The Hollywood Reporter: Your six-year run on FX’s The Shield ended in 2008. Did that help you get the Boyd Crowder role on Justified?
Walton Goggins: They came to me initially for one episode. Then, when the relationship between Boyd and Raylan Givens [Timothy Olyphant] was as dynamic as we’d hoped it would be, people wanted to see more. But when they talked about me joining the show in earnest, it was actually a really hard decision, quite honestly. I didn’t want in any way to stain the reputation of my Shield character. It’s a lot to ask someone to watch you on TV every single week, you know? But I felt like I really could contribute to this story, so with the second episode, I said to [Justified showrunner] Graham Yost, “I’m interested in setting up a dynamic where the person you thought you knew in episode one no longer exists in episode two.” I’m heavily involved with the story of Boyd Crowder and the way he sees the world. I’ve been invited to sit at that table in a real way, and I think that has a lot to do with my film background.
THR: So, is Boyd a good guy or a bad guy?
Goggins: Honestly, I try not to make that distinction too much and rather infuse the moments where Boyd does bad things with a morality. The audience may not agree with him, but at least they can understand him, and hopefully that generates an insane amount of sympathy. And the thing about Boyd, it’s gone beyond like, “I’m rooting for a bad guy,” to, “I just want to see what the f– this guy will do next.” You’re no longer rooting for a bad guy, you’re just watching — hopefully — the behavior. Then there are moments in the season-two finale where you saw Raylan, a United States marshal, essentially sanctioning the murder of another human being. While Boyd may seem on paper to be the antithesis of Raylan, he’s not. They’re two sides of the same coin.
THR: You’re from Georgia, and the show is set in Kentucky. Did you work with a dialect coach to make Boyd’s accent sound particular to that region?
Goggins: No, we actually don’t have dialogue coaches. I think because I come from the South, I understand the different cadences, and they vary wildly from Tennessee to Kentucky to Georgia to Alabama to Mississippi and all the way down the road. But Boyd is really an amalgamation of all of them, yet he’s none of them. His accent came out of the self-taught person he is; he isn’t influenced by things outside of his environment. It was only through his self-education that he started to form his love of words and his way of speaking. It really comes from his curiosity about things and about literature and life in general and a deep wanting and understanding of the world, and he hasn’t been able to access it other than through books. I think that has influenced the way that he speaks. He’s kind of from everywhere.