As The 'Deadwood' Movie Nears, David Milch Reveals Alzheimer's Diagnosis

After appearing for many years that a Deadwood movie would never happen, the beloved Western will return to HBO next month to put an exclamation point on David Milch's creation. It should be a time of celebration, but early on in Vulture's interview with Milch it's noticeable a certain somberness to the proceedings. Milch, who is notorious for his on-the-fly working style, is said to be there to "to watch, not interfere", which is totally unlike him. It isn't long before we find out the reason, and it's that Milch has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

For Milch, the signs came early and from his friends and who began noticing his "short temper" and "imperfect recall". He admits to not going in for a scan right away, but when he did the results were exactly as he feared...

“As best I understand it, which is minimally, I have a deterioration in the organization of my brain,” he says. “And it’s progressive. And in some ways discouraging. In more than some ways — in every way I can think of.”

Milch is putting on a brave face in handling the diagnosis, and taking some lessons from his mentor Robert Penn Warren who suffered a similar deterioration.

 “He was not well toward the end of his life,” he says. “He was every day encountering subtle differences in his condition. But there was an unflinching dignity in the way that he carried himself and a bravery and kindness.”

There's always been a sense of sorrow to Deadwood; all of these aging cowboys and gunslingers in one place hanging on to old glories. That will be compounded in this movie, as well, with Milch's disease referenced as the movie is “suffused with a melancholy acceptance of the passage of time and the certainty of aging and death."  Milch plans to keep on working throughout, but the day-to-day execution of Deadwood has been handed to director Daniel Minahan and Regina Corrado.

Deadwood hits HBO on May 31st.