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Michael Ian Black got Ian McShane his role on 'Deadwood'

Okay, not really…

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HBO, 2004-06 Creator David Milch's bawdy, grungy reinvention of the Western featured a career-making performance by Ian McShane as swearin' Al Swearengen, and provided a…
Doug Hyun/HBO

From the files of what might have been, Michael Ian Black could have played Al Swearengen on Deadwood were it not for a night of drinking with Ian McShane.

Okay, not really. But for the latest episode of Greatest Story Ever Told, Black explains how he was cast as the lead character on the critically acclaimed HBO series Deadwood, only to lose out because McShane was in the right place at the right time.

“Once, when the show was first coming on, I auditioned for the role of Swearengen. As soon as I opened my mouth, the first line out of my mouth, they stopped me and said you’ve got the part,” Black joked to EW. As he explained, in this scenario, McShane, whom Black had “done theater with for many, many years,” was there too. “I said to the producers, ‘I’ve got this buddy, he needs the health insurance, can he just be a guy who pushes a wheelbarrow in the background?'”

What happened next? An evening of drinking, a bout of laryngitis, and (fake) television history. Watch Black tell his greatest story ever above.

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