Capone talks THE CRAZIES and FX's 'Justified' with Timothy Olyphant!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
Timothy Olyphant has always struck me as a really good guy, in addition to being a solid and reliable actor. In the many interviews I've read with him, he never fails to tell it like it is, not in a defiant way, but in a very sincere and honest one. I remember seeing him for the first time in SCREAM 2, but it was in his turn in GO that he made his first real impression on me and many other moviegoers. After that, he was in a steady stream of film and television roles, and while not all of the projects were great, he always seem to rise above and made a name for himself in such works as GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS, ROCK STAR, DREAMCATCHER, and CATCH AND RELEASE. A lot of people know him as the porn producer villain in THE GIRL NEXT DOOR or as the baddie in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD or from one of his first leading roles in HITMAN.
But Olyphant sealed his leading-man status playing Sheriff Seth Bullock in the unbelievably awesome HBO series "Deadwood," a show that deserved at least one more season to really satisfy its voracious fan base. But in a weird way, leaving so many things hanging almost made the series better and eternal. Last year, he appeared as the two-faced new love interest for Rose Byrne in "Damages," and his new FX series "Justified" begins in March. He had a good-old time playing a bad boy in last year's A PERFECT GETAWAY, and is about to be seen playing yet another sheriff in the remake of George Romero's 1973 film THE CRAZIES, directed by Breck Eisner. The film is an excellent modernization of Romero's story, only really changing a few of the details in an effort to make the movie feel less dated. All of the paranoia, hatred of the government, and distrust of the military is left intact, and the result in a truly terrifying and suspenseful work.
I spoke briefly to Olyphant about his work in THE CRAZIES and "Justified," and while it wasn't a particularly long chat, we covered a lot of ground and he had much to say about both projects. Enjoy Timothy Olyphant…
Timothy Olyphant: What’s up?
Capone: Hey, how are you?
TO: I’m all right, thanks. How are you doing?
Capone: Good. So, I just saw the movie the other day, and it really took me by surprise how much I liked it and the approach you all took to retelling this story. I’ve got to say I was really impressed with it.
TO: Thanks. I appreciate hearing that. I question why you were so surprised by that, but I appreciate you saying that. [laughs]
Capone: I’ll tell you why. It was actually part of my first question. I love Romero’s original film, but I do consider it one of his lesser works, so the fact that it is being remade actually is okay with me. Normally, I’m not okay with some of the more classic genre films being remade, so I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest. It remains such a bleak movie, and it combines a lot of different genres, which I think is bold and ambitious and it works. What did you like about this particular story, and when you saw the original, did you think “We can improve upon that”?
TO: The answer to that last question there is no. I don’t tend to come at it that way, and I’m actually different than you, I’m not precious about remakes.
TO: I mean, I’m not a fan of them when they just do them as “Look, just throw that up there. That will work. There’s a story.” At the same time, I look at what they do in the theater and, you know, every four years you can find HAMLET in New York somewhere and everybody takes a different angle at it. And when it’s done well it’s like you are seeing it for the first time with fresh eyes and a different interpretation. Lord knows a ton of musicals and plays are constantly… I’ll go watch GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS over and over again, so I don’t care. I don’t care if somebody wants to retell me that story with a different cast or a different idea. I actually think that the thing that sucks about remakes is that people just don’t say, “Let’s just tell the fucking story and go for it.” Do you know what I mean?
TO: “Let’s not be trashy about it.” What I liked about this was any time you are going to do something like this that you say, “Okay, what is it about the first thing, what is it about the original story that’s worth telling? Everything else, who gives a shit? Tell our story.” I think that what I loved about this thing, this collaboration with Breck [Eisner] was that I felt like from day one, we were going to go for it. We were really going to commit to a story in a meaningful way. There’s just something fun about being involved in a movie that A) you think people are going to want to see and B) You think “We have an opportunity here to sneak some shit in.” It’s not just throw it up there and see if people show up for the first weekend. We had a blast. It was great to really commit to it.
Capone: I think it works as horror, as a mystery, as science fiction, and I’ll even throw in Western, since everyone in the movie seems to have a gun.
