Timothy Olyphant talks JUSTIFIED, FULL CIRCLE, STAR WARS, & Quentin Tarantino:
Timothy Olyphant, Vivian Olyphant and Boyd Holbrook sit down for an exclusive interview in the form of a Givens-style interrogation.
Watch new episodes of Justified: City Primeval Tuesdays on FX. Stream on Hulu.
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).