Right after he ends his run as deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens in the FX series Justified, Timothy Olyphant will join Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley in the feature film about Edward Snowden that Oliver Stone is prepping in Munich. Ink isn’t dry on the deal, but he’s negotiating, and this is a strong next step for Olyphant after he told reporters at TCA last month that he needed a job after the completion of the sixth and final season of the drama based on the Elmore Leonard-created character. Open Road Films and Endgame Entertainment are partnered on the U.S. release of the Snowden film.
Olyphant will play a CIA agent who befriended Snowden before the latter fled to Russia seeking asylum after making public more classified documents than anyone since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Stone and producing partner Moritz Borman have chosen a subject that continues to be hot-button stuff; the documentary Citizenfour is up for an Oscar this weekend. Borman is producing the film with Eric Kopeloff.
Stone based his script on a number of sources that include the novel Time Of The Octopus by Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena. That is the basis for the story of an American whistleblower who heads to Russia and the back and forth between the leaker and his lawyer as he waits while that country considers his request for asylum. Stone and Borman also bought the screen rights to The Snowden Files: The Inside Story Of The World’s Most Wanted Man, a book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding that’s published by Guardian Faber.
After six seasons, Timothy Olyphant is wrapping his Emmy-nominated run as lawman Raylan Givens on FX’s hit series “Justified.” But he was on the other side of the law (20-year-old spoiler alert) when he was cast in director Wes Craven’s “Scream 2.” “I appreciate the trip down memory lane,” he said of revisiting his first Variety mention.
How did you land the role in “Scream 2”?
I auditioned — multiple times. Why wouldn’t I want to be in “Scream”? I wanted to be in the first one.
What was the mood like on set?
It was quite a buzz being on a set like that. One could make a good argument that Wes was one of the best directors I’ve ever worked for. Not a bad way to get started early.
What would you do differently if you could go back to that time?
That’s a long list. I stepped in it many times back then. I was just a fool. There were plenty of apologies at that stage of my career, I’m sure.
You’ve had some memorable roles. Which have been your favorites?
That “Scream” role was quite a gift. I had virtually nothing on my resume at that point. I’m sure some of it was made up. That was a leap of faith they all took. I’m very appreciative of them being willing to take that risk.
Timothy is grateful that “Justified” had such a great cast, with one glaring exception.
“Six seasons and a movie? Is that a thing?” asks Timothy Olyphant, and if you listen closely, you can hear the slightest trace of a Southern drawl on that last word. “Man, I wouldn’t even know how that would work. But I do like the sound of it.” The 46-year-old actor was born in Honolulu, raised in Northern California’s Central Valley and went to college at USC in Los Angeles; it’s the voice of a certain laconic lawman from Kentucky, however, that seems to keep making cameos over the phone line.
For five seasons, Olyphant’s Raylan Givens, the U.S. Marshal at the center of FX’s Justified, has used his lightning-fast draw, his John Wayne-like strut and a certain down-home cockiness to take on white supremacists, corrupt cops, moonshiners, the Dixie mafia and the cunning backwoods con man Boyd Crowder (memorably played by The Shield’s Walton Goggins). At this point, the rangy TV star has contributed as much to the DNA of the character as Elmore Leonard, the famously prolific author who created Givens in 1993 (he appears in the book Pronto) and whose 2001 novella Fire in the Hole formed the overall basis for the series. Now, as the show begins its sixth and final season tomorrow night at 10pm EST, Olyphant is preparing his long goodbye to Raylan. And despite the fact that, as a co-executive producer, he had a hand in pulling the plug on the popular crime drama and claims that he “doesn’t particularly like” the character, the actor is still having a hard time letting go. “I honestly don’t know whose dumb idea it was to end this show,” he jokes. “He should be fucking fired.”
Olyphant took a break from filming the final round of Justified episodes to talk briefly about wrapping things up, getting to know Leonard before the writer’s passing in 2013 and why someone needs to cast Emmy-winner Margo Martindale as a supervillain as soon as possible.
What prompted you and [showrunner] Graham Yost to end the show after six seasons?
It was just a mutual decision to go out now…it seemed like the right time. Although we’re coming down to shooting the final four episodes now, and I’m having a lot of fun. I can’t imagine that I did something as stupid as saying we should stop [laughs].
