Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who delivers one of the standout performances in Texas Rising, thinks Erastus “Deaf” Smith deserves better PR.
Yes, Smith has his place in the history books. He fought at the Battle of San Jacinto and, after the war, led a company of Texas Rangers. He even has a Texas county named after him.
But the scout, guide and spy, Morgan believes, is woefully underappreciated compared to such contemporaries as Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and Sam Houston.
“I hope that, after watching 10 hours of Texas Rising, people will know him better and celebrate him more,” Morgan says. “I hope we give justice to the man, because he was a hell of a guy.”
Morgan, perhaps best known for TV performances in Grey’s Anatomy and Supernatural, underwent an extreme physical makeover to play the role.
Smith was afflicted with a lifelong tubercular illness, often called consumption. So throughout the miniseries, we see Smith fighting valiantly, even though he’s clearly ill, often coughing blood into his handkerchief.
Morgan dropped more than 40 pounds to give himself an appropriately gaunt appearance.
“By the end of production, I was down to 130-something pounds when I’m normally 180,” he says. “There’s a scene late in the miniseries when you see me with my shirt off. I have no doubt that people will go, ‘Oh, my god, what the hell is wrong with him?’”
But Morgan says he would do it all again in a heartbeat, because filming Texas Rising was one of the best experiences of his career.
“Before even reading the script, I said, ‘I want this because I want to be in a Western,’” he says. “I spent five-and-a-half months on the back of a horse in Durango, Mexico, playing cowboys-and-Indians on the same location where John Wayne made seven movies. What’s not to love?”
— David Martindale,
Special to the Star-Telegram