TO: How great are those shots of the sheriff walking down the middle of Main Street with the town deserted and he’s walking down… I mean, it looked like it was right out of a movie from the '40s, right?
Capone: Yeah, sure. I just thought it really combined those elements so well, and the way that Breck built the pressure and the suspense is mind blowing. Did you have a say in shaping the character that you play? What did you add to him?
TO: I say without hesitation “Yes,” but at the same time I want to say “Often times, I can be totally fucking delusional.” I thought, if my memory serves, I was very involved and very invested, and it was a real collaboration with Breck in terms of shaping this thing. He and I really locked ourselves in a room in Georgia for about 48 hours or 72 hours, and that’s after months of speaking and emails back and forth. We had an ongoing dialogue about this for a long time, and then we had a real tug of war right all the way up until the first day of shooting with really fleshing this thing out the whole way, scene by scene by scene. He was just wonderful in terms of allowing me to put my two cents in there. I turned 40 a year or two ago, and I just said "Fuck it." I kind of know going into these things at this point what I’m hoping to achieve here, and it’s really fun for me to go to work now and not just show up and ask, “What are my lines?” or “Where are my marks?” It was a lot of fun. It was really great making that thing and taking the character and working on that together with him.
Capone: It’s actually kind of rare that you get to play a flat-out good guy/hero type. Even when you play nicer guys, there’s always some added dimension that makes us maybe fearful of then. And along those same lines, you almost never play weak characters. You might play characters that have some weaknesses, but in terms of their overall demeanor, they are pretty strong guys. Is that intentional, or just the way that casting directors are looking at you?
TO: Well with the first part of what you said, if somebody told me “You are just going to play a good guy,” my first question is “Why? Where’s the fun in that?" It might be a fault; I just find my favorite performances growing up and my favorite thing is looking at the unpredictability of characters. “I know it’s the hero, but why am I having a hard time trusting him?” or “I know he’s a bad guy, but why do I like him so much?” I think that’s kind of where all of the fun is, you know?
At the same time, if it’s a really intense scene I ask myself , “How funny can it be at the same time?” and vice versa. It’s just what I’m always looking for, and I think I’ve been really lucky the last three or four jobs in a row here of being able to really go to work and really exercise that and only commit to those kinds of things and the characters I’ve been allowed to play like with this job, with PERFECT GETAWAY, with "Justified," a little film I did that went to Berlin, HIGH LIFE, and so I really had an opportunity to say “Okay, this is really allowing me some room to have fun with my job.” I've been really fortunate.
Capone: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about "Justified," because FX is certainly playing commercials for that pretty much nonstop at this point. I know the Elmore Leonard source material; can you tell me about the character that you are playing in that?
TO: Raylen Givins is a character that’s in two novels and one short story, on which the pilot is based. Elmore wrote just the greatest books and the greatest stories. I’ve really just had a ball. I’m really quite proud of the character and the work we’ve done on it.
Capone: I can’t wait to see it. You seem to give equal weight to TV and movie roles; you don’t think one is lesser or one is better. I saw you on "Damages," and obviously "Deadwood" is just one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen on TV, but you seem to weigh them both equally.
TO: I appreciate that. Well at this point in my career, arguably some of the best roles I’ve got my hands on are in television. Lord knows there’s plenty of crap on television if that’s what you are looking for. We’re not short changing the American viewing audience in that respect, but the stuff that’s really good on TV is the kind of work that… We just don’t make those kinds of movies anymore. I’m not moaning and pissing and whining, because I get to make great movies, but quite honestly, it’s just hard for me to get my hands on that kind of thing. This character in "Justified," when you see the pilot, if that were a film--I hate to say it--but I’m at the bottom of a long list to get my hands on that kind of a character, so it’s just an opportunity to take that kind of character and really look at it in such a deep meaningful way. That’s kind of the fun of that medium right now; that you can just follow these characters and let them sort of lead you.
The downside is it’s easy to complain that you never know what your next job is, but the fact is that’s part of the fun of the job. It never gets any better than when somebody says “You got the job” and that comes with not knowing what’s next. So the downside to TV and the payoff is that if it's a success, you could be doing it for a long time, and you want to make sure you don’t lose that enthusiasm and that thrill and that willingness to go for it season after season and not overstay your welcome, but I’ve been really lucky.
