‘Hell on Wheels’ season 4, episode 7: Common, producers on shocking Elam decision

CommonLast night, you witnessed what was one of the biggest shockers in the history of “Hell on Wheels.” Now, you are getting a little bit more information when it comes to why this happened in the first place. (Major spoilers ahead!)

Ultimately, the move to kill off the Elam Ferguson character came not as a result of the show’s own decision to let the character go, but rather out of Common’s own desire to focus more on his music career. In theory, he probably could have just left the show after season 3, but we are glad that he came back to do these two episodes to show even more of his capabilities as an actor.

Common spoke in a Deadline post that went online after the episode, and explained why he made the choice that he did:

“I got to say it wasn’t the easiest thing for me to do, but I have a lot aspects to my career that I wasn’t able to nurture being up in Calgary for so long every year filming Hell On Wheels … Acting is very, very important to me, but music is very important to me too.”

We also like the way that executive producer John Wirth explains this decision, mostly because it serves as an answer for some who may question why Common (real name Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.) couldn’t just do more of his music during his time off of filming:

“This is a full-time job and it’s also a seasonal job, and the seasons of touring are basically the spring and the summertime when we shoot the show … So, for three years, Rashid had to put his music commitments on hold.”

This does not mean that losing Elam is an easy pill to swallow at all. It’s hard. He was a foundation for the show, and a fantastic actor to go along with it. Maybe this will give some other performers more to do, and we’re not going to let Common’s decision impact our own decision to keep watching and enjoying the show.

With that being said, we’re still choked up and haunted by the way last night ended. It may be one of the darkest moments of any show this year.

What do you think about Common leaving the show for music? Let us know, and to get some further TV updates on everything we cover, sign up for our CarterMatt Newsletter today.

Photo: AMC

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