Boyd Holbrook joins Timothy Olyphant in an exclusive interview to discuss all things Justified: City Primeval.
Watch new episodes of Justified: City Primeval Tuesdays on FX. Stream on Hulu.
This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Collider: I loved the original series and thought it ended perfectly. Because of that, when I heard this was happening, my first question was, why? Did you have the same reaction? Did you think you were done with this character, or were you open to bringing him back? What was it about this particular story that appealed to you?
TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: It depends on when we’re talking about. For a few years, I thought that was certainly it. But somewhere along the line that, time goes by and things change. I will say that, even when I talked to Graham [Yost] about feeling like we should wrap it up, I remember saying then, “If we want to entertain the idea of bringing the character back or the show back, every couple of years, then count me in.” I just thought, perhaps foolishly, that the nature of just trying to keep it going another season and trying to keep all those characters afloat was becoming taxing on where those characters would want to go. Rather than overstaying your welcome, it’s better to go out early. I’ll go watch James Bond every couple of years and see how he’s changed in the slightest way or adapted to a new time. That had great appeal.
Justified has had some of my favorite villains on television because the characters are always interesting and so layered, in so many ways. Was it fun to find that new dynamic and to explore the very odd situation that he finds himself in with Clement Mansell?
OLYPHANT: It felt, on one hand, very familiar and like our show. On the other hand, it felt like an entirely different animal. On one hand, it felt like it was a no-brainer. On the other hand, it felt like it could be a huge disaster. There’s always a fun place to work from.
Does Raylan feel like he knows who this guy is, or is he underestimating him?
OLYPHANT: Raylan is one of those guys who just loves the job and it probably keeps them from dealing with other stuff, so it really doesn’t matter, to some degree. It’s what he does. It’s what he’s comfortable with. It keeps him from dealing with the things that have become difficult.
Does having his daughter there and under threat really change things for him?
OLYPHANT: Yeah. Like with everything, you’re looking for the thing that makes it personal and that certainly ups the ante.
What was it like to be on set, exploring acting with your daughter, Vivian?
OLYPHANT: It was a total dream. It was wonderful, in many, many, many ways. Some of those ways were very unexpected. I just really enjoyed working with her.
Was there anything uniquely challenging about it?
OLYPHANT: Yeah, of course there is. You’re in the workplace and you’re a parent, and those things don’t always work well together. Sometimes, when in doubt, you’ve gotta choose to be the parent, and make sure that she’s okay, that she’s comfortable, and that she’s not overwhelmed. Those are things that come to mind, first and foremost. That atmosphere, as fun as it is, there’s a lot of pressure. Those are things I don’t consider that much, when I’m working with other people. Oftentimes, you fall prey to trying to get the scene, trying to get the shot, and trying to get what you want out of the actor. But when it’s your kid, you’re playing with a whole other deck.
Did you guys have conversations with each other about all of this before she took this on?
OLYPHANT: Well, my wife and I had those conversations first, before we even brought up the opportunity to her. We talked about, “Do we want to tell Vivian that there’s this opportunity that she might be able to do?” That was the first step. And then, when she and I both felt like it was a good idea, we brought it up to Viv and said, “There’s this opportunity, should you want to try to audition and get it.” You have a parental conversation because you’re saying, “It’s not gonna be up to me. It’s gonna be up to others. There’s a chance you don’t get it. There’s a good chance you don’t get it. I just wanna make sure you’re okay with that. I want you to entertain that possibility, before you say that you wanna do it. Once she auditioned, and it was a really good audition, then it started rolling. The guys and the network made the decision. I was not part of those conversations. I said, “I’m gonna tap out on these conversations and let you guys have them because it’s uncomfortable already.” Even when I brought up the idea that my daughter might audition for it, I said it out loud, at first, to them, before I even brought up to Vivian, to make sure it didn’t sound totally crazy, and let them digest it. Even though we weren’t face to face when I told them, I know there was a lot of, “Oh, shit,” and eye rolls out of everybody. And then, once she got the job, we’re talking about a kid who, at one stage in her life, begged to go to tennis camp, and then, the night before, refused to go. You can’t help but wonder, “Is that kid the one that’s gonna come out?” It’s such an odd position to be in. But it wasn’t like that. It was the opposite. She was so clearly in the right place, and she was a really hard worker. It was a joy to work with her.
