Deadwood

The David Milch TV series “Deadwood,” despite garnering critical acclaim and a loyal fan base, prematurely ended after three seasons back in 2006.  Since then, various attempts to tie the story up have been made, with many doubts it would ever happen.  In 2019, however, it finally did and the show was given the opportunity to reach a satisfying conclusion with “Deadwood: The Movie.”  Please note if you’ve not watched the film, this article contains spoilers.

While set in the town of Deadwood, South Dakota, both the original TV series, as well as the movie, were primarily shot in Newhall, California at Melody Ranch.  Another renowned HBO series, “Westworld,” shot at the same ranch, where it served as the town of Sweetwater.  The production designers did a great job of giving each show a much different look from one another.

Melody Ranch is private property, inaccessible to the general public most of the time.  However, the ranch does in fact offer tours (something of a rarity for movie ranches), with the caveat being that no tours occur whenever active production is taking place on the ranch.  The challenge is the fact that production is almost always taking place there.  So opportunities for the general public to see it are rare and not something you can plan much in advance.  You simply need good timing or a lot of persistence.  In years past, the ranch also hosted the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which also allowed the public inside, but due to the heavy demand of productions over recent years, the festival has relocated elsewhere.

Given that the “Deadwood” show and movie are tied together as one narrative, this article is intended to cover both, but once it was clear the original show would not return after the third season, many of the sets were remodeled, dismantled or shifted around, as often happens on studio lots.  When filming for the movie finally got up and running in 2018, much of the sets had to be recreated.  Since the story in the film picks up 10 years later, as South Dakota is entering into statehood, many of the sets also had to be updated to reflect the passage of time.  The photographs in this article showcase the movie’s sets.

Much like the original show, most of these sets have since been repurposed or dismantled after filming completed, in order to make way for new productions coming in.  Here we offer a glimpse into that brief moment in time where Deadwood stood in full glory once again.

LOCATION: 24715 Oakcreek Ave, Newhall, CA 91321

The most famous location is of course the Gem Saloon, owned by Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), who would often stand on the balcony overlooking the activities of the town.

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The Grand Central Hotel is where the villainous Senator George Hearst, played by Gerald McRaney, takes residence.  He too often stood out on the balcony, engaging in verbal jousts with the residents of Deadwood.

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Seth Bullock, played by Timothy Olyphant, lives in this house at the end of the main street of Deadwood.  This location had long been demolished since the original show, with the original blueprints lost.  The production designer had to study the original show footage in detail in order to rebuild the set for the film.

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Here is a look inside Seth’s house, where he is seen walking down these stairs.

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Here are the train tracks and station platform where visitors arrive.

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After running a hardware store with Seth, Sol Star, played by John Hawkes now lives with Trixie at the Bullock & Star Hotel.  In the film, as Hearst rides through the streets in a parade, Trixie stands on the hotel balcony and berates him.

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The Bella Union, owned by Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe) in the series, is now owned by Joanie Stubbs (Kim Dickens) in the film.  The same building was famously used as the brothel in Westworld where Thandie Newton’s character works.  It’s also seen in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” when Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters are interviewed on a western set.

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Here is the interior of the Bella Union, which viewers of “Westworld” would immediately recognize when seen from reverse angles.

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Here is a view of the upstairs.

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This is the bar where Wild Bill Hickok, played by Keith Carrodine, is killed in the show.

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In the film, Calamity Jane, played by Robin Weigert, returns to the bar to pay her respects.

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The outside of the jail of Marshall Seth Bullock.

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The interior of the jail.

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This is the area where Seth tracks down Charlie’s killers and has a brief standoff with them.

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Mr. Wu is relieved when his son escapes unharmed.

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We leave you with a view down the main street of Deadwood, where the sets stood tall one last time.

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