Timothy Olyphant Is Back for a New Chapter of ‘Justified’

“I think there has been some growth.”

This is actor Timothy Olyphant, who was pondering his career trajectory from the sidewalks of Tribeca in New York City last month. He specifically mentions his work in reviving his past roles, first doing so several years ago for the 2019 film revival of Deadwood.

Now it’s time for the 8-episode limited series Justified: City Primeval, which premieres on FX on July 18th. The film sees Olyphant returning to perhaps his signature character, Stetson’s sports sheriff’s deputy Raylan Givens, who anchored the Kentucky crime drama Justified for six seasons. is

In the new show, Raylan travels to Detroit for a fish-out-of-water adventure with a murderous villain (Boyd Holbrook) and a sharp-tongued but charming lawyer played by Aunjanue Ellis. The creators describe it as an existential evolution of a character invented by crime master Elmore Leonard. Leonard is beginning to realize that he can’t chase a killer forever, and that the opportunity to bond with his teenage daughter is running out.

“This is a mature, grown-up version of the show that we did,” said Michael Dinner, who created the limited series with Dave Andron. Both are former writers and executive producers of Justified, which ended on FX in 2015.

The creators and Oliphant, who is also the executive producer of “City Primeval,” want to bring back Raylan in at least one more series after this one. But first, we’ll see if people are still interested in the characters and the “justification” without the original show’s evocative backwoods setting and colorful criminals played by the likes of Walton Goggins and Margo Martindale. intend.

“I salute the original cast that I loved, adored and missed, but it was a really fun experience to be with all the new cast members, but it still felt like we were doing our own show. I did,” Oliphant said. “This feels right in the sweet spot, but I don’t know. It could totally fail.”

If he doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the possibility of tarnishing the legacy of his most famous work, this is partly the effect of his emotions. In conversation, Olyphant is an easy-going, witty figure who brings to his work a quality that betrays the tremendous intensity that is another of his characteristics.

The combination proved perfect for the dark, comical and morally ambiguous world of “Justified.” Olyphant’s performance in the series turned his hitherto haphazard career into a higher gear, and as a result, his future prospects depended less on the success of the “Justified” revival. .

Coincidentally, Olyphant is in New York for a screening of another twisted crime thriller, Full Circle. There, he plays a secretive Manhattanite who marries into a wealthy family of celebrity chefs played by Dennis Quaid. (Other cast members include Claire Danes, Jarrel Jerome, and CCH Pounder.) Premiering on Thursdays on Max, this gripping six-episode series has received international acclaim for its failed kidnapping. revolve around events.

“Full Circle” was directed by Steven Soderbergh, the latest addition to the list of talented people Olyphant wanted to work with for years. Others include director Quentin Tarantino, who cast Olyphant as 1960s TV cowboy James Stacy in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), and a wounded star in Amsterdam (2022). Another director, David O. Russell, hired Olyphant to play a thug. Kenneth Lonergan put him at the center of his acclaimed play Hold on to Me Darling (2016).

“You could put Larry David on the list,” Olyphant said of playing the witty groom in 2020’s Keep Your Enthusiasm. I show up at that person’s place every day. “

He also had brief appearances as a Star Wars law officer in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, and a long-term role as a Mormon U.S. Marshal in Fargo. He played a zombie husband in the horror comedy Santa Clarita Diet and himself in two different sitcoms, The Good Place and The Grinder. Earlier this year, he had a memorable role as a grizzled tour manager with bad hair in Daisy Jones and the Six.

Director Soderbergh said he had wanted to cast Oliphant for years and described him as “the best example of an experienced professional who can give you anything you want.”

“That’s the best thing I can say about someone,” he added.

In the afternoon after a screening of “Full Circle,” Olyphant reclined in a metal chair outside the Tribeca Cafe and marveled at the company he’s been keeping up with lately.

“To be with Steven Soderbergh last night, to see what he’s made, and to be a part of it, just means the world,” he said. “I don’t know why it took me so long to get there, but I’m really happy to be here now.”

Olyphant, now 55, has an athletic build, but his hair has turned almost gray after just finishing a swim on the asphalt greens of Battery Park. As he revived his old role, he entered a new phase in his life. His three children with his wife of more than 30 years, Alexis Neef, grew up, one of whom followed his father into show business as well as entertainment. . The world of “justice”. Vivian Olyphant will play Raylan’s daughter Willa in the revival. “You can’t beat nepotism,” he declared.

Olyphant wasn’t sure if he would reprise his role as Sheriff Seth Bullock in Deadwood. (Brock got a promotion on the film, adding another Marshal to Oliphant’s resume.) But once he was on set, he realized just how much the show meant to him. It also gave him one last chance to work with David Milch, one of television’s great screenwriters whom Oliphant dearly admires. (Mirch has since been admitted to a nursing home for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.)

“I don’t know what I was so scared of,” he said. “It was a very moving event for everyone involved.”

But Olyphant always knew he’d play Raylan again someday. “He seemed like the kind of character that would do fine with age,” he said.

The new series updates one of Leonard’s best-loved books, the 1980 novel City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit. Raylan joins the Detroit Police Department on a case involving a string of murders, an aspiring singer psychopath, an Albanian gangster, a corrupt cop and a corrupt judge, but he’s often seen as a strange man on his own show. .

“I think they wanted that clash, so they sent him to one of the blackest cities in the country,” said Ellis, who plays the story’s central defense attorney. Other stars include Victor Williams, Bondi Curtis Hall, Marin Ireland and more.

During the original broadcast of Justified, Olyphant, sometimes known as a demanding Leonard purist, insisted that the show stay true to its author’s dry wit and snarky emotional complexity. It hasn’t changed. Ellis said Oliphant carried a battered copy of City Primeval “like a bible” on set. However, Oliphant suggested that the terms of the deal have evolved.

“Working with the writers was a lot of fun,” he said. “Except this time they picked up where they left off. No one was throwing things. They were all used to me [expletive](“He was a great collaborator,” said Dinner, who also directed multiple episodes.)

Every production has its ups and downs, but this show was more extreme than the others. In her Plus column, Olyphant described working with her daughter, who is studying acting at The New School in New York, as “one of the best experiences of my adult life.”

“Walking the line between trying to grab a scene and trying to be a parent is very special and rewarding,” he said. (“He definitely gave me a lot of notes,” said Vivian, 20. “But in between takes, we had a lot of fun.”)

It wasn’t all that great, but the cast and crew were in the middle of a real shootout on a night when the show, which was filmed primarily in Chicago, was filming in a park. They all jumped out for cover as two cars drove down the street towards them, exchanging splashes of automatic fire.

“I heard a bullet kicking the rear bumper of the car in front of me. No one was hurt during the production, but everyone was shaken.

“I really feel sorry for the people who live in that area because it’s just not a way of life,” he said.

So has Raylan aged well? Is there growth? Viewers should draw their own conclusions.

“The road in front of him is much shorter than the road behind him,” Dinner said. “By the end of the story, we bring him to a place where he makes some decisions about his life.”

Olyphant’s path has also been shortened, but the trade-off, he says, is that “the game is simpler.” “I know it’s a joke, but I’m just getting over it.” Whatever his tendency to downplay his work, his co-stars say his enthusiasm for it is evident.

“He’s obviously very experienced now,” Danes said. “But I still feel dizzy and exploring. It’s great.”

Oliphant is inspired by examples from those with even more experience that growth can be its own reward. Co-stars like Quaid “seem to have even more fun than I do,” he said.

“So if they catch me and keep inviting me to dance, I think I’ll keep attending,” he said.

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