Last December, when director Nimród Antal’s Predators was filming at Robert Rodriguez’ Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas, I got to visit the set along with a few other online journalists. As I said in my set report, I was very impressed with what they showed us and think fans of the franchise are finally going to get another great Predator movie.
When we were on set, we got to speak with most of the cast and after the jump is the interview we did with Walton Goggins. During the interview he talks about his character Stans and why he’s obsessed with the number 38 (it’s how many people he’s killed), what it’s like to walk around in real life with a ton of fake tattoos, his thoughts on how The Shield ended, how he got involved in Justified, and a lot more. You can either read or listen to what he had to say after the jump:
Since some of you might not have seen the Predators trailer, I suggest watching it before the interview.
Like I always do…you can either listen to the interview as an audio file by clicking here or you can read the transcript below. Predators gets released July 9, 2010.
Goggins: Justified, actually, a new series on FX. No, I’m here to promote Predators. Yeah, I know you were joking around.
Can we talk about the tattoo on your neck?
Goggins: You like the tats? Check this out. It’s crazy on the neck. How about this on the arms, man. Check that out. They’re all over the place. We did one. I was working with this company called KNB and I wanted him to have one that he didn’t get in prison, so we did one with color and it probably took an entire month’s rent to get this one tattoo, but he has it. He got the rest kind of in prison. That make sense?
How many do you have?
Goggins: Ones that you can see or ones that you can’t see? About 12, man. It requires like an hour of makeup every day to put them on. And I’ve requested that they not be taken off at the end of every day just so I can kind of freak people out in 7-11. I find that I have no problem getting a table at a restaurant when I walk in. (Laughs)
Are you going off set with the tattoos on?
It seems like it would be fun to play with your character in real life.
Goggins: Yeah, well, it’s… I never fancied myself having a prejudice towards people with tattoos. I personally don’t have any and I don’t think that I do, but I do see that people treat me differently with tattoos. People get out of my way. More often than not, I ride in elevators alone these days. But, I don’t know, I think I’m really going to miss having them off because it feels like an extension of who I am as Stanz. It feels like part of my outfit.
Tell us about your character? What’s the number, 38?
Goggins: 38. 38 kills. He’s a celebrity in his own mind and a famous kind of… I think he just had a bad three days. He went off his meds for three days. His name is Stanz, Walter Stanze, and he’s a bit of a celebrity. It’s interesting because his crimes were committed 15 years ago. He’s been on death row for 15 years, so he’s not lonely because of all the fan mail. So he’s a little more well adjusted than most serial killers, I think.
Were there any serial killers you modeled him on?
Goggins: Well, not knowing any personally. No, you know, for me, when we started talking about it I came down here and met with Robert and with Nimrod before filming began. And Robert told me this was something they were thinking about doing. And, for me, it was an opportunity to kind of infuse a little more humor, you know, into this movie and to be someone who thinks that people should be asking for his autograph. Like, these seven people on this alien planet should be asking him for his autograph all the time because they don’t know who they’re sitting with. I’m a big deal. I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Has he written a book?
Goggins: Yes, I think he has probably written a book.
How much input did you get as far as being able to work with the dialogue and add your own spin?
Goggins: I’ve been a fan of Nimrod’s for a long time, since Kontroll came out. I met him about two and a half years ago and we really hit it off. I feel, in some ways, I’d found a soul brother. You know, we see art the same way, and so I had been wanting to work with him a long time and this opportunity came up. And I came down here, like I said, and met with Robert and with Nim and then just started kind of improvising. I think they trust me to kind of go off script and kind of bring my thing, whatever that is, to this world. They’ve been very accommodating in that regard. It’s been good. It’s been a lot of fun.
We were talking about your character as saying endearing things?
Goggins: Yeah, I mean, it’s crazy, you know? I don’t know. I think I’ve made a career out of making despicable people likable, if that’s any consolation to myself. It’s been interesting because the guy who kills 38 people is not the guy you’d want to have over at Thanksgiving, but I think his humor comes from pessimism, it comes from a cynical world view and he’s able to say things that are very familiar on our planet on an alien planet. And when you hear things like that repeated, it’s really funny given the situation that he’s in. I hope so. I hope it’s funny. I think it’s funny.
It seems like this character’s a pretty nasty guy and Shane was a pretty nasty guy. What are some of the similarities between playing those two roles?
Goggins: They both have a similar haircut. (Laughs) More often than not, I think the similarities kind of begin and end with the fact that they talk before they thing, you know, they act before they think. I think this guy is not as bad as he quite thinks he is. And so his bravado is skin deep. He’s the first person, I think, that actually calls out for help. He needs people’s help.
