AC Weekly chats with the creator of the HBO original series Boardwalk Empire, the third season of which premieres on Sunday, Sept. 16.
Last December, as the second season of the award-winning HBO original series Boardwalk Empire came to a close, many fans of the show were downright distraught as one of the series' key and most love-able characters — Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) — was killed. Tweets and posts and message boards were flooded with shrieks of "WHY????!!" and the such.
But according to the show's creator, executive producer and showrunner Terry Winter, that was planned out from the get-go.
Winter took some time out of finishing shooting the third season of Boardwalk Empire, which debuts on HBO Sunday, Sept. 16, 9pm (EST), to chat with Atlantic City Weekly as he has done each year since the show was in production mode. Here are some excerpts.
Have all of the episodes for Season Three been shot as of now?
We are currently shooting episode 11 [and] we are in the process of prepping episode 12, which should start shooting in about a week and that will be it. We’ll wrap up at the end of September. So, yeah, we’re coming down the home stretch of season three.
When did you determine that Jimmy would be killed?
Pretty early on. As we started plotting out the season, it became evident to me that the only logical conclusion to that story line was that Jimmy was going to die. I mean I knew that Jimmy was going to die from the beginning of the series, when I started plotting it out. It’s almost foreshadowed in the pilot when Jimmy tells Nucky: “You can’t be half a gangster anymore,” and I knew that at one point Nucky would cross that line and fully become a gangster. I knew he would do it by killing the guy who said that to him, which was Jimmy. I didn’t know when that was going to happen, of course, but as season two started playing out it became evident that if we were going to tell that story honestly, the way to do it [was] for Jimmy to die.
And “You Can’t Be Half a Gangster” is now the tag line for season three.
Yeah, it kind of lent itself to our whole ad campaign and that’s where Nucky is right now. We’re kind of jumping ahead 14 months or so into the future from where Episode 12 [season two] ends. It’s early 1923, actually the very beginning of 1923. And, you know, the game has changed quite a bit. Things have gotten a lot more violent, a lot more competitive, and Nucky has sort of had to up his game as well in order to survive.
Nucky looks rather sick and is hallucinating through the first five episodes of season three.
Yeah, I mean [killing Jimmy] was a major step for him. So, we sort of felt like we wanted to see some of the psychological remnants of having done that. I mean the guy was like a surrogate son to him so he can’t be completely — even if you ask him the question to his face he’d say he doesn’t give a shit, but I think deep dark secrets, being what they are, I think late at night, and when you’re sleeping these are the things that come back to haunt you. And we were interested in exploring that.
The new showgirl on the show, Billie Kent — was she a real-life performer of the era?
No, she is fictional, someone of our own invention. We just sort of came up with her to give Nucky a new mistress. There was a showgirl who rented an apartment from Arnold Rothstein, who was actually murdered in 1921 and found dead in her apartment. But we basically stole the idea that she was a tenant of Rothstein’s, but that’s about as far as the similarities go. She’s not really mean to be that other person.
It seems like everybody smokes in the 1920s.
Yes, yes. There was some ad from the 1920s, a billboard that read how many billions are sold every year — Lucky Strike or Camel. They made a very concerted effort in the late teens to make it clear that smoking for women was appropriate. They actually tried to tie it into the suffragette movement. One of the tobacco companies actually staged a publicity stunt where they said they were going to be lighting “torches of freedom” and it was women smoking, the torches being the cigarette. Because that was 50 percent of their market, you know, that was not opened up because women traditionally did not smoke. Suddenly that became acceptable for women and it was a huge thing.
There must be a lot of cigarette butts on the set of Boardwalk Empire.
Yeah, but they are all herbal cigarettes. Because of union rules nobody’s allowed to actually smoke real cigarettes. Even with the cigars, they’re not real. I think the actors who actually have to smoke them think they’re absolutely vile because they’re not real tobacco. They’re kind of made out of banana peels or something. I’m not really sure what they’re all made of, but they’re not real cigarettes and they’re not real cigars.
Meet the new characters and view scenes from the upcoming award-winning drama series' fourth season, which debuts Sunday, Sept. 8, 9pm (ET).
On Thursday evening, Aug. 15, the popular TV show Project Runway will be coming to the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing with the show’s first winner, Jay McCarroll, hosting a “Battle of the Runways.”
Atlantic City hosts tattoo expo, antique show, and the 5th annual A.C. Cinefest, plus more.
In episode 26, "Spaghetti & Coffee," Eli Thompson is let out of jail, and gangster Gyp Rosetti takes over the fictional New Jersey town of Tabor Heights.
Discovery of a 250-year-old deed sparked the idea for a special event to be hosted by the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office in Mays Landing on Thursday, Sept. 27.
The fifth annual AC Cinefest, presented by the Downbeach Film Festival, will feature Robert Downey Sr. in addition to Terry Winter, award-winning creator of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, and actor Peter Dobson.
"What can I say, interesting shit happens in New Jersey."
Early in the premiere episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, a crowd of dapper Atlantic City movers and shakers, partying well into the night in a spiffy supper club, make a familiar countdown, cocktail glasses held high...
By 2000, Hammonton-based historian Nelson Johnson had compiled the first comprehensive history of Atlantic City between two covers, and enlisted the help of two New York literary agents in structuring and marketing the manuscript. His book, called Nucky’s Town (after political boss Enoch “Nucky” Johnson), presented a road map through the storied city by the sea, complete with detours, pitfalls, and pockmarks.
"What can I say, interesting shit happens in New Jersey. But really the New Jersey factor is almost incidental. This is about Atlantic City and a specific era in A.C. — the ’20s, which was just a really cool time and place to be. I’ve always been fascinated by Atlantic City and came down here a lot when I was a kid. Nelson’s book covers the whole history of Atlantic City from when it was marsh and seashore to present day."
"Eddie lived in a kind of musically optimistic 1920s place even though he had a shitty childhood. His parents died when he was young but his grandmother raised him and he was little and scrawny so he got beaten up a lot. He learned to make jokes so he could avoid getting beaten up, so from then on he realized this singing and dancing thing could work."
“It’s been my love and passion ever since I was five years old and I think this music moves people. People who come to see us, they say, ‘When I got here I was in kind of a blah mood, not so good, or depressed, or whatever and I come out in just a whole different place. I’m laughing, my spirits are lifted, it’s cheaper than going to a psychiatrist!’”
Terry Winter, the executive producer, creator and one of the chief writers for the award-winning, Martin Scorsese directed HBO drama series Boardwalk Empire, has finally wrapped filming on the second season's last episode as of Wednesday, Sept. 7.
"“Before we even shot, I would call Terry Winter and ask, ‘By the way, which character am I talking to, and what do I mean by what I’m saying here?’”
A huge audience of 4.8 million people watched the Sunday night premiere, which ran against a big football game featuring the New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts, more than any other HBO premiere episode in more than five years...
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On the Set of ‘Boardwalk Empire’