YEAR:  2014

ROLE:  Father Judge

DIRECTOR:  Simon Cellan Jones

TV-SERIES DATES:  January 20, 21 & 22, 2014

Plot Summary

This Discovery Channel series portrays the fight for survival and wealth in a small frontier town in the remote Klondike. The six-hour series follows the lives of two childhood best friends, Bill and Epstein, in the late 1890s as they flock to the gold rush capital in the untamed Yukon Territory. This man-versus-nature tale places our heroes in a land full of undiscovered wealth, but ravaged by harsh conditions, unpredictable weather and desperate, dangerous characters including greedy businessmen, seductive courtesans and native tribes witnessing the destruction of their people and land by opportunistic entrepreneurs. Sam plays Father Judge who's on a mission to save souls in order to atone for his violent past.

Richard MADDEN.....................Bill Haskell
Abbie CORNISH............Belinda Mulrooney
Tim ROTH...................................The Count
Time Blake NELSON.................Joe Meeker
Ian HART.................................Soapy Smith
Augustus PREW.....................Byron Epstein
Conor LESLIE..................................Sabine
Johnny SIMMONS..................Jack London

Production Notes

Production began in March 2013 in Alberta, Canada. Klondike is a co-production between Discovery, Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures, in association with Scott Free Productions. Paul Sheuring wrote the script based on the book, "Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich" by Charlotte Gray.

Producer David Zucker: "When we were pursuing Sam, even getting connected to him proved to be a challenge. It proved to be a rather large ordeal because he was out fishing. So we couldn’t get hold of him directly. He didn’t have Internet. We couldn’t e-mail him the script. So we had to find a way to actually get connected with Kinkos so that we could have it printed and then the next morning when he’s back from fishing, he could then pick it up. He read it. He called us. And then I think the other attraction perhaps is that he could get in his car, drive up to Calgary, do some work, and then go out and fish again."

On the set: The crew of Discovery's first-ever scripted show cranks up the snow machine as stars Richard Madden and Sam Shepard button up their wool coats and two buses unload dozens of extras dressed in heavy 19th-century garb. The only problem? It's actually a beautiful May day on the Calgary set, with temperatures hovering in the high 80s. When the director yells "Action!" the actors do their best to re-create the subzero temperatures of the ­Yukon tundra - until the snow machine unexpectedly shuts down mid-scene. "What the f--- happened to the snow?" exclaims Shepard as he looks to the sky, prompting laughs from his costars.

PCA Press Tour
View the gallery of photos from the press tour - January 9, 2014

Wall Street Journal:
The best of the townspeople is the priest Father Judge (Sam Shepard). Like other characters and events in the series, he was partly drawn from Charlotte Gray's 2010 book, "Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike." Father Judge is a small but bright light of goodness in a town where most people go wrong at least in some way just to survive. An older Mr. Shepard has let his face become more expressive than the younger one did, giving him increasing power as an actor. A scene of Father Judge climbing up his rickety church in a rainstorm to raise a cross atop it is a dramatic high point of the series, too.

Kansas City Star:
Sam Shepard plays Judge as a grizzled, stark scepter who could frighten Christopher Walken. As usual, Shepard is restrained and razor-sharp.

David Wiegand, Houston Chronicle:
"Klondike" is melodramatic, but feels more substantial because of minutely detailed scripts and fully realized performances. The miniseries was shot on location, and the cinematography is spectacular, so much so that it's almost like watching a top-grade travel documentary at times.

Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter:
Superbly directed by Simon Cellan Jones, who packs in sweeping, awe-inspiring images of nature with the up-close ugliness of dank, mud-packed streets, Klondike stands out instantly with its large canvas. Jones and his crew filmed real avalanches, icy river scenes, snow storms, gunfights in dense forests - all of which contrasted grandly alongside the day-to-day drudgery of the camps. Jones manages to make these six hours feel cold and wet as you follow Haskell and the denizens of the Yukon through their often bleak pursuit of the all-consuming gold nugget.

