Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, left) and Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant)… (FX )
Walton Goggins would never say the relationship between his "Justified" character, Boyd Crowder, and Timothy Olyphant's U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens fuels the hit FX series.
"That's an interesting question," he told me last week. "That would be real tough for me to answer and to do it with humility because ... I wouldn't want to come off as arrogant by pretending to know the answer to that question.
"But I certainly hope so. I think you have these two men who are very similar, yet they're very, very different and at the end of the day people enjoy when they meet."
Then he put me on the spot: "What do you think?"
The answer, for me, is a resounding yes. No matter how many villains you line up against Raylan, Boyd remains the sharpest thorn in his side—and the most compelling reason to watch.
An early scene in the Season 3 premiere (9 p.m. Jan. 17, FX; 4 stars) backs up my theory. Raylan has called Boyd into the marshals’ office to ask if Boyd took the marijuana stash that belonged to dearly departed criminal matriarch Mags Bennett, but Boyd is being cagey as ever. The conversation drips with country-fried courteousness as each tries to learn what the other knows.
Their complex relationship is built on mutual respect and a little bit of love, but also on distrust and skepticism. Boyd and Raylan are old friends, of course, but they’re also on opposite sides of the law. You really couldn’t say that one is good and the other evil, because they’ve both done heroic and reprehensible things. (And continue to do so this season.)
That murky morality smothers the world of “Justified.”
Goggins, who earned an Emmy nomination last year for playing Boyd, talked more about Season 3, Boyd's new swagger and how he just celebrated his son’s first birthday.
Last year when we talked your son had just been born. Did he turn 1 yet? (See interview here)
January 1st. And we made it! Hot damn, I haven’t been as proud of anything I've ever done in my life man.
Congrats. When talked you said that Boyd sees himself for the first time last season. I was wondering what you think he saw and how he sees himself now.
I think he sees himself for really who he is and I think last season for Boyd was about coming to terms with who he is and being OK with that regardless of where the chips may fall. “This is who I am.” That’s a real journey for an actor to be able to participate in a character’s life who is in transition and arrives to a place where he’s comfortable. It was a difficult road for him to get there. I think it’s the first time he’s ever experienced that in his life.
Boyd has a great speech I think in the “Devil You Know” episode where he’s talking to Devil and he says, “Which Boyd Crowder am I being asked to follow?” And Boyd says, “What if I told you I was the man who recruited you in that church and I also told you I was the man who got shot, who found God, who betrayed his father and I was the man who killed men and gotten a whole bunch of men killed.” And he says, “I can’t discard my past anymore than these tattoos.” Does he see himself as all those things?
I don’t think that he is always so truthful with himself and that was a very truthful moment. It’s rare that you get to glimpse that with Boyd, that kind of honesty. I think that the roadmap of his life is tattooed on his body—from the swastika to the JC [Jesus Christ], which is above the bullet hole. I think he’s come to terms with all of it and it’s like, “Well, I can’t run from that past, but I'm not that person anymore, and that helped me get to where I am.”
I think that’s the evolution of humanity. We can only transcend by truly coming to terms with where we come from. That’s what I felt Boyd was saying in that moment. He’s not saying I'm a racist or I'm a born-again Christian. He is saying I'm all of it, everything; I've worn all of those coats to get to this moment right here just to shed them.
You ask some deep questions man. This may require a glass of wine.
That’s what I need watching the show! So this season he is sort of getting the gang back together; he has some real goals.
He has some recruiting to do. Don’t you think? [Laughs.] I mean his band of outlaws is pretty thin, but I think that for Boyd this season is about putting in a foundation and finding that cornerstone on which to build his empire. Hopefully once he gets to his empire it will be earned and not something that comes easy. He’s starting from the ground up and he’s a CEO of a criminal corporation and he’s never been that as a real leader, a real player before. So his attitude has changed, his behavior changes. Everything changes. He has his swagger back, but it’s a different swagger.