Exclusive: Boardwalk Empire Boss Reveals Why [Spoiler] Had to Be Killed Off! Plus: Scoop on the Death Scene That Never Aired

Charlie Cox Owen Death Boardwalk EmpireIt’s been two weeks since Boardwalk Empire whacked Charlie Cox‘s Owen but fans of HBO’s period drama are still mourning the shocking demise of Nucky’s right-hand man. If it’s any consolation, series creator Terence Winter insists the decision to off the character was not an easy one.

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“It’s so hard,” confesses the EP. “It’s one of the challenges of doing a gangster show; people die. People tend to meet unfortunate ends. Obviously, Charlie is somebody we loved and loved working with, and is a terrific actor and a terrific character. But we made a promise to ourselves early on that we wouldn’t keep a character alive because we like the actor. You really have to divorce yourself from the personal side of it and say ‘OK, Does it serve the story?'”

Winter recalls that he faced the same dilemma last season when he killed off Michael Pitt’s Jimmy. “I went through all kinds of mental gymnastics trying to determine whether we could keep Jimmy alive,” he notes. “Ultimately, it kept coming back to the idea that it just feels phony. It feels like a TV show if you keep him alive. It feels like you want to keep the actor alive. And we essentially came to the same conclusion as Owen. If he’s going to make this move on Joe Masseria he’s not going to be successful and ultimately that’s how Nucky finds out that Margaret has been in love with somebody else.”

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owenboxRegarding the decision not to show Owen’s actual death scene and instead have his bloodied body turn up in a crate on Nucky’s doorstep, Winter reveals that the original plan was to show his Turkish bath house extermination. “There was an accident on the set where we were about to shoot [that sequence] — a big plaster rosetta fell from the ceiling — and we pulled the plug on it and decided to shoot it another day,” he explains. “But then we got back to the office the next day and [director] Tim Van Patten said, ‘Do we really need to see it? It might be more powerful to not see it.’ So we decided to wait until we got the entire episode done and watch a cut of it and see what it felt like. And it was actually more powerful without it seeing it. Because now, [the audience] opens that crate along with Margaret. And it was almost more gut-wrenching to not know in advance what happened [to Owen].

“So, it turned out we didn’t shoot it because of a mishap on the set and it actually worked out,” Winter adds. “Sometimes, that’s how magic happens.”

Boardwalk Empire‘s Season 3 finale airs Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.

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47 Comments
  1. Greg S. says:

    Just an advice: PLEASE DONT show us the picture of the guy who has been killed, because if you do, the {SPOILER} instead of the name, doesn’t make sense. And this is not the first time, that this happens. It’s always like ” SPOILER IS DEAD”,and then a huge picture of the dude who died.Please dont show us the picture, just when you click on the article. BTW the site is really good in everything else…:-)

    • A.D. says:

      Stop complaining…if you haven’t seen it after 2 weeks then oh well…guess what darth vader is luke’s father….oops I mean spoiler ;)

      • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

        He has every right to complain. If they are going to spoiler tag the title then why show a picture. They did the same thing yesterday with American Horror Story. Some of us with jobs can’t sit at home and watch all our shows until the weekend. It’s sad that a person has to unlike this site on Facebook because of the constant flow of spoilers coming from it. And yes, in Facebook it shows the article title and any picture they post. It’s annoying and they should know better.

        • A.D. says:

          Guess wha t I work 50-60 hours a week and still manage to watch tv shows before multiple weeks go by

          • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

            Guess what no one cares that you spend every waking hour not at work watching TV. You probably weigh 300 pounds if that is the case. The fact remains that if they felt the need to put a spoiler tag in the title then putting a picture right next to it defeats the purpose.

        • Rrrrrr says:

          Guess it’s a good think Boardwalk Empire comes on on the weekend then, huh?

        • A.D. says:

          For someone who works so much, this little girl here sure is a nasty individual. Don’t read the article or visit the site even if you don’t want spoilers…welcome to the internet…there are spoilers EVERYWHERE! Genius!

        • Keenan says:

          No they don’t. This is a site about TV news. Nobody has a gun on your head forcing you to click on it.

        • Fan of TV says:

          For someone who apparently works so much he can’t watch tv on time, you sure do seem to spend a lot of time trolling this website and picking fights.

