According to Timothy Olyphant, the star of Justified, this is the essence of delivering a nuanced acting performance: "Whenever there's a scene that's really funny, you try to figure out how serious it can be," he says. "And when you've got a scene that's really serious, you try to figure out how funny it can be." Surely there's more to it than that. But Olyphant, in his fourth season as Raylan Givens, a buckaroo U.S. marshal working in the rural eastern Kentucky hill country, insists on marginalizing the craft that goes into his work. Olyphant claims the writers on Justified (which airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday on FX) work harder than he does. The directors work harder too, he says. So does the guy making sandwiches to feed the cast and crew. "I know how to pretend to do things," he says. Ah, but he pretends so well.
1 Elmore Leonard, the great crime novelist who created Raylan Givens, says you're exactly the Raylan he imagined. How does that make you feel?
It means a great deal to me. Elmore doesn't have to say that. And there's always a chance that he's saying it just to sell some books. But I'm going to take him at his word and I appreciate it greatly. We work really hard trying to honor the man as best we can. And it means a great deal to me that he seems happy with it.
2 You're a co-executive producer this year. How involved are you in plotting and planning the show?
In my mind, I'm doing everything. But in reality, I'm doing very, very little. What I'm guilty of doing, I'll come up with one idea, one moment, one line, something that leads to something, and then I sit back and say, "Look at that. Taking off the hat right there. That was my idea and it made the whole episode!" When in fact it's nothing.
3 There are no scenes with Walton Goggins (as the charismatic criminal Boyd Crowder) and you together in the initial episodes this season. What gives?
Stay tuned. You're not going to get through the season without them hooking up. What we didn't want to do was have the same scene over and over. We're doing our best to keep the story familiar yet unexpected. So when we sit down and try to concoct these things, we're looking for the unexpected. And hopefully we've got that this year.
4 Most of your co-stars have more pronounced Kentucky accents than you do. Care to explain?
I could say it's because my character left Harlan County at a fairly young age and then came back, so it's not as strong as somebody like Boyd, who has lived there his whole life and never left the county. But personally I think everyone else is doing it wrong and I'm doing it right and that's what you're picking up on. It's a very good group of actors on the show and I often say wonderful things about them. But sometimes they just inadvertently make me look bad by their own shortcomings.
5 How much longer do you think Justified will continue to run?
A couple of more weeks, at least.
-- David Martindale, Special to the Star-Telegram