Speakeasy caught up with Olyphant via telephone to discuss the release of “Justified” Season One on Blu-ray. In addition to describing his approach to playing Raylan Givens, he offered some insights into his ongoing creative process, and revealed a few secrets about what’s to come in his career.

After doing “Deadwood,” what trepidations if any did you have about doing a Western?

I feel like it’s just looser hat. There’s very little these two characters have in common. So when this came up, there’s always trepidation to television in general because you’re committing to so many unknowns, as opposed to a film script where you more or less have an understanding what the story is and where it goes and how it ends. So there’s that, but Elmore [Leonard]’s books and his writing in general, I’m such a fan; I always thought, God, if I could get my hands on an Elmore Leonard piece it would just be fun, it would just be a kick to do. And Graham [Yost] was a smart guy and he and I had a lot of conversations, and it just felt like I couldn’t find a reason not to do it.

In the first episode, Natalie’s character says you’re the angriest man she’s ever met. How much can a description by another character help you understand your own?

Well, I believe in the script, so all I take away from that plain and simple is that she thinks he’s the angriest guy in the world. It’s all that moment is, and the end of the day, it’s a great moment, and it was Graham’s idea and I think a wonderful contribution to the beginning of our story and certainly as audience members, it’s intriguing. It’s got a history, but to me all I know is what’s on the page, so we have a great deal of conversation and dialogue and back and forth from that point forward, Graham and I. But as far as that moment, it’s just that – his ex-wife thinks he’s the angriest guy she ever met. But the next moment could be like, she’s crazy. I mean, in episode two we could decide that lady is off her rocker and just move on.

But that’s the fun of the medium. And what I found really compelling and really fun to play with and just keep kind of digging around with is a guy who tells one person you don’t come in unless they invite you, but that same guy will kick down the door, go in there and tell someone he’s got 24 hours to get out of town or he’ll kill him. That to me is interesting. A guy when a gun is pointed at him will say, now, let’s just think this through here – if I pull out my gun I’m going to pull it to kill you. But when that same guy says something rude, he grabs him by the back of the head and puts his face into the steering wheel. That I find endlessly entertaining and fun – it’s just a great starting point.

Because of the time commitment of doing a television series, how difficult then is it to sort of juggle other opportunities? For example, there are rumors online the possibility of you doing this “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” movie.

Oh! I’m so glad you asked about the “Abraham Lincoln” role. I got the part, and now I’m just being fitted for the hat (laughs).


I’m trying to know if I should retract that, or if I should just let you go with it. No, I’m not going to do that movie. But you’ve got to love the internet – it’s got to make your job tough.

Yes it does, quite frankly. But are you interested in continuing to explore other opportunities, or is it better just to focus on the thing that you’re doing right now?

It’s two-fold. I mean, the fact is we’re on Episode eight of 13, and I really can’t find the time to fit anything else in. I find time to fit in my personal life and I still see my share of ESPN, but in terms of the big picture – in terms of the things I like to do and the things I look forward to doing – I love this job.


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