His role as Al Swearingen in Deadwood made McShane an indelible presence, Shakespearean in tone, Machivellian in bearing.
Menace leavened with occasional flashes of humour and heart.
Except for his animated-film voice work, McShane is rarely sought for nice-guy roles, usually playing gangsters, detectives or conflicted characters. Most recently, he's appeared on Broadway in the 40th anniversary of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, to rave reviews. (Seeing Ian McShane on stage is one of those Bucket List things for me.)
"The bad boy: always more fun. It's funny. When you're in your early 20s, you go ahead and do everything,... you're playing a 60-year-old in Russian plays, and you get criticized, and you say, 'What the hell, I'm an 18-year-old trying to be a 60-year-old Russian?'
But the bad boy, I had a knack for it from the start."