They’re both nasty and Shane was likable too at the same time. How are you able to make these nasty guys so likable to audiences?
Goggins: I sure do hope that that’s the case. I think it’s just a matter of humanizing them, of making them real and kind of making them three dimensional. And anybody on any given day can be angry, they can be scary, they can be funny, they can be any number of things that we as human beings can be. And Stanz, his introduction to this movie is quite physical and quite scary and I think you’re gonna think that he’s one way and then over the course of this experience, by the time that he leaves this film, you’re going to be rooting for him. You’re gonna say, “Yeah, oh my God, that’s how it happened. Oh my God, that’s incredible.” I hope so. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Does your character go hand-to-hand with the Predator?
Goggins: You could say that. Yeah, I think that’s safe to say.
Is that what the scar on your shoulder is?
Goggins: That’s a, well there are several different Predators on this planet and they come in several forms. This is definitely an altercation with one of them. They’ve called me kind of Pigpen. I’ve had, honestly, I’ve had so much blood on me and dirt throughout this experience that there was a point there where flies were just following me around. I don’t even think they have flies in Hawaii. They flew over just to follow me around.
So the Predators bust your character out of jail, out of death row?
Goggins: Essentially, yeah, absolutely, yeah I’ve got a reprieve. I didn’t need the Governor. Yeah, they did, they kind of picked everybody out and I was one of them.
Speaking of the Governor, there’s rumors that Arnold might put in an appearance.
Goggins: Would you put in a good word for us, that would be fantastic. No, none of us know the answer to that question. That’s a rumor that’s been floating around since, I think, before I even came on board. No one will either confirm or deny that, but God, it would be nice if he would. The movie I think impacted a lot of people. I was 18 or 16 at the time when this movie came out, so to do something with Arnold Schwarzenegger would be pretty cool.
He did something for The Expendables.
Goggins: Maybe. This is his franchise. Come on, Arnold, please.
You guys have been watching the original movie a lot. Have you been doing a lot of Arnold impressions?
Goggins: Everybody does an Arnold impression. It’s interesting because we all have various lines from the original movie. And they’re organic to this story, but they do come out and people do say them and you wouldn’t recognize them out of context without the accent. But then you kind of do. It’s like, oh my God, that was a line from the original film. And I actually hadn’t seen the movie since I saw it the first couple of times way back when. And I didn’t want to see it before the movie began just because I didn’t want to feel like I was just part of a movie. I wanted to be a part of this movie.
This movie, though, has a variety of different Predators unlike the first one. Which one is the most interesting and scary?
Goggins: They would all keep me up at night.
Do you think that the audiences demand more layers from the villains these days then they did back then?
Goggins: The aliens meaning the Predators themselves? I think what will be really interesting… I think I can say this. There’s no one around, I think I can say this. People are going to watch this movie for a variety of different reasons and one of the main reasons is to see what the new Predator looks like. I mean, come on, I’m dying to see what this guy looks like. And you’re going to be held off from seeing it in its full glory for a while. But I think it’s safe to say that you won’t be disappointed. I’ve seen it and it scared the shit out of me.
This is the black Predator?
Goggins: The black Super Predator. Absolutely.
The one that takes his mask off.
Goggins: Absolutely, yeah.
Have you seen the face?
Goggins: I have seen the face, yes, and it’s scary.
So who has that Schwarzenegger-Carl Weathers handshake?
Goggins: We’re all trying to pull out our muscles, but I don’t know that the handshake is in here but maybe we still have time to work that in.
Are there any lines in this that would compare to the original that you think might become catchphrases like ugly motherfucker?
Goggins: That’s in there, but I think, hopefully, Stanz is going to have some catchphrases for you that you’ll find pretty funny and off-color in the best way. I think, if we’ve done our job right, hopefully they’ll be repeating them when they leave the theater. We’ll see, but it’s pretty good. There’s some humdingers in there, man, it’s funny.
We’ve been hearing that a lot of the characters have some resemblance to the characters in the original film. Does your character have a resemblance to one of them?
Goggins: The original Predator? I don’t know the answer to that question. I guess there are, on some level, but weren’t there six in the original and there are eight of us. Yeah, so I think it’s a little bit different and I think the characters in this story, this feels more like an ensemble movie. I think most of the characters were out of the original by like 60 minutes, 50 minutes or something like that. The last 40 minutes was just Arnold. We’re gonna stick around for a lot longer. If this movie is to succeed it’s going to be because it’s an ensemble group of what I think are really good actors. I’m fans of all the people in this cast, that you’ll get to feel for. You’ll get to care about whether these people live or die and then hopefully you’ll celebrate when they do die or if they die.