So are you going to miss Raylan?
I know what you mean by that question, but…no. I mean, I realize this was a great part to play, and I’ll miss working with these guys a lot. But I had some problems with Raylan. I’m not so sure he’s a great guy.
Really? He’s got some baggage, certainly — and he does shoot someone in cold blood in the very first scene of the series…
Yeah, exactly! And the way he presents this situation, Raylan makes it seem on the up and up: “I don’t know what the trouble is here. He had a gun. There was no way he wasn’t gonna have a gun. He wouldn’t have been there if he didn’t want to shoot me. I did warn him.” There’s also a sense that this is no big deal for him, you know…”Why is everyone getting their panties in a bunch about this? The guy was a criminal.” I’ve thought long and hard about this, and that’s not how you want law-enforcement officers to behave. I think people would have thought it was just God-awful and be troubled and offended by it, but people seem to love him. They think he’s awesome.
Why do you think people love him so much? The sort of old-fashioned “yes, ma’am” attitude? The whole Western-hero throwback thing?
Maybe all that. Mostly because he’s just a good, well-written character, which is more because of Elmore Leonard than me. When people tell me they like Raylan, I just say “thank you very much.” I honestly do appreciate the compliment. Just because I think he’s kind of an asshole doesn’t mean they have to think that too [laughs].
What sort of feedback have you had from actual U.S. marshals?
When I started visiting a bunch of U.S. Marshals before the show started in order to get a feel of how a marshal carries themselves, what a regular work day is like for them, etc., I noticed one thing: Every one of their offices had a poster of The Fugitive up on the wall. Every single one. It’s The Fugitive and old Westerns — they love those movies. The last time I was in a Marshals’ office, they had a poster of Justified up. I asked them, “Did you know I was coming by, so you put up a poster of the show?” And they said, “Oh, we all love it…you guys make us look good.” I thought, this is great. If they like, we really did something here. [Pause] Keep in mind I am the star of the show, so people have a tendency to be very polite to me. [Laughs]
You got to know Leonard fairly well before he passed away, right? Do you feel like spending a lot of time with him helped you get a sense of who Raylan was?
All the good things about Raylan — they came directly from Elmore. You mentioned the old-fashioned manners and the stoic hero thing, but the thing about Raylan that people really responded to, if I had to guess, was that he seemed effortlessly cool. And that’s Elmore Leonard to a tee. The guy was genuinely cool. It was never a pose with him. You can go into any party or public gathering, and you’ll see lots of people trying to act cool, and then there’s always one person off in the corner, not doing much, who’s the real deal. That was Elmore.
Read the full interview here: http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/features/timothy-olyphant-end-of-justified-20150119#ixzz3PJUGGpnw
The producers of “Justified” are now working on episode 10 — three episodes ahead of the series finale — and admitted they’re still figuring out their plans for that final installment.
“We absolutely don’t know how this is going to end yet,” executive producer Graham Yost told reporters at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena on Sunday.
“We’ve all been talking about the ending,” he said, adding that it’s been an ongoing conversation since season three. “It changes every year.”
Yost said they decided to end the series now rather than “outstay their welcome.”
Series star Timothy Olyphant, who also serves as an executive producer on the FX drama, said he enjoyed going into this season with a planned finale. “It was nice to know the end is coming,” he said. “That’s been lovely, to see the finish line.”
That said, he joked frequently about looking for work after five seasons. “All I’m prepared for is I’m going to be unemployed in a few weeks, I’m going to have to say yes to some s–ty a– f–ing jobs,” he said.
The cast and creators were mum on details about the finale, which sets up a final showdown between Olyphant’s Raylan Givens and Walton Goggin’s Boyd Crowder.
All Olyphant would reveal was “It’s going to be sad.”
Executive producer/writer Graham Yost, executive producer Fred Golan, actors Timothy Olyphant, Joelle Carter, Nick Searcy, Erica Tazel, Jacob Pitts, Jere Burns, Mary Steenburgen and Sam Elliott speak onstage during the ‘Justified’ panel discussion at the FX Networks portion of the Television Critics Association press tour at Langham Hotel on January 18, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
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