Article on Canyon News by Tommy Garrett
William Sanderson at the HBO Golden Globes Gift Lounge
Catching up with an old friend is a popular thing to do. Recently, I caught up with actor William Sanderson, whom I am not only friends with, but a huge fan of his great career. Sanderson is unlike most stars in Hollywood. He’s a well-read, highly educated man who chose a career in acting after filling his life and mind with education and many amazing life experiences. That’s what makes him one of the best actors of all time. He’s filled with rich life experiences which he’s able to convey in his many varied roles over a long and distinguished career. One that, after decades, shows no signs of slowing down at all.
His wife Sharon seems to be a grounding force in his life, which is probably why Bill is able to go from one incredible run on a series, like he did recently on “Deadwood,” to an amazing turn of a totally different type of show and character, which he now plays on HBO’s “True Blood.” That’s right, the man now is part of a vampire television series and he’s winning over critics and fans all over again. He seems incapable of getting anything in his career wrong. The prolific actor is the most versatile actor today.
It requires a performer of tremendous ability to make an indelible impression in a supporting role, but actor William Sanderson has made a career out of creating characters who are seared in memory. From hit sitcoms to the hottest dramas on HBO, his work spans a wide variety of genres and styles in which he renders his often simple-minded, small-town characters with precision.
Currently Sanderson can be seen as Sheriff Bud Dearborne on the award-winning HBO series “True Blood,” created by Alan Ball, a part which critics say he performs as a “master of understated comic delivery.” The show’s award-winning first season will be released on DVD in May, and the second season begins airing in June. The role follows his three seasons as the skittery hotel proprietor E.B. Farnum on HBO’s epic “Deadwood,” which saw him starring opposite Ian McShane. Later this spring, Sanderson will also guest star in the blockbuster series “Lost,” playing a Hunter S. Thompson-type character. He can also be seen in the recently released DVD of the Emmy-Award winning 1997 miniseries “George Wallace,” sharing the screen with no less than Gary Sinise and Angelina Jolie.
When faced with the question of why he is able to play such different and versatile roles, the ever humble actor responds, “Thank you for saying that. I am very grateful for all the different characters I’ve been lucky enough to play…30 years worth…but I have repeated myself—to pay the bills. Currently, I’m playing a normal person, Sheriff Bud Dearborne, on ‘True Blood.’ Bud only fears God…so unlike my ‘Deadwood’ character, E.B. Farnum, who was a scared, sniveling sycophant.”
Those adjectives could never be confused with the actor who plays these roles with aplomb and experience. When Canyon News asked Sanderson who his favorite cast member is on “True Blood,” it was expected he would give a classy answer. “No favorites, they are all fun to work with. However, right now, I would like to single out Ryan Kwanten, the young handsome Australian actor who plays Jason, to say how much I appreciate that he has been so kind and respectful to an old geezer like me.”
Old geezer? Hardly!
When you have the mind and attention of Sanderson, you do your best to try to learn as much as possible. So when asked what 2009 would be like for the actor, Sanderson said, “Not withstanding the current economic crisis, I believe 2009 will be the best ever for me and my family. I have so much to be thankful for; I’m currently healthy, working and have a roof over my head. An end to all wars, peace, love and prosperity would be nice too.”
Just because his offbeat portrayals of small-minded, small-towners in “True Blood” and “Deadwood” follow Sanderson’s memorable roles in projects like “Gods and Generals,” “Lonesome Dove” and his hilarious turn as Larry, the quirky backwoodsman, on the long-running sitcom “Newhart,” don’t mistake the man for the parts he plays. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, and a lifelong Elvis fan, Sanderson also has a law degree and studied acting in New York with theater legends Herbert Berghof and William Hickey.
One of his earliest film roles was as the brilliant toy maker in Ridley Scott’s science-fiction classic “Blade Runner,” and his TV appearances also include guest starring roles on “ER,” “The X-Files,” “The Practice” and “Without a Trace.” Sanderson recently wrapped the Indie film “Pretty Ugly People,” with Allison Janney.
While the characters on “True Blood” and “Deadwood” might be a far cry from the warm and friendly Sanderson, the actor doesn’t mind being identified with the characters he has played. “I’d rather be typecast than not cast at all,” he says. “I’ve had roles where I’ve played redeeming characters, but they all pay the bills.” As long as he finds characters to sink his teeth into—the vampire-hunting Sheriff Bud would forgive the pun—then William Sanderson is likely to go on delighting audiences with his unforgettable and entirely unique talent. At least if we’re lucky.
>> Join the conversation, post your comment here:4 COMMENTS