dead" and "The Killing."

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

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