Season 4 of Boardwalk Empire wrapped up on Sunday, and naturally all of the key characters in the series underwent major changes. One of those characters was Jack Huston‘s World War I sharpshooter character Richard Harrow, a character that started as a supporting character in the first season whose role grew into a lead as the series progressed. New York magazine spoke to Huston about the finale, and if you haven’t watched the episode yet you better not click for more!
After a particularly bloody season, the final scenes of the season 4 finale featured Harrow experiencing the happy ending that the fan favorite character deserved, only for the scenes to be revealed as the final happy thoughts of a dying Harrow.
Like fellow Boardwalk Empire actor Anthony Laciura said when he spoke about finding out about his character’s demise earlier in the season, Huston first found out about Harrow’s fate from an uncharacteristic phone call. He explains, “You get the infamous phone call. Normally if [showrunner] Terry [Winter] wants to tell you something, you get an e-mail. So if you get the phone call, ‘Terry’s trying to get ahold of you,’ you know what’s going to happen. But I was pretty much prepared for it. I sort of knew it was going to happen.”
He elaborates on how he “knew” the end was coming by adding, “This is an awful way to say it, but it’s absolutely true: If he had just carried on, being married to Julia and taking care of the kid, that wouldn’t be fitting. I mean, he’s a wonderful surrogate father, because it was like his pact with Jimmy, taking care of Tommy, was the one thing Jimmy would have wanted, but Richard needs to be fighting for something. What one realizes about tragic characters is the moment they get everything, that’s the moment they die. When everything you’ve ever wanted happens for you, that’s when everything starts to go wrong. It’s inevitably going to be the end. And he had an honorable death. Richard knew he wasn’t going to come back from this. Before Jimmy went to his death, he goes, ‘This is something I have to do.’ He chose to die. And I think Richard was doing the same thing. He knew he was going to his death.”
Of course, as much as he enjoyed playing Harrow he admits the most difficult part is that he won’t be working with the Boardwalk Empire cast and crew anymore. He laments, “The hard part is not getting to work with all these people, but they’ll be friends for life, and I’m sure we’ll get to work together, hopefully many more times, in the future.”
Though Harrow is gone, audiences won’t have to wait long to see Huston. He next appears in David O. Russell’s film American Hustle. About that role, he says, “I got the part through improvisation, like, he just sent me an idea of what he wants the character to be. And then, on set, David will be saying lines in the moment, he’ll rewrite scenes as you go along, and it’s amazing to watch him work. What he did, he managed to shoot a film that should have taken twice as long to shoot. I’m excited to see it, but shooting it, it’s all a bit of a blur. I was doing American Hustle, doing the show, and having a baby — all at the same time. I was doing the show, I went to do American Hustle, got a train back on Saturday morning, had the baby that night, got on a train on Sunday, and went back to American Hustle, and then came back to the baby and the show. So it was pretty mental!”