The popular FX drama Justified, based on the works of crime novelist Elmore Leonard, returns for a second season starting on February 9th. Fresh off the epic gun battle that concluded the first season, Season 2 finds Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey) dead and the Crowder family’s criminal grip on Harlan County broken. Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) must now face off against the criminal organizations that are looking to fill the void, and he finds himself entangled, once again, with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins).
During the FX portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, show star Timothy Olyphant talked about how good it feels to receive the praise of Elmore Leonard, who created this complex character, how much he enjoys everything about his work on Justified, his new title as a producer, and how much he thinks the series has grown in Season 2. He also talked about the experience of working on I Am Number Four, due out in theaters on February 18th, and said that contrary to previously announced reports, he is not testing for the lead role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: There have been a lot of movies based on Elmore Leonard’s work, and he has not been shy talking about the ones that he does not particularly care for. When you know that he thinks you have played the best version of one of his characters ever, that’s nice, but does it also put pressure on you?
TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: It just feels good. He was very generous with his compliments, when we first met. We didn’t meet until after he’d seen our first episode, and he was very gracious and very kind. I was quite tickled by the whole thing. He just couldn’t be cooler. I really enjoyed spending that time with him, and I was thrilled that he was pleased, and I begged him to write more.
Does the character do anything that surprises you, or that you have had to step back and go, “How do I play this”?
OLYPHANT: Yeah. In terms of the character itself, I find Raylan rather complicated and quite surprising. It’s what makes it so fun to do. Having an affair with his ex-wife was surprising. I said to Graham [Yost], “Once we open that can of worms, how is that going to work? If someone comes to dinner and tells me they’re fucking their ex-wife, we might not talk about anything else for the rest the night.”
What do you think about people naming their children Raylan because they love your character so much?
OLYPHANT: It’s a good question. In fact, yesterday, I was talking to my 3-year-old, Raylan. No. Elmore Leonard created an amazing character and I just try to fill it out. It is a joy to do. I hesitate to say this, because I would like to win awards one day, but it is pretty easy to do. When it’s that well-written, and the way Graham [Yost] picked it up and continued, it just makes the job really easy. Beyond that, as to how people respond and react, they are just crazy.
Since you’ve done it now for Justified and Deadwood, and in The Crazies, are you happy with playing law enforcement officers?
OLYPHANT: Yes, I am. I’m in show business, and we have a long history here of making movies about law enforcement officers. If you’re my age and you’re male and you’re trying to get work, you’re going to run into those roles, as opposed to having a long run of playing dancers.
Do you prefer to do those roles instead of the villains on the other side of the law?
OLYPHANT: I haven’t played a villain of late. I was in Live Free or Die Hard and I was evil, but I had a cause.
Do you enjoy the physicality of Raylan Givens?
OLYPHANT: I enjoy the whole thing. There’s nothing about this job that I don’t like. It was just a great opportunity and I was thrilled to get my hands on it. The whole experience of being able to just act out the part, and being able to participate in the direction of the show and every aspect of the show, has just been a wonderful challenge. I feel very blessed that I’ve been given the opportunity to do the whole thing.
Were you a producer on Season 1, or is that new for Season 2?
OLYPHANT: No, I just pretended to be one. Now, they’ve created a monster. It’s really fun.
How has it changed things, now that you’re a producer?
OLYPHANT: There’s very little that I’m doing this year that I didn’t do last year. If anything, we just have a deeper understanding of one another, especially (executive producer/writer) Graham [Yost] and I, and the collaboration. We had an opportunity, this time, to spend some time together and have conversations, prior to the season beginning. He just knew what to expect, and vice versa, so it really helped. When I saw the first three episodes, I saw the result of that, and I’m very proud of it and pleased with it.
When the series was conceived, Raylan didn’t have this shadow self that he was interacting with. Do you think it’s now unthinkable to do the series without Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) as a foil?
OLYPHANT: Nah, we can get rid of Walt! I think his family would be upset about that. No, I adore the man. I love working with him. He’s a terrific actor. In fact, all the actors this year are just outstanding. With no disrespect to anyone in particular last year, I just think we have more really good actors this year. The entire Bennett clan are all good and they all get the joke. Last year, we had some stand-outs, like Jere Burns and Stephen Root. I know that Stephen is back this year, and I think Jere is going to be back this year. Those guys, in particular, stand out as guys who got it. They could just hold the screen on their own. They get the drama and they get the comedy of it all. It feels like everybody this year is in on it. Margo [Martindale] is just turning cartwheels. It’s just great. It feels like a much richer world this year, and I think the cast is responsible for a lot of that.
OLYPHANT: It was a great job. It was a lot of fun. (Director) D.J. [Caruso] was a lot of fun to work with. I play the part of Henri, just bringing this boy (Alex Pettyfer) along. He’s got a lot of trouble on his hands, and I’m trying to help him out. I think it’s going to be a big, fun movie. The audience it’s meant for, I think are going to eat it up.
Is it true that you’re also testing for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter?
OLYPHANT: No, that’s not true. I’m not doing that, no. Thanks for asking, but no, that’s not true.
JUSTIFIED returns for Season 2 on FX on February 9th