Read more at Collider.
Timothy Olyphant talks JUSTIFIED, FULL CIRCLE, STAR WARS, & Quentin Tarantino:
This interview was conducted prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Collider: This is such a fascinating character study. It’s one of those projects where, as the audience, we start not knowing what’s going on or how any of the pieces, which really are these characters, fit with each other. How much did you know? How did you keep track of how it all fit together?
TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: I read all the scripts, before I even met Steven [Soderbergh] and Ed [Solomon]. I’d read all six, and I loved them. They were amazing. They were riveting and thrilling, and they were what people call page-turners, for every episode. After that, you dive in and start learning your lines and working the scenes, and you trust that it will all fit together. I don’t worry too much about that because that’s Steven’s problem.
With this being such dense material, do you just compartmentalize, as far as like your character and how he fits in, in any given moment?
OLYPHANT: Yeah, any conversations about the overall piece or scenes, for the most part, happened early. And then, maybe you address those conversations, once you have time, if you can find time while you’re in the midst of shooting. Sometimes Ed and I would get together and look at scenes, but it was based on our initial back and forth, from the jump. After that, you’re just playing the scene. That’s what I do. I don’t know about all the other people that do it other ways. All I know is that what I do is learn my lines and try to get out of my own way.
How does a Steven Soderbergh project work? When you’re working with somebody like that, who is also carrying the camera around and who seems to be a filmmaker who wants to be just in the middle of it, what’s that like to work with and interact with?
OLYPHANT: It’s wonderful. It just doesn’t get any better. You feel his energy, and you feel his interest. I worked with Walter Hill. He was one of those old school guys, who sits on an apple box right next to the lens, and I remember loving that. Any time you can connect to an audience, in this case it’s Steven because you can sense him right there, it’s wonderful. It’s like theater. The audience is telling you what the scene is. I much prefer that to the director behind the monitor watching the footage in another room. Even then, you can sense it, but this is wonderful.
Updated with full interview.
How much fun was this?
It was exactly that. I don’t want to speak for everybody, but I’m pretty sure all involved had a good time.
Does it come right back to you? Is it like an old pair of shoes or does it take some work to get back into that mode, into the voice, into the swagger?
You just put the shoes on and off you go. Put the shoes on. The hat still fits.
At the end of the original show, were you just done or were you still actively thinking, “Okay, well, if something comes along down the road, I’d be interested?” Did you have to be talked into it, I guess (is the question)?
My memory is, and I realize that’s not that reliable, but my memory is I said way back when that I’d be interested in coming back, getting the gang together again after some time. But that perhaps we needed some time just to free us up creatively.
I imagine it can be a mixed blessing to have something run so long and have the job be that chunk of your schedule, right?
It’s not just that. I think that the show is so much fun and creating these seasons back in the day, it’s a ridiculously difficult challenge for the writers and then at the same time just such a joy to do it. But in the end, I think that the nature of serial television is you feel beholden to things that creatively might not be what’s best. And just by taking a break, that alone just gives you some freedom to have some perspective to approach the work fresh. And in this case, since Graham (Yost) wasn’t going to come and write the show, the fact that (Dave) Andron and (Michael) Dinner took over, I think that break and that change to take the character to Detroit, it just took the shackles off. It just allowed them to make it their own. It gave them some freedom, and I think it made it exciting. Can we bring all these new characters in, do something totally different, and yet still have it feel like the show?
