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'Justified' star Timothy Olyphant: Raylan doesn't talk about his feelings


February 21, 2012|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens doesn't shy away from killing people in FX's "Justified," but does it ever bother him?

"The answer is I have no idea," Timothy Olyphant, who plays Raylan, told me during a conference call Friday. "I just know that he does kill folks and he seems to be getting along nicely."

Olyphant later added that the reason he can't answer the question is because characters like Raylan "don’t talk about shit that much."

"I can speculate, but who really cares?" he said. "I mean, guys like this basically—they move on. What, are we going to sit and talk about our feelings? As soon as you start doing that you just betray the character and the tone of the show and the type of stories you're telling."

Olyphant did admit that Raylan surprised himself in the "Thick As Mud" episode when he shot a woman. The actor said Raylan shooting a woman is the equivalent to a man hitting a woman, which has happened more than a few times in "Justified."

"Guys, you just don’t do it. ... You could hit a couple dozen guys, but you hit one woman and you’re going to think about it and everyone’s going to talk about it," he said. "And I think it's kind of in the same ballpark."

Olyphant, who said he feels like he's starring in a comedy, answered more questions about Raylan, Boyd Crowder, Winona Hawkins and what might happen in upcoming episodes. Here are some excerpts.

In "Thick As Mud," Raylan seemed to surprise himself when he shot the nurse. Why? Is it just because he’s never shot a woman? And how will that affect him going forward?
I think that definitely played a part. Not to spoil upcoming episodes, but the fact is women aren’t often involved in crimes where they get shot by people in law enforcement. So law enforcement, you know, don’t have too many opportunities to shoot at women. So I think it’s a big deal. If you talk to cops it’s a big deal to shoot a woman. Really it’s essentially the equivalent of hitting a woman. Guys, you just don’t do it. And if it happens it’s quite the topic of conversation. You could hit a couple dozen guys, but you hit one woman and you’re going to think about it and everyone’s going to talk about it. And I think it’s kind of in the same ballpark.

This season is all about crossing lines. I am wondering if there’s a line that Raylan would never cross?
We’re going to try to find out. [Laughs.]

Speaking of the comedy in “Justified,” in the last episode when Raylan’s explaining to the other nurse about Dr. Blowjob in “Thick As Mud,” that hand gesture you did, was that kind of something you just threw in there?
I appreciate you noticing. It’s trying to have as much fun as we can on that set.

So did you just do that?
I don’t think that gets written, yes. Look, my head gets a little foggy. I can’t tell you who comes up with what day-to-day. And quite frankly, I’m guilty of having a—I don’t know who to blame for this, but I tend to take credit for everything unless it doesn’t work, and then I just point fingers.

But the fact is [our] set is a very collaborative set and we’ll take ideas from anyone and everyone within earshot of the set. There’s not a scene that’s being shot that, you know, there’s a director and there’s a writer and there’s other cast members and we turn these things around and look at them in every single direction and look for the opportunities. Oftentimes we’re writing on the spot.

As I recall it now, I think we had many gestures that we all discussed and tried to figure out which ones were too far and which ones were too inappropriate. And so I’m sure there are some pretty good dailies on that one.

The Boyd and Raylan scenes always are my favorites, when they are being very polite to each other and sort of gentlemanly, but still trying to get information from each other. I was wondering if they’re ever going to be able to sit down and have a drink without having an ulterior motive?
Well it’s a lovely thought. I don’t know if there’s much of a show there. You know what I mean? The nature of drama is conflict. And if there’s no conflict there’s no scene. I love working with him too, but as soon as they are in a position where they can go out and just have a drink and shoot the shit, I don’t think you have a show anymore.


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