Terri Schwartz,
The great acting chops of the cast of "Klondike" and the strong writing and cinematography made Discovery's first scripted miniseries a solid investment of six hours.

Hank Stuever, Washington Post:
A strong cast delivering an honest effort... A solid spirit and a moral underpinning... “Klondike” is not going to win awards for its lackluster screenplay and penchant for melodrama, but it does have some of the plucky energy you’d enjoy at one of those faux-saloon dinner theaters, where the gradations between good and bad hardly exist. It comes across almost like a musical without any songs, and before long, you’re swept up in its crisp visuals and steady pace.

Shaunna Murphy, Hollywood Life:
Sam Shepard
and Tim Roth shine as two of the (many) colorful characters Bill meets on his journey. Sam plays the fascinating real-life historical figure Father Judge, a strong-willed but ultimately just priest who tends to the emotional and physical needs of the brave souls navigating the treacherous conditions of Klondike. Tim Roth, meanwhile, is delightfully wicked as the Count — a campy, would-be land baron who is willing to resort to desperate measures to make it rich.

Hugh David, Cult TV Times:
Lead Richard Madden as Bill Haskell, an educated man taking a risk with his gambling brother, does a fine job from the get-go, particularly around veterans like Brit Ian Hart, American Tim Blake Nelson, and the great American playwright and actor Sam Shepard as the Catholic priest planning on bringing at least God’s law to this place.

Ellen E. Jones, The Independent: 
The support cast includes everyone's favourite craggy-faced wise man, Sam Shepard, as a craggy-faced, wise preacher man.

Scott Foundas, Variety:
Boasting a first-rate cast, an increasingly engrossing narrative and frequently awe-inspiring visuals, the six-hour saga transports viewers back to the tail end of 19th-century life with a requisite dose of contemporary edge.

Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly:
Discovery has really gone all out for its first original scripted show: Three-part miniseries Klondike has top-notch production values, with beautiful scenery and impressive special effects, set design and costumes. Its supporting cast includes recognizable faces Sam Shepard, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson and Abbie Cornish. And the story, crafted by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring, is suitably epic.

R. Thomas Umstead,
"Klondike’s" pace, dialogue and storyline are terrific, but just as impressive are the majestic images of the landscapes and nature that surround the characters’ quest for success. "Klondike" makes viewers feel like their travelling through the cold, snowy mountain caps, roaring river rapids and muddy, stream banks that Haskell and Epstein have to navigate to reach their ultimate goals.
Performances are generally excellent across the board, with the charismatic Madden handling a pitch-perfect American accent while subjecting himself to all manner of challenging physical ordeals. Cornish walks a fine line in showing both Belinda’s toughness and her vulnerability and Sam Shepard is admirably unsentimental yet compassionate as Dawson City’s resident priest, Father William Henry Judge.

Mary McNamara, LA Times:
Sam Shepard and Tim Roth are the A-listers here, representing two sides of the frontier coin. Shepard plays historical figure Father William Judge, the steely but humane Jesuit who ministered to Klondike's physically and spiritually sick. Roth, in full fiend mode, is the Count, who having not struck gold seeks to control all he sees. They are, it almost goes without saying, fabulous, bringing to "Klondike" the shifting hues of deep-water characters that have become a hallmark of prestige drama.

Erik Adams, AV Club:
"Klondike" amounts to a classy, well-photographed treatment of big ideas: Greed, survival, manifest destiny, justice, sacrifice, and fate all get a chewing from Dawson City’s prospectors, con artists, legitimate business owners, and representatives of law and order. Klondike’s cast is stocked with top-flight talent - Sam Shepard, Tim Roth, and Tim Blake Nelson all put in supporting turns.

Alan Sepinwall,
Other than Cornish's complicated Belinda, the supporting characters are all stock types, but the actors generally breath interesting life into them. There's a world-weary matter-of-factness to Shepard's performance, for instance, that sells the innate decency of Father Judge.