Memories From the Set

Madam Secretary's Keith Carradine Talks Dexter, Deadwood, Damages — and That Time He Wooed Madonna

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By his own estimation, Keith Carradine “wasn’t much of a horseman” when he landed his first TV role, on Bonanza in 1971.

Not that he was planning to share that with the show’s producers if they asked. Thankfully, they didn’t.

keith-carradine-deadwood-dexter-photos“The conversation never came up,” the Madam Secretary star recalls. “And if it had, I’m sure at that point, I would’ve lied through my teeth!”

On the day of the shoot, “They wanted me to canter up to this scene,” he says. “I remember that there was a lot of air under my butt on that ride-up.” He laughs. “They had a double come in and do the long-distance stuff for me. I was kind of chagrinned by that, and I made it a point from that moment on: I said, ‘I’m going to become a decent horseman so the next time I’m given this opportunity, I’m not going to look like such a bozo.'”

The work paid off: Bonanza was far from the last time Carradine would be called upon to mount a steed in his nearly 50-year, self-described “eclectic” TV career. Ahead of his stint as Turner Classic Movies guest programmer Monday — his selections start at 8/7c with Captains Courageous — TVLine got the veteran actor to reflect on a selection of his small-screen gigs.

Click on the gallery at right — or go to it directly here  to hear Carradine wax nostalgic about decking a Star Trek captain, donning a Kung Fu bald cap, making a Big Bang as Penny’s dad and romancing the Material Girl.