      • Bel says:

        The problem is not everyone that visits this site lives in America, or has a chance to watch every episode on time. Or they like to watch the whole season when it’s over. Obviously, if you haven’t seen the episode, you’re not gonna read the article, but it doesn’t matter, because the image spoils it. And you see it even if the word spoiler is right on top of it, and even if you try not to see it.
        I really like the site, and personally I don’t usually mind the spoilers, but I understand these complaints.

    • Simon Jester says:

      TV Line still hasn’t grasped how the Internet works. The entire site is apparently run by interns.

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        That is a bit uncalled for. If you have so much disrespect for the writers, then you don’t have to ever open and read this website. I understand spoilers suck, believe me I do, but it has been a couple of weeks since this episode aired, and there are some of us who watched it when it aired that would like the chance to read interviews about it and discuss it. There really is no such thing as an appropriate time to wait to discuss a big event that’s occurred on a show after it’s aired (except for having respect for time zones between the East and West Coast). Some people need to understand that if they can’t watch something the night it airs, any information on the episode is fair game online. I do have sympathy for people in other countries that have to wait months to see a show after the U.S. does, but there’s not really much that can be done to help that. And before Chuck insults me, yes I do have a job where I work 50 hours a week, and no, I don’t weigh 300 pounds. Sunday shows are just good enough to me that I usually try and catch them on Sunday nights or Mondays.

        • Bel says:

          I don’t think the problem is the article itself, but the fact that there are spoilers on the main page. If they were all after the jump and the image was a bit less obvious than “spoiler: DEATH + very specific image of a character”, I don’t think anyone with half a brain would be complaining.

    • Sareeta says:

      I was already spoiled by this a couple weeks ago on this site. Ugh. How hard is it to talk about characters deaths AFTER the jump to the article?

      PS: It sucks that Owen was killed. First they offed Jimmy, and now Owen.

  2. Get It says:

    Bye Owen! :)

  3. Darth Pablo says:

    Owen is the new Luca Brasi

  4. KT8711 says:

    Look, Terence Winter… all will be forgiven for Owen if Richard makes it out of season 3 alive.

  5. RobMF says:

    I don’t watch this show but this whole thing is a huge spoiler, from the title, the question, the picture and the preview text for the article. Wow.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      First of all…it aired two weeks ago, so it’s not like they’re showing the bigger fans of Boardwalk Empire anything they didn’t already see on TV in the last two weeks. Second of all…if you don’t watch the show, then why do you care?

  6. Daniela says:

    It’s a spoiler only for us Italians, who will see the show next January but I’ve already seen it and not tell anyone :-) It was a smart movie and I so love the show also for these moments! Love from Rome
    Daniela

  7. DanielleZ says:

    Thanks for the interview! I’m still mourning the loss of Owen–he was my favorite character on the show besides Richard–and will probably never get over that scene where the crate was opened. Totally caught me off guard. Just goes to show you that anyone can go on this show at any time so I’m bracing myself for tomorrow’s finale. I hope Gyp Rosetti bites the dust and not Chalky or Richard.

    • Allison says:

      I’m still mourning too. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was absolutely horrified when they opened the crate…wasn’t expecting that at all…and Owen was my favorite character of the series…he was so calm and always knew the right thing to say…and his abs!!! :) Still missing Owen…moreso than Jimmy. And I don’t know what I’ll do if they whack Richard. Love him too!

      • DanielleZ says:

        The same thing happened to me. It haunted me for days and I’ll probably never rewatch that episode. I was quite fond of Owen. I loved his voice and listening to him talk. Richard is another of my favorites. His character is unique in TV land. Brilliant backstory IMO. I was also sad about Jimmy but his death didn’t hit me as hard as Owen’s.

  8. Bob Pare says:

    Why is everyone complaining about the spoiler. If you haven’t watched the show then why even read an article with the word spoiler in it. Seems like common sense to me.

    • Simon Jester says:

      @Bob Pare – The reason everyone is complaining is because YOU DON’T NEED TO READ THE ARTICLE TO BE SPOILED. Although the name is redacted from the title, the photo that accompanies the article and the first paragraph — both of which appear on the main TV Line page — give away the game even to those who choose not to click on the article.