Like I said, the last four jobs have just been a joy. THE CRAZIES was right up there. It was just so fun to make this picture and be involved creatively with so many aspects of it. I’m just as proud of the character and the performance as I am of like…you know that scene of me sticking that knife through that chick’s neck? Those things that you see there were real collaborations between Breck and I, and I had just as much fun working on that stuff, because it’s such great drama and such great storytelling. It was just a kick to make.
Capone: Okay. One other film that I’ve been meaning to ask you about, in a couple of weeks I’m going down to SXSW, and I noticed you are in ELEKTRA LUXX, which is playing down there and I got to spend a lot of time with Sebastian [Gutierrez] and Carla [Gugino] last year when they brought WOMEN IN TROUBLE, so I’m genuinely looking forward to that movie. You weren’t in the first one, so who do you play in this one?
TO: Yeah, yeah. No, I’m in the sequel that they made before the first one came out, which I don’t know if it’s the smartest or stupidest thing that’s ever been done in town [laughs], but you know what I got a call from those guys. We had never met and had folks in common, and they asked if I would come in and shoot a couple of scenes. Really, I think I worked over a weekend and they gave me a free pair of shoes with it. But I mean if someone says, “Hey, what are you doing this weekend? You want to do a couple of scenes with Carla Gugino?” My typical answer is “Yes, I do want to do that and I am free.” I haven’t seen it, but they are just lovely people and really great. It was a wonderful cast and quite fun to make.
Capone: I loved the first one and I’m really looking forward to this one. Timothy thank you so much for talking to me.
TO: My pleasure. I’m glad you liked the movie. Tell your friends.
Capone: I truly did and I will. Thanks a lot.
TO: Take care.
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Feb. 22, 2010, 9:32 a.m. CST
Feb. 22, 2010, 9:37 a.m. CST
I like his work, even Hitman. Down with Obama.
Feb. 22, 2010, 9:37 a.m. CST
that was a brief conversation.
Feb. 22, 2010, 9:49 a.m. CST
One of the greatest TV roles of all time and it sounds like he has his head on straight. Good stuff.
Feb. 22, 2010, 9:56 a.m. CST
My most anticipated new shows based on commercials. Seth Bullock comes to the modern times. Epic. It's on FX, so I'm getting my hopes up too high...it could be crap. But they had The Shield and stuff...so it could be as good as it looks.
Feb. 22, 2010, 9:57 a.m. CST
It must feel like these actors/directors are talking to children when they talk to bloggers in interviews. I mean listen to how Capone talks in the interview. Cripes, embarrassing.
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:05 a.m. CST
Not a good name to be saddled with, sometimes- I speak from experience :/
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:08 a.m. CST
Could've sworn Orlando Bloom ran up his trunk.
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:18 a.m. CST
by Mr Soze
His fight with Swearingen is the greatest thing that ever was put on HBO.
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:37 a.m. CST
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:50 a.m. CST
I'm champing at the bit for both of these. That commercial with GOGGINS is sweet as fuck.<p>Fuck Milch in his stupid ass for screwing over Deadwood. FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED. He sucks cock by choice.
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:54 a.m. CST
... He is pretty cool (despite bein the worst ghostface killer) and he has the best intro in Girl Next Door... i say in a few years, he will be the white equivalent of Sammy J
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:56 a.m. CST
Elephant....Olyphant. Ooooh. I get it.
Feb. 22, 2010, 10:56 a.m. CST
His antagonist is the best, such a dick but its understandable...
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:01 a.m. CST
I've seen him in some real shit, but he's good even when the project isn't.
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:05 a.m. CST
The large creatures in LotR are called Oliphaunts. Geek test: passed.
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:09 a.m. CST
by dr sauch
Get a strong douche vibe.
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:10 a.m. CST
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:11 a.m. CST
Then again, The Falcon did do the Kessel Run in less than 12 Parsecs, so its all relative I guess. <p> Lord of The Rings isn't my area of geekspertise. I just remember them being Wooly Elephants.