Does the limited series model open you up in terms of like, “Well, maybe we’ll come back in a couple of years?” As opposed to, okay, next season, next year, the next season, the next year. You’re a little freer with time. Is that part of the appeal?
Yeah, that’s what I was referring to, that I recall saying that years ago. That if they were interested in that kind of model, I think that’d be fun for everybody involved. I mean, it’s what they’ve been doing with that Bond character for half a century.
I was going to reference the old Murder She Wrote movies that would come back around. Bond is a bit of a cooler comp than Angela Lansbury for you, so I guess we’ll go with that one.
I’m an Angela Lansbury fan. That woman was money, so I appreciate that (comp).
Father Dowling Mysteries too.
I appreciate that as well. I’ll take all the cool old TV. I think Tom Selleck did it (make a series of TV movies) for a while.
I can’t remember what the name of it was, but yeah.
I’m going to go with Quigley.
I don’t think it’s Quigley Down Under, I don’t think that’s what we got as a movie-of-the-week every year or so. We should have. (Laughs) Oh, you know what? Jesse Stone? That’s it.
Oh, Jesse Stone. Okay, well, yeah, that has appeal to me (the limited series model).
When you came back to do the Deadwood movie, you were finishing up a series that didn’t have a proper ending. Justified did, though, and it was an ending everybody liked.
I know. If this one doesn’t work, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Had you ever expected to play Raylan Givens again?
I believe I’m on record as saying, before we wrapped the original show, that while I felt we should wrap the show, I reserve the right to come back later. I thought there might be something creatively beneficial to taking a break. I’d seen Bond movies, and I feel like the breaks served them well.
So how did this return come about?
The gang has stayed in touch. Both with Graham [Yost] and some of the other writers in the room, we’ve all remained in touch, as I’ve remained in touch with some of the folks at the network. Every cocktail had [someone asking], “What do you think? Should we do it?” But there was never enough there to jumpstart a serious conversation. But the book changed that. Elmore gave us a jumping-off point.
In the book, the Raymond Cruz character has a lot in common with Raylan. Both of them carry themselves like they’re modern gunslingers.
It just felt Justified-adjacent. I don’t think Elmore would take it personally if I said that some of his books, while totally different characters from totally different backgrounds, they’re essentially cut from the same cloth. I wasn’t even particular about City Primeval. I just thought if we could get an Elmore book that we could strip for parts, it might start a conversation. Graham was happy to be involved, but he didn’t want to write it. I think for years, we talked about, “You know, he’s a federal marshal, he can go anywhere.” We always had a fantasy about taking him on the road, taking him to places like Italy. I don’t know how Italy became Detroit.
Did it feel different to you playing Raylan again, versus playing Bullock again for Deadwood?
There were things about the Bullock, about the performance, I wanted to fiddle with. Because over that period of time, I wanted to think I’d gotten better at my job. It was an interesting challenge of, how can I make some adjustments but still honor the character? With this one, I felt, Well, I haven’t gotten any better since we wrapped. This should be pretty easy. [Laughs]
The stars of Max’s upcoming drama series ‘Full Circle’ including Zazie Beetz, Timothy Olyphant, Jharrel Jerome, Jim Gaffigan and CCH Pounder, dish about what made them want to join the thriller project, the complex characters, and what it was like working with Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh.
Via nytimes.com: By Jeremy Egner / Photos by Philip Cheung
“I like to think there’s been some growth.”
This was the actor Timothy Olyphant in New York last month, musing on the trajectory of his career from a TriBeCa sidewalk. He was referring specifically to the task of resurrecting past roles, which he first did a few years ago in the 2019 movie revival of “Deadwood.”
Now comes “Justified: City Primeval,” an eight-episode limited series premiering on July 18, on FX. It features Olyphant returning to what is arguably his signature character, Raylan Givens, the Stetson-sporting deputy U.S. Marshal who anchored the Kentucky crime drama “Justified” for six seasons.
