The cast and crew of the new F/X series starring Timothy Olyphant as a US Marshall discuss the upcoming show
The F/X network has made quite a name for it's self over the past decade as a cable network willing to air gritty and exciting dramatic television that pushes the envelope of what you can do on TV. With critically acclaimed and popular series like The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me and Damages, F/X has helped usher in a new era in primetime television and they are continuing the tradition with their new series, Justified, premiering March 16th. The series stars Timothy Olyphant (The Crazies) as US Marshal Raylan Givens, a hard-as-nails, cowboy-type officer based in Florida that administrates his own style of justice, which puts a target on his back with both criminals and his own bosses. As a result, he is forced to relocate and is reassigned to the department that covers his rural Kentucky hometown, which forces him to face demons that he left behind years ago. The show was created by Speed writer Graham Yost and is based on a character created by novelist Elmore Leonard (Jackie Brown). Besides Olyphant the show boasts a talented cast of actors that includes Walton Goggins from The Shield, Nick Searcy (Blood Done Sign My Name), Raymond J. Barry (Lost), Natalie Zea (Dirty, Sexy, Money), Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel and Page Kennedy who played U-Turn on Weeds. We recently had the opportunity to attend the premiere of Justified and talk with some of the cast and crew about the new series, it's old school feel and what fans can expect from the exciting new show.
While the show is based on a character created by Elmore Leonard it has already received comparisons to McCloud, the classic '70s detective show starring Dennis Weaver as a US Marshal who moves to New York City to administrate is own unique brand of justice. The show's creator Graham Yost spoke to us about the obvious similarities yet big differences between the two shows. "I'll tell you a story about that," said Yost. "It's based on an Elmore Leonard character that is in two books 'Riding The Rap,' and 'Pronto' and the short story 'Fire In The Hole.' That's what we based the pilot on was 'Fire In The Hole' because it takes Raylan from Miami back home to Kentucky. I was talking to Elmore Leonard after he saw the pilot and he said, 'You know, he doesn't have to wear the hat all the time. This isn't McCloud!' So no, it's not McCloud because McCloud was the cowboy going to the big city and this is a guy who just happens to wear a hat and is going back home to Kentucky." Yost continued to discuss the tone of the series. "The tone is really Elmore Leonard, that's what we try to hit each week. So it's a mix of comedy, its very dry humor, sudden threats of violence, unpredictable turns or that's our hope and there is a little bit of the western," he explained. "Especially sort of Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, you know the guy doesn't yell, he doesn't shout, well you'll see."
The show's star, Olyphant, discussed how he views the show. "It does seem kind of old school, it seems kind of fun," he said. "You know any time that you can get your hands on something that seems kind of old school and is contemporary at the same time ... well it's kind of fun to get your hands on that." Olyphant, who played Sheriff Bullock for three seasons on the popular but short-lived HBO series Deadwood, talked about the differences between his old character of Bullock and Raylan Givens. "Oh, this is a totally different deal. This show is funny, light and easier going. It's Elmore Leonard so it's a different beat, you know? A different tone completely," he explained. Actor Nick Searcy who plays Raylan's new boss in Kentucky explains his take on the show. "I think its kind of a one guy out on his own sort of having to make decisions and sometimes he pushes up against the side of the law, sometimes he goes over it. It's that kind of a show."
One of the "demons" that Raylan left behind when he moved away from Kentucky was his best friend, Boyd Crowder, who is now in charge of all criminal activity in Raylan's hometown. Crowder, the show's villain for the first arc is played by non other than critically acclaimed actor Walton Goggins who is best known for playing the tragically doomed Detective Shane Vendrell for seven seasons on the hit show The Shield and will be seen this summer fighting killer aliens in Predators. The actor began by explaining just what it is that he like about the show. "To me Justified is a hybrid of the Coen Brothers meets The Shield," he said. "You know it is a classic western with good people, bad people and a morally ambiguous 21st century twist. While Raylan Givens, Timothy Olyphant's character wears a white hat and me, Boyd Crowder wears a black hat, I think people are going to be surprised at how those two things merge," the actor concluded. Goggins originally singed on as a guest star because he was busy shooting Predators and was working on a pilot for AMC. With Predators wrapped and his AMC series on hold for the time being we asked the actor if he may return for more episodes now that his schedule is clear? "You know, believe it or not I'm not at liberty to say. You'll just have to tune in and see what happens," the actor said cryptically indicating that it was likely to happen.
We followed up by asking Yost if he intended to have different villains come and go throughout the show and if there were plans to bring Goggins back? "Walton's character Boyd died in the short story but we loved him so much we were like, no that bullet has to miss his heart because we need him back," Yost explained. "So we made that choice because we wanted to see more of him. Boyd and Raylan have a cool relationship that plays out over the first season." The writer went on to explained how they initially worked around Goggins busy schedule. "Well you know, he was off doing Predators in Hawaii but it just so happened that he was in jail anyways in the story so he would come back for a day, we would shoot him in jail and he would go back to Hawaii. So he was able to live on." However there will be no shortage of bad guys on the show for Olyphant's Marshal to go after. Page Kennedy will join the cast in the third episode and told us a little bit about the role he is playing. "I play a hit man named Curtis Melms and he should be bringing a lot of trouble to the game. He's kind of like a Southern, scary, quiet killer. Definitely intimidating."
However bad guys and old friends are not the only people that Raylan will have to deal with when he returns home, he has an ex-wife, an ex-girlfriend and a estranged Father that he will have to confront. Natalie Zea plays Raylan's ex-wife Winona Hawkins and the actress gave us a sneak peek at her character. "She is living in Kentucky. We both made vows to get out of Kentucky and we both did, separately and know we're both back," she explained. "I'm married to the realtor, the guy that was supposed to sell Raylan and my house together so you do the math. Now we're sort of stuck with each other in the same small town." Zea went on to explain the relationship between her character and Olyphant's. "She's very respectful of his presence and making sure that there is a certain distance but there is a draw that they both have towards each other that at times is difficult to deny." Joelle Carter plays another woman from Raylan's past and the actress gave us the low down on her character. "My character is named Ava Crowder and she's one of the girls left behind. Raylan comes back to Kentucky to work, work out his demons and I think I'm the past that he doesn't mind remembering." "We always were attracted to each other and flirtatious in the past," she continued. "There's a chemistry there that is still there when he comes back and she has kind of in a way freed herself so she goes for it and they have fun, you know? In a way they are really good for each other and in other ways really bad so it's a good conflict to have on the show." Raylan will also be dealing with his father when he returns home played by Raymond J. Barry. Here is what the actor had to say about playing Raylan's dad. "It's a great character. He sells drugs and he has post-traumatic stress so he's charming but violent," Barry said. "He has a very contentious relationship with Raylan and it's just a great character. He beats people up and then he charms them. He's got a crazy, funny relationship with his wife and there is a southern accent."
Rounding out the cast is Erica Tazel and Jacob Pitts who play members of Raylan's new team. Tazel discussed her role. "I play Rachel Brooks who is a US Marshal and I work with Raylan, Timothy's character. My character is not the most levelheaded person in the world but she would never admit to that flaw. I think the addition of Raylan to the Lexington office definitely pulls a mirror up to Rachel where she has to look at herself and look at her weaknesses as a US Marshall." Actor Jacob Pitts filled us in on his role in the show. "I play Deputy Marshall Tim Gutterson who is a former Army Ranger, sniper and my Involvement so far this season is just to be a crack shot when they need one," the actor explained.
We asked Carter what it was like working opposite an actor as intense and accomplished as Olyphant. "Timothy is amazing and has really put a 100% of himself into the show. He is very dedicated to making it a great show." Searcy chimed in about working with the rest of the cast and crew on the show. "We have a great time, we really do. It's a talented bunch of people and the writing's good, it's so good. So everyday is a lot of fun. We get in there and really slug it out and we have the time to make sure everything is right and it's a lot of fun." Finally the actor finished by summing up his feelings about the show. "I think Justified is just a real high quality show in terms of the writing, the action and the quality of the actors. I think people will find them selves highly entertained by it. I really think it's a great show and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Justified premieres this Tuesday, March 16th on F/X.