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:13 a.m. CST
Wow, I didn't know we'd become such good friends, because if we had, you'd know that I give head before I give favors and I don't even give my best friends head so your chances of getting a favor are pretty fucking slim
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST
I'll take any - ANY - movie or tv show with Olyphant over anything by most of the bigger name actors currently fellated by Hollywood. He's got an intensity and real acting chops. The sooner someone gives him a serious scifi movie along the lines of Outland, or Moon, the better. The guy's awesome. Really, really stoked to see The Crazies. Oh and his role as Seth Bullock? Fucking amazing work. Takes a lot to steal a scene from Lovejoy himself but Tim did it, several times. His work is must see stuff for me.
Feb. 22, 2010, 12:32 p.m. CST
by Al Swearengen
You know, that Montana cocksucker spent some time wearing the tin in the camp of Deadwood. I got a mind to show interest in his fuckin' law abiding role in Justified. Insane fuckin' person though he may be.
Feb. 22, 2010, 12:55 p.m. CST
or Josh Duhamel is a poor man's Timothy Olyphant. Take your pick.
Feb. 22, 2010, 2:25 p.m. CST
please don't let him ever do bald again...watching Hitman was a fcking joke because he looked like a 3rd grade teacher who had shaved his head in solidarity with a student going through chemo. not badass at ALL.<p>so Timy O, keep the hair, and we're all on your side!
Feb. 22, 2010, 2:36 p.m. CST
I know that I am a minority of one, but I think that "Deadwood" ended at the right time. The adage "Always leave them wanting more" certainly applies to "Deadwood." I am looking forward to "Justified."
Feb. 22, 2010, 2:41 p.m. CST
Fuck any doubters...Hitman was righteous and gets better with each viewing. People can say what they want, but we all secretly hate (and respect) Tim for all the Olga Kurylenko gash he terrorized while on that set. Lucky bastard.
Feb. 22, 2010, 4:28 p.m. CST
Has FX EVER missed? Yeah, ok, there was "Dirt", but as far as badass shows, they're batting 100%. Putting Timmy and Walton Goggins in the same show as enemies has to be some of the most awesome casting ever.
Feb. 22, 2010, 4:51 p.m. CST
I've always liked Olypahnt but I was sort of on the fence about the Crazies even though I love apocalypse movies. This interview perked up my interest in it and Justified. Capone finally did me a solid.
Feb. 22, 2010, 4:53 p.m. CST
I think that anyone else playing Sheriff Bullock would have made him a good guy, but the way Olyphant played him was so much darker. He brought out the kind of anger that one would have to feel to be able to commit such incredible acts of violence so readily as did Sheriff Bullock. Olyphant's Bullock just seethed with anger. A very good performance and a worthy adversary to Swearingen.
Feb. 22, 2010, 5:40 p.m. CST
Al Swearengen as a pirate?! Awesome!
Feb. 22, 2010, 6:07 p.m. CST
by frank cotton
the opposite of 'max payne', which got the look right, but nothing else
Feb. 22, 2010, 6:07 p.m. CST
this is seth bullock you're talking about here, buddy. show some fucking respect.
Feb. 22, 2010, 6:24 p.m. CST
by Al Swearengen
Now that's a handsome fuckin' cocksucker.
Feb. 22, 2010, 6:33 p.m. CST
by dr sauch
"we all secretly hate (and respect) Tim for all the Olga Kurylenko gash he terrorized while on that set." Perhaps comment of the month? +1 internets.
Feb. 22, 2010, 7:45 p.m. CST
is that just wishful casting? well done.
Feb. 22, 2010, 8:40 p.m. CST
That one period in Deadwood, when he was acting as the go between for Hostetler and Steve the Drunk over the matter of the livery...I swear to God it was like his fucking head was going to explode in almost every scene. Great fucking work, man. Looking forward to both of these. On a side note, any of you Romero fans ever seen 'Martin'? Not saying it's perfect, but if you are a fan of his earlier stuff (There's Always Vanilla, Knightriders with a young Ed Harris and Tom Savini anyone?!) you will enjoy it!
Feb. 23, 2010, 3:05 a.m. CST
Fuck you. You are an asshole. It was a fine interview. Good work, Capone.
Feb. 23, 2010, 5:21 p.m. CST
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