In the television version of Lonesome Dove, I play Cornelius J. Trudell, a St. Louis pastry chef who had fled to Fort Smith, Arkansas, amid allegations that he murdered an elderly society dowager—along with her entire bridge club—by serving them a poisoned charlotte russe. A morbid genius, Trudell works by day as an assistant to the Fort Smith undertaker but labors far into the night perfecting his deadly recipes, and it is he alone who knows that his employer’s sudden surge of business has a direct connection with the local doughnut shop.
Brilliant, sardonic, mysteriously attractive to women, Trudell is one of the most complex characters ever conceived for the screen. Simon Wincer, the director, allowed me unusual latitude in bringing the character to life. Wincer clearly believed so strongly in the necessity for an actor to prepare in solitude, in the sanctum of his own soul, that he paid me the ultimate professional tribute of not consulting me at all.
The role of Trudell