The new show follows Raylan to Detroit for a fish-out-of-water adventure with a murderous baddie (Boyd Holbrook) and a sharp-elbowed but alluring lawyer, played by Aunjanue Ellis. The creators describe it as the existential evolution of a character, invented by the crime fiction grandmaster Elmore Leonard, who is starting to realize that he can’t chase killers forever and that he is running out of chances to connect with his teenage daughter.
“It’s a mature, grown-up version of the show that we did,” said Michael Dinner, who created the limited series with Dave Andron. Both are former writers and executive producers on “Justified,” which ended its run on FX in 2015.
The creators and Olyphant, who is also an executive producer on “City Primeval,” hope to bring back Raylan for at least one more series after this one. But first, they are going to find out if people are still interested in the character or “Justified” without the original show’s evocative backwoods setting and colorful criminals, played by the likes of Walton Goggins and Margo Martindale.
Read the full article at The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Via Collider: [Editor’s note: The following contains some spoilers for Daisy Jones & The Six.]
Collider: In doing a project like this, when you’re dealing with a book that people love and has this built-in fan base, does that become something of a bible for you, outside the script, or does it work better for you to look at things like bands and musicians, locations, and just this whole era?
TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: The book, for me, was just a great read. Even before getting all the scripts, it was just a cool book. It’s always nice when you read some material that’s really great, and then you think, “Oh, I might be able to be fit into this somehow.” After that, you let go of it, other than what you’ve sourced already, and it becomes a bit of a jumping off point. The nature of an adaptation means that you’re taking it in its own direction. I did read about a lot of tour managers. There have been some great ones, and there were some classic interviews. Both of my brothers have been in the business, and my older brother is still in the business. I’ve been around it a lot. Even though it’s a different decade, it’s more or less the same gig and the same struggles and the same heartaches. I was around it a lot.
I’ve loved music my whole life, I’ve been a concert photographer since I was 15, and I’ve worked directly with a lot of bands, and I’ve run into a lot of guys like your character. He just seemed so real and authentic, in a way that you could find him with any number of bands. even today.
OLYPHANT: It’s no different from being in show business. If you’re around enough First ADs, they start to narrow down to a type, to some degree. But that book was well-researched. (Author) Taylor [Jenkins Reid] knew what she was writing about, and (producer) Scott [Neustadter] is no dummy either. I was in really good hands. And then, you put on those outfits, and it’s easy after that.
Are you, personally, a music guy? Are you someone who has a connection to music, yourself? Are there bands that you’re a fan of, that you’ve been curious about the personal story of?
OLYPHANT: I love music. I haven’t thrown out my CD collection. It was a big deal, growing up with my brothers. It’s been a big deal, my whole life, seeing music, listening to music, and talking about music. I wish it was something that came easy to me. It’s not. I’ve learned things for work, but it’s just not my language. But I love being around music, of all kinds.
What do you think this guy saw in this band? This type of job is a bit like herding cats. It’s hard to keep track of rock stars. So, what do you think made this band worth it to him?
OLYPHANT: Well, it’s a good job. If that’s what you do for a living and if you can hook a big fish that’s gonna carry you for a while, that’s pretty huge. You’re so dependent on the band’s success to maintain your job, to be part of that family, and to not have to keep looking for other bands. Even in the show, it’s such a sought after gig. This band is blowing up, and he’s pretty sure that there’s not gonna be any band that’s that successful, that’s gonna be easy. You know what you’re getting into.
Because of the structure of the storytelling of this, we’re experiencing this story in its wildest moments, but also through reflection with each of these characters. What was it like to build your character in that way?
OLYPHANT: We talked about where we wanted to see him go, and gave some hint of that. A lot of it was in the book already. A lot of it was just about how you wanna look. I don’t know what those other actors are telling you, but the fact is that most of us spend our time thinking about how we’re gonna look.
Read more at Collider.