    • Sareeta says:

      Because the first thing I saw when logging onto Deadline was Owen’s picture and text about a character death. It was impossible to avoid.

  9. Joanne McWilliam says:

    I loved Owen and I watched BE just to see him and Richard. If you kill off the latter that’s it for me. No more Boardwalk Empire

  10. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I wasn’t really surprised by Owen’s death. I’m more surprised he lived as long as he did. It seemed like he was marked for death the second he was saucy with Margaret. I’m also surprised it wasn’t Nucky that killed him, but I guess they didn’t go that direction because it was the predictable thing to do. As soon as Owen and Peggy started making plans to run away, I knew that was the end of him. I was still heartbroken though. They do need to keep Richard on the show, and I think he’ll come out fine tomorrow night. Gyp is totally going to bite the dust though, which makes me sad, because I sort of enjoy Gyp’s particular brand of crazy. You can’t go against Nucky and come out alive though. No way, no how. If only Nucky hadn’t wished Gyp “Bone for tuna!” This gang war would never have started! haha.

    • DanielleZ says:

      “Bone for Tuna,” hehe. Yup, Gyp has also POd Chalky and Gillian. I doubt either one will forget his blatant condescension towards them. If Nucky doesn’t get him then one of them will. And Richard is the wild card. If Gillian was serious the way she talked down to him last episode, he’ll probably be after her. Look what happened to Manny the German guy who’s last name escapes me, Angela’s killer. Tomorrow night’s episode could be like the movie Reservoir Dogs.

  11. Greg S. says:

    OK people,I can see some of you gets my problem….I know that I can run into spoilers at this site,thats part of why I visit it, my problem is simply a design problem with the site.I don’t watch Boardwalk Empire, this was just like the 5th article with this picture/spoiler problem, and this is why I wrote here. Sorry for the BE fans,because this is off topic, but I’m just hoping that Michael Ausiello, or Matt Mitovich are reading this, and they are doing something about it, because this is my favorite TV site,and I love everything about it,except this tiny problem, which I’m clearly not alone with.

  12. Crystal says:

    As upset as I am about Owens death, (I loved him!) I thought from a story telling perspective, it was brilliant the way they did it. It made it that much more heartbreaking to see their tender revelation about Margaret being pregnant after the horrifying surprise of Owens death.

  13. R.O.B. says:

    Unfortunate about Owen, but I hope they don’t plan on offing Gyp Rosetti this season. Bobby Canavale’s unpredictable, insane character is the best thing to happen to this show and he should get an Emmy – at least a nomination. In my opinion they can lose all the political stuff around Stephen Root’s character – can’t even remember his name because that whole storyline and everyone in it bores me to tears. Give us back more of Chalky White and Nelson Van Alden’s storylines instead.

  14. delempicka says:

    I’m just heartbroken at Owen’s death. He was a great character, and Charlie Cox absolutely nailed the North-west Northern Ireland accent (I’m from NI and actors often get the regions wrong). Please don’t get rid of Richard – love him. Agree that Gyp is for the chop for sure, but I also love his particular brand of psychopathic lunacy. Agree, the politics stuff is hard to follow at times….still heartbroken about Owen, love him….bring him back…What will happen to Margaret now??

  15. Melanie says:

    For those of you who left thoughtful comments about the show, I enjoyed reading all your posts (and yes I equally pine for Owen, BE keeps killing off all the hot gentlemen!). For the rest of you who are talking about SPOILERS incessantly a bit of advice…A simple rule I follow because I watch shows sometimes months later, I DO NOT GOOGLE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE STORYLINE OR SHOW because I don`t want to know. It is the same reason I don`t watch trailers. This is all personal preference (me human make choices), the internet has no RULES…so ADAPT!! If you don`t want to know don`t click, I searched for this information AFTER I saw the episode, see how that works, after, not before. And Owen still looked hot dead in a crate, yep he did! :0)

  16. i loved owen! why did everyone hate him so much?

  17. Peter Smith says:

    Why are people so tetchy?….Relax peoples….SMILE AND BE HAPPY>.. : )

  18. Watched series 3 finale last night Was half expecting Nucky to be shot!! Richard Harrow character top class Will he be Nucky’s righht hand man in Series 4? Roll on September