Production wraps in a week or two. Have you lined up what you’re doing after?
Goggins: Yeah, man. I’ve got a couple movies I’m going to do after the first of the year. And it’s been a big decision for me to go back into television. Based on that seven year experience on The Shield and looking for the right material. I’m doing something for FX called Justified, a new series with Tim Olyphant, as a favor. I’m a big fan of Tim’s and a longtime friend and the network, FX, is my home. My partner and I, we have a production company and we have a show at AMC called Rectified, which is about a guy who spends 21 years on death row, oddly enough. And it’s about the day that he gets out of jail based on DNA evidence and he’s this monk-like character who’s lived in isolation for 21 years. And it’s the way that he sees the 21st century that we live in today. And I’m going to play the lead, so that’s hopefully going in March. We’ll see.
Have you already shot the pilot?
Goggins: We haven’t shot the pilot yet. We hope to shoot the pilot sometime this Spring.
Goggins: Yeah, AMC. I feel like I’m cheating on my wife. FX is my seven year relationship, but AMC and the material that they’re putting out there is on par with FX and as good a product as being made on television.
Do you miss Shane at all?
Goggins: I really miss him, man. It was very hard, I think, for all of the cast-members in their own particular way, to let these characters go. For me, Shane was someone that, I spent so much energy trying to get people to like him because people didn’t for the longest time. They loved to hate him and they laughed at him because he was really funny kind of early on in the series. But I knew as the show progressed that if, based on what Shawn had written, that I could get people’s heart, you know, and I could make them kind of care for him and eventually see the world from his point-of-view. He was corrupted morally by Vic Mackey. So it’s been hard to let him go. I still have his leather jacket. And I have his boots. I’m the guy who dresses up as Shane on Halloween. (Laughs)
When you look back on The Shield and talk to people who loved that show so much, they talk less about Mackey’s final scene and about the family meeting. Can you talk about filming that episode and the way Shane went out?
Goggins: I was, I did this movie for Spike Lee called Miracle at St. Anna and it coincided with the last two episodes of The Shield. Shawn gave me the script as I was getting on a plane and he said, “You’re going to read this and you’re going to read it alone.” No, they actually sent it to the hotel in Italy. They said, “You’re going to read it alone and if you have a problem, call me, even if it’s at 3 o’clock in the morning, just call me.” And I read it and I started crying. My first response was I just threw it across the room and I said, “Fuck this,” you know? “I’m not going to fucking do this.” Because, for me, how could you ever come back from killing your family? How could you ever be redeemed in the audience’s eyes? And I cared about this character so much. And it was only the second time that I read it through that I realized the opportunity that Shawn had given me, in spite of this act, that if I was able to execute what Shawn and the other writers on the show wrote, then I could carry this group that’s been following us for seven years on a great journey and feel for him and sympathize with him in a way that you haven’t been given an opportunity to sympathize with characters on television. So it was just, it broke my heart. It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to let go in my career so far. And my career really started in earnest with a movie called The Apostle with Robert Duvall and that changed my life. So I’ve had a good, I’ve had a really nice run. And Shane was, you know, definitely the pinnacle, until this job started. Now you guys are going to be saying Stanz. Walter Motherfucking Stanz. He’s a great guy, this guy. Hopefully you’re going to have a lot of fun with him.
You see excited about the character.
Goggins: I am. I’m so excited about this character and I’m excited about, you know, Adrien Brody, as the lead of this series, lead of this movie. I think that, where we’ve come as a culture, we want to see ourselves reflected in our heroes. Unfortunately most of us don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. We don’t.
I’m glad I don’t.
Goggins: Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad that you don’t. We look somewhere, we look like we’re between Adrien Brody and John Goodman, you know. Really, that’s the American side and that’s the people that I want to see save the planet. Because I want to feel like, you know what, if I was in that situation I could do that. And I’m excited about that. I’m really excited about the multi-racial, multi-cultural characters represented in this movie and I think that, as despicable as we all are in our own right, the fact that at some point in the movie we’re going to come together, is a beautiful thing. And I didn’t think that this movie was going to be deep at all, to be quite honest with you. When I read it I was just, oh my God, the action, the action, the action. But there’s a big message behind this movie and I think it’s about humans helping humans and humanity at large and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
For more Predators coverage: