One of the most popular shows on television right now is Justified, which is currently in the middle of airing its second season on FX. The series stars Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, an outlaw officer from Florida forced to relocate to his hometown in Kentucky. In the first season, Givens had to deal with his estranged father Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry), ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea), ex-love Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), and childhood friend-turned dangerous criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins).
The second season began where the first season left off, with Raylan tracking down Boyd and putting an end to his Miami problems. But with Boyd supposedly leaving his criminal life behind him, the Bennett crime family, who share a checkered past with Raylan, attempt to take over Harlan.
We recently had an opportunity to travel to the set of Justified, which is located in Santa Clarita, California. On this day, the crew was working on the final episode of the season entitled Bloody Harlan, which airs May 4th. While we were unable to speak to the star of the series Timothy Olyphant, we did have the opportunity to speak with several members of the cast including Walton Goggins and Joelle Carter, as well as new cast members Margo Martindale, Joseph Lyle Taylor, and Jeremy Davies, who play members of the Bennett clan. We also had a chance to watch some of the filming and even speak with a special surprise guest.
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First off, we had a chance to speak with celebrated actor Walton Goggins who plays the show's on-again-off-again antagonist Boyd Crowder. The actor had just finished blocking an upcoming scene with the episode's director Adam Arkin, and several members of the cast when he took time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.
We began by asking Walton Goggins about the path to redemption that his character is currently on and if he thinks it will last or not. "You know, I don't think that he's ever taken the time to be introspective, you know to self-reflect," the actor joked. "Last season was evidence of that. I think he started off in the pilot being one guy, and with that near death experience he went running in the opposite direction. Doing the same thing but finding God as a motivation for kind of repeating the same actions. I think it's only in the second season that Boyd, for the first time in his life, has looked at himself. Looked at kind of what fuels him as a human being, and looked at his faults as a person, and in some ways has spent forty days in the desert, you know. I think that he will emerge from this fully aware of who he is as a person. I think its at the end of episode three with the throwing of that guy out of the car, it was very cathartic for him. You know, he needed to grieve in that way, and it kind of manifested through this physical action of hurting another person unfortunately because I think he was so hurt."
It was set up at the beginning of the series that Boyd and Raylan have a very intimate relationship with each other and that relationship has evolved as the show has gone on. The actor elaborated on the relationship between his character and Raylan. "I think it would be hard for Rayland to exist without Boyd and Boyd certainly could not exist without Rayland. Especially in the dynamics of the show and the way that its been set up. For me what's so interesting is that it's about two guys from the same milieu who took two completely different paths. They're both very smart and Rayland is a very smart guy."
We followed up by asking Walton Goggins if he believes that the two characters are really just two different sides of the same coin. "I think so. The Producer, Graham Yost, likened it to Boyd being a dark mirror of Rayland. I think that's just simply because Boyd in some ways just didn't have the courage to leave, to get out and he certainly didn't have a role model kind of pushing him in that direction and Rayland did, you know with his aunt Helen," he explained. "In my imagination I think about if Boyd had gotten out, would he have wound up at film school? Would he be at NYU and if so, what kind of movie would Boyd make? So I like to think about it in those terms and whenever Rayland is together with Boyd what's so exiting about it to me is that it's an intellectual sparring. You know its conversations that center around ambiguity and you never really know what the other person means, but you get the feeling that Boyd and Rayland know exactly what the other person means."
By the end of the first season there seemed to be a trust beginning between Rayland and Boyd and we asked Walton Goggins if that is something that will continue to grow throughout the rest of the season. "Well you know its keep your friends close, and your enemy's closer. I think that there is a deep, deep bond between these two men and I think that below the surface there is a long lasting friendship. That's certainly what I base my imagination on. That these people are friends and that at the end of the day, you know, you could call me Rayland Givens and I'll be right there for you." We followed up by asking if he thinks that Boyd sees himself as the hero of his own story, like a modern day Robin Hood. "I think he was at a time. I think now he's writing a new chapter in his book and he doesn't necessarily believe the narrative that he's been writing up to this point. So I think it changes. I don't think the world, from Boyd's point of view, will revolve around him."
Since Walton Goggins is still to this day so widely associated with his character from The Shield, which aired on FX, we asked the actor if he had any concerns about returning to the network so soon after the finale of his former show. "I did, I had a lot of reticence to coming back because it was so close you know? In television years it was only I don't know maybe nine months between airings or showings, or maybe it was a year. I didn't want to sully my reputation with the FX audience and I didn't want to sully in my own mind the legacy that I feel that Shane has with fans. I am only saying this because of the fans that have approached me and have engaged in conversation about how they felt about him. I didn't want to kind of just shit on that. I didn't want to spoil that for them. I'm very respectful of the audience. It's a lot to ask a family or a person to let you into their home for an hour a week. I mean that's asking a lot."
We continued by asking the actor if he feels like there is a connection between his character from The Shield and his character on Justified. "No, I don't see a correlation at all. You know if Shane was funny it came from pessimism and it was by accident. With Boyd, when he's funny, he's purposefully funny and he has a very specific sense of humor. Shane was a very loyal person, but he, more often than not, showed up in the room thirty seconds too late, and he's just spending his time trying to play catch up. Whereas Boyd is so far ahead of the curve, he's architecting the room."
Finally, we asked Walton Goggins if he ever gets an opportunity to speak with writers on the show to discuss the future of his character. "Yeah, both Timothy Olyphant and I do. Timothy Olyphant has many conversations with the creators, about his story and then I kind of have autonomy with Boyd. We spend a lot of time talking about it. I mean upwards of twenty conversations sometimes. There's a scene that we're going to do tonight that's been rewritten ten different times. No ones ever right and no one's ever wrong. Everyone just wants to be as specific as possible based on the history of these two people. I think that we have something really good to work with tonight that will propel the story forward and will propel their relationship forward," the actor said in closing.
Next up, we had a chance to speak with actress Joelle Carter, who plays Boyd's sister-in-law Ava Crowder on the series. In the first season, Ava was involved in a relationship with Raylan after the death of her husband, but that has ended now that he has gotten back with his ex-wife Winona. With nowhere left to go, Ava has recently allowed her former brother-n-law, Boyd, to move in with her. We began by asking the actress if she was disappointed when Rayland ended his relationship with Ava. "Well he is the lead," she answered. "When you are in a relationship with the lead you know that you are going to get some screen time. I think there is a morning for that relationship and then happiness for what is coming for Eva. She knows that he's gone back to his ex-wife and she's definitely not happy about it. He broke her heart."
"She said if you want to come back into my life you can, let's talk about it and I'll think about kicking Boyd out," Joelle Carter continued. "I told him, my bedroom is upstairs, he thought about it for a minute and then he said he better not. So she says don't worry about what I do, I'm not going to worry about you. Again that is classic Ava. If he's not in her life she needs to continue hers. There is something there between them. But they are really taking care of me on this show so I am excited for the future for Ava." We followed up by asking the actress if she was concerned that after season one her storyline might come to an end. "I was wondering what might happen. They could have done more of a triangle I guess but I'm glad they didn't because it's kind of expected."
Joelle Carter went on to discuss working with the writers on the series. "Well I went in at the beginning of the season and asked the writers what is going on with Ava because it was pretty clear after the first couple of episodes that Raylan was going back with Winona. Then magically Boyd was living with me. We are kin; we are family so it makes sense," she assured us. "They reassured me that some good stuff is coming for Ava, a potential relationship, love, coming back to her home and being comfortable with that. Also for next season potentially or not, I'm not sure." We followed up by asking the actress if Boyd has forgiven her for killing his brother in season one. "He was never mad at me. Remember in the pilot he was like, I guess she's mine now basically. When we ended season one he did come and say that he was sorry for never trying to stop it," Joelle Carter answered.
In a way, Ava is a classic damsel in distress but she is a fighter too, so we asked the actress if the role is easier to play because she is such a strong character. "Yeah, I love that I can pull all the strength out of myself to be as strong as Ava. She chose life, potentially prison to stay alive because her husband was going to kill her. Now she's like, I'm here now and lets see what we can do." She also went on to discuss the pros and cons of playing a smoker on TV. "Well I'm not a real smoker as you can see because I'm not very good at it. I know this country and they smoke and they like it. These are real cigarettes because the fake ones mess me up more. I try to have someone else smoke half for me so I'm ready to go when we are filming," she joked.
The actress, who is from Georgia herself, discussed how well she feels the show depicts the south. "People think we really shoot in Kentucky! You don't know how many interviews I've done where people ask what it's like to shoot in Kentucky and I have to tell them that we shoot in California," the actress laughed. "There are a lot of stereotypes in all different regions even in just the US so I don't think anyone plays a character that is discriminating," she continued. "I love Ava. I love that she's a little simple, she lives in the moment and she doesn't really plan for the future. So I feel like I'm doing her justice. She's simple and she's not that educated but that is who she is. She is a great character."
Finally, we asked the actress how intricately the cast rehearses before they shoot each scene. "Sometimes more than others," she replied. "Like in the pilot in the scene with Timothy Olyphant in the kitchen, there was a ton of stuff that she was doing. It made sense because she was nervous, she wanted to tell the story, make sure he was okay, and she was being southern with hospitality by getting him a drink. With other scenes you just don't have a lot to do, you just have to stand there in the moment. So I think a scene is more interesting when it is moving, when a director puts a little more action in it. That always helps."
Veteran actress Margo Martindale joined the cast this season as the matriarch of the Bennett crime family, Mags Bennett. Margo Martindale has been working on stage and screen for over twenty years and has appeared on many popular television series and successful. But audiences probably know her best from her role as Hilary Swank's selfish mother in Clint Eastwood's Oscar winning film, Million Dollar Baby. We began by asking the actress if she was able to pull from any real life inspirations to create her character. "Well there was a woman who was the real woman, but I didn't know about her until once we were already in to it. Honestly I didn't know anything, so I was running by the seat of my pants," she explained.
We continued our conversation by asking Margo Martindale if she could tell us more about the real life woman that the character is based on. "The real woman this was based on was named Mags Bailey and she had a bunch of sons. She sent them all to law school, so she had lawyers surrounding her wherever she went. Her power was gigantic, but the intellect was really smart. My boys are a little more dim-witted than that," she laughed. We followed up by asking the actress if finding out about the real Mags changed her interpretation of the character at all. "I couldn't change once I started really, once I'd done that first scene, it was done. There wasn't a lot of playtime for where I could go. I kind of stayed in the same place. I don't know what I've done," joked the actress.
Margo Martindale's character has a very interesting connection to Raylan's past and we asked the actress what it has been like working with the show's star Timothy Olyphant. "He's been fabulous from day one when Joseph Lyle Taylor and I got here. Joseph Lyle Taylor and I had done a series before together so we knew each other. Timothy Olyphant said, come to my trailer and let's just read (the script). So we bounced it around. He was just open and welcoming from the very start. He's a worker, which is great. He's great to look at, which doesn't hurt," the actress added. She also discussed the episode's director Adam Arkin and what it has been like working with him. "Well, I've known Adam Arkin for years because he directed me on The Riches, another show I did for FX. So I knew Adam Arkin and he also directed episode one of this season, so it's been easy working with him."
The actress also went on to discuss her character's past with Raylan's father and how the two family's vicious feud began. "Originally, there was something in there that explained that when I was young I ran moonshine for Raylan's grandfather. So we made a lot of money. I'd go over to another county, outside of Lexington, and we made money doing that. So we were chums, but the feud didn't come back into big play until Arlo killed my husband," she revealed. Margo Martindale also went on to reveal that the tension between the two families would continue throughout the rest of the season and ultimately feature a confrontation between Mags and Arlo.
We continued by asking the actress if she had gone back and watched the first season on DVD to get a feel for the series before she took the role. "Yeah, I tried to watch as much as I could to see what the tone of the show was, to see where it should sit. I think I watched four episodes, and it blew me away it was just fantastic." We followed up by asking Margo Martindale if it is difficult to join an episodic series like this which is already in progress. "It would be difficult normally, I think, but most shows I've done I've only done the pilot. Dexter I did the pilot although I maybe came in six times but I was there at the very beginning. With Medium I was there at the very beginning but they got rid of me early. So I think jumping into a successful series is very hard."
Finally, since the character of Mags was established right away as a major player in the plot of the series, we asked Margo Martindale if that made it easier for her to join the show. "That does makes it easier. This is the truth: in show business there is a class system and you feel like you have to prove yourself. It depends on how they treat you. Not now in my career, but in the last ten years I've have to come in and say, I did so and so. But this was a situation where I was one of the big boys coming in," she explained. "It makes it much easier because if you get the job, they know what they're getting. So they chose me because they like what I do. When I read the first script for this season I said, I'll go wherever I have to go to audition for this. It was that good."
After speaking to Margo Martindale, we had an opportunity to watch the veteran actress at work in a scene with her character's two sons, Doyle and Dickie played by Joseph Lyle Taylor, and Jeremy Davies. The scene takes place outside of Dickie's house and features Mags and Doyle chewing out Dickie for something that he has done, which will undoubtedly anger Raylan. But Dickie informs his family that he is taking charge of the family business and assures them that he has a plan to avoid Raylan's wrath and throw him off their trail. The scene was intense and featured the three actors really going toe-to-toe with each other. The scene ended with Margo Martindale knocking the crap out of Jeremy Davies. We watched from behind the director's monitor as the crew shot this scene from several different angles.
After they were done shooting the scene we had an opportunity to speak with actor Joseph Lyle Taylor about his role on the show. The actor is quite a journeyman and has appeared on many different TV. On Justified the actor plays Doyle Bennett, Mags oldest son and a local police officer. He began by talking with us about his process as an actor coming on to an already established television series. "I come in ready to shoot it. I've got my plan and what I want to do. I mean I'm open enough to take in whatever the other actor is doing, Margo Martindale, Jeremy Davies and really just sort of live in the moment. But that's the thing about episodic television, you know that when you do a series like this, it's like I've got all the history."
Since Doyle is sort of torn between his duties as a law officer and his loyalty to his family we asked the actor how his character is balancing those two dynamics. "Well it is a balance you know? He's taken this job to permit his family to take the next step into whatever they're doing. He's got their back as it were, so yeah but I wouldn't call it a conflict, I would say more of a synchronicity." Finally, the actor discussed his character's relationship with his brothers. "You know it does seem like all of the brothers are very sort of separate in their lives. I think that we all have different fathers. That's what I think," explained Joseph Lyle Taylor. "I mean there is a certain blood love there but you know as far as getting into Dickie's business ... you know I'm not into Dickie's business. I do my own thing. I do whatever I've got to do to protect him. Whatever mom tells me to do ... her I listen to."
Next up, we spoke to actor Jeremy Davies about his role on the show. The actor recently joined the cast of Justified as Dickie Bennett, Mags' middle child who has a bit of a score to settle with Raylan. Dickie definitely seems to have some "mommy issues" in regards to dealing with Mags, but that is not a foreign characteristic to Davies, so we asked the actor what it is that he likes about playing characters that are controlled, to a certain degree, by their mothers. "I think Orson Welles said, you're the ornithologist and I'm the bird. I see the parallel that you're trying to draw there, but getting anywhere in this business is like winning the interplanetary lottery," he explained. "It's not a matter of me selecting these roles; it's just what comes down and generally in drama what it comes down to is parent issues."
We followed up by asking Jeremy Davies if there was any research in particular that he did that helped him prepare for this role. "No, I've been a fierce fan of Elmore Leonard's since I was born. That alone is fantastic, I feel like his DNA is deep inside me. I grew up without television, I guess that's blasphemous to say now, so I read far too much, and certainly revered Elmore Leonard for a long time. That certainly helped," the actor confessed. "I think what I'm getting at is I'm drawn to these great writers. I guess everybody is. There's something about Elmore Leonard. I don't know if you know but the writers were given bracelets by Graham Yost that say, what would Elmore Leonard Do? So you feel this frequency, there's something about those rhythms."
"I can't tell you the pleasure you get as an actor from really quality writing," Jeremy Davies continued. "Not just the particular words, but the architecture of the scenes, there's a point A, and a point B that you get to." We followed up by asking if the actor had to do any work to get the accent right or if it just came naturally. "I have actually lived in many different places growing up and I've gone all over the states, so I have a real mongrel quality. So I have this strange mix and it kind of comes easy."
We continued by asking Jeremy Davies if he went back and looked at the first season of the series to get a feel for the tone of the show. "Yeah, absolutely. I actually chased this down," the actor explained. "I sent word to Graham Yost through my manager after I saw the first season ... actually before it was even over. Because I'm a big believer in just supporting, having a supportive community in this business, which is so cutthroat and competitive. I know him, he knows people I know. I just sent word that it was an incredibly well made show, and I'd love to be a part of it if anything ever came up. I just wanted them to keep me in mind."
We then asked Jeremy Davies if there was one episode in particular that hooked him on the series. "I don't remember one in particular, because they're collectively all just consistent. This writing... I was just drawn to it because I grew up without TV and just read so much. If there is anything, if there is any pattern it's that I'm drawn to films and movies that feel a little more literary, even though they're completely different mediums, and the strength of a novel is completely different than the strength of a film."
Finally, since so many of the creators, writers, directors and actors on the series also have successful film careers, we asked Jeremy Davies if he feels that it ups the level and the quality of the series in comparison to other shows currently on television. "I think they are really fine and brilliant actors. Again, you can't control where you end up. Whether it raises your game by having experience in film ... I don't know? I think there is some TV, like Lost for example; it's a marathon, and so incredibly well written. There are a number of high quality shows on TV that can make you feel like you're on a film set."
As we were wrapping up our visit on the set we were introduced to a special surprise guest. We were extremely shocked to see actor David Munier, who played Johnny Crowder in season one of the series. As fans know, Johnny was supposedly killed last season, which is why we were so surprised to see the actor walking around on the set in character. The fate of Johnny Crowder was finally revealed to fans of the series last night in the tenth episode of Season 2 entitled Debts and Accounts.
We began by asking the actor if he is as surprised by his character's return as we are. "Actually I am," David Munier confessed. "Well they had talked to me about coming back, told me that I was going to live and that there were some story ideas. They pretty much went through their first season and at the end of the second season they called me back in. I'm not as nimble as I am right now but I won't tell you what happens," the actor cryptically stated. We continued by asking him which characters Johnny is spending time with now that he has returned. "I'm hanging out with Boyd a lot except for the Ava stuff. I have seen Ava but I have not seen Raylan. I didn't have the religious epiphany that Boyd had," he explained. "Where I want to go is maybe the opposite of Boyd, instead of finding Jesus I'm going to hangout on the opposite side of the fence for a while. I'm not a happy person," he concluded. Finally, we asked David Munier what kind of influence Johnny will have over his brother Boyd now that he has returned. "I don't know. I'm still trying to figure that out," he confessed.