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Sam Shepard on Taking ‘Klondike’ Role: ‘I Was Out of Work’

TCA 2014: ”The landlord was going to kick me out,“ Shepard explains of his decision to join epic Discovery miniseres

Discovery Channel’s upcoming epic miniseries “Klondike” chronicles the rush for riches during the Yukon gold rush. As it turns out, Sam Shepard — who plays Father Judge in the miniseries — was in a bit of a hurry for cash himself when he took the role.

“Yeah, I was out of work,” Shepard deadpanned when asked about his decision to take the role at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Thursday. “The landlord was going to kick me out.”

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Shepard provided a number of standout moments during the “Klondike” panel. Asked about switching  between acting and writing, Shepard — a wordsmith as well as a thespian — curtly offered, “The hats look exactly the same; there’s no difference between the writing hat and the acting hat.”

And quizzed about the recent fascination with Alaska and the wilderness on television, Shepard offered, “The exterior of course is different, but I see this as just another piece of American madness. It’s just another chunk of the insanity that we carry around with us, regardless of whether we’re involved in technology or if we’re involved in trapping beavers.”

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The environment that “Klondike” was filmed in was a major subject of the panel. Much like the prospectors they’re portraying, the cast battled the elements while filming in Canada, whether that meant contending with the frigid cold or dangerous river rapids.

Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”), who portrays Bill Haskell in the miniseres, offered his methodology of dealing with the latter.

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“I just kind of convinced myself that it was a studio and we could turn off the rapids if we wanted to,” Madden offered. “It’s the only way I was getting into them.”

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