‘Hell on Wheels’ Star Phil Burke Reflects on Series’ Impact

by Samantha Whidden

His hit AMC series Hell on Wheels came to an end a little more than five years ago, and now Phil Burke is reflecting on the series and the impact it had. 

During his interview with Cowboys & Indians, Burke, who played the Irish immigrant salon keeper Mickey McGinnes on Hell on Wheels, chatted about the experience he had on the set of the hit series.
“We all had this incredible experience. I think you just gotta leave it where it is.” 

Burke then discussed how much he hated the end of Hell on Wheels. “I personally hated the end of our show. It is what it is. Would it be great to have, you know, these characters explore down the road? Absolutely Would people be interested in it? I don’t know. I think we should be grateful and happy that we had our time in the sun.”

However, the Hell on Wheels actor said he’s more pushing for Mickey PI, San Francisco Personal Investigator. “Maybe do some dirty work. It’s kind of like the original Ray Donovan.

Hell on Wheels premiered on November 6, 2011, and ran for five seasons with nearly 60 episodes. The series followed Cullen Bohannon (played by Anson Mount), who was a former Confederate soldier. He initially joins the railroad to track down the Union soldiers who had murdered his wife and young son during the American Civil War. 

Starring alongside Mount and Burke was Colm Meaney, Common, Dominique McElligott, and Tom Noonan. The show came to an end on July 23, 2016.

Phil Burke Shares More Details About the Development of His ‘Hell on Wheels’ Character

While chatting with AMC in 2014, Phil Burke opened up about how Hell on Wheels character, Mickey McGinnes, Evolved from his first appearance in season 1. “ The whole thing about Mickey is, he’s a survivor,” Burke stated. He also said that as the railroad moves forward, he believes Mickey had jumped on that train and learning from people like Bohannon and Durant. 

The Hell on Wheels star then described the various stunts that were performed on set. Burke calls the stunt coordinator fantastic and nice enough to allow the cast to do what they feel safe doing. “When you get to play in the Wild West, you want it to be as authentic as possible. So when you’re allowed the opportunity, it’s great.”

In regards to Mickey becoming the honorary Mayor of Cheyenne, the Hell on Wheels star revealed his thoughts on being a mayor of a town during the 1800s. “I was [class] president in my high school. So I’m not averse to running for political office,” Burke explained. He also shared that his grandmother was a big politician in Ireland. So, politics are in his blood. “My first policy would be to name my casino. And get me on the cover of that fireman calendar.”