The A.V. Club: You were originally supposed to die at the end of the Justified pilot. Was coming back to life complicated, in terms of other stuff you had going on?
Walton Goggins: I was doing a movie, Predators, and we had already left Hawaii when the show started, so I was able to fly back and forth and just be in town long enough to do a scene here or there. So that’s why, in season one, Boyd was just in every two episodes or one episode, and just kind of had a scene. So I was able to pop in and out.
At the time, I was actually under a contract to star in a show that my partner and I sold to AMC called Rectify, and that prevented me from signing on as a regular early on. Then we got the word, maybe episode nine of Justified, that Rectify wasn’t going to go full with AMC. [Justified] laid out the invitation to me, and I gratefully accepted it, because I was having so much fun. And as it turns out, my partner is doing Rectify for Sundance.
AVC: What was that experience like, to be so liked for season one, but also to be limited in how much you could be in it?
WG: It was so unexpected. I had no expectations for this experience, beyond the love of the word and the people I was working with. I didn’t think about it, because I didn’t have skin in the game. I didn’t have a stake in its longevity early on. The only thing I thought about, really, was getting to work with Tim [Olyphant, as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens] every day and loving it, and [writer-producer] Graham [Yost]. These scripts would come down, and we’d have conversations about them. To have access to work is one thing for an actor; to have access to good work is another thing, and this was good work. I came back in earnest around episode nine, and that’s when Boyd really took off—nine, 10, 11, 12, 13—those last four or five episodes was really when I was available, I was here. And Raylan and Boyd could begin their dance in earnest.
AVC: Especially in season two and three, you’re kind of in your own shadow-show within the show, where you’re doing your own thing and have your own plot. Can that be a little isolating, to be outside of the main storylines?
WG: Well, I think it is. I think those storylines run tandem. I think the same thing with The Shield, with all the different characters, from CC [CCH Pounder] to myself to… Every one of us would have our own story. And yet the strike team would have the procedural, or CC and Jay [Karnes] would have the procedural.
In this show, you have a crime on some level; it’s kind of solved every week. It’s not as clear-cut as The Shield, but that’s not why people watch this show. People watch this show to see the development of the characters. In my world, I feel like I’m participating in the ongoing story, and that’s something people really want to see. It’s not when Raylan is taking down a bad guy that people are interested in Raylan. It’s when he’s dealing with his ex-wife, or when he’s dealing with Boyd or Mags Bennett or Neal McDonough, because you know he’s going to get to deal with them again next week.
So I don’t know. In some ways, I quite liked being the satellite storyline, because I think that it’s in some ways purer. It’s not diluted with the need to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But it is ongoing in the beginning, middle, and end. It can last over 13 episodes. In some ways, I feel like we’re not even in the middle yet, and we’ve been going on now for 39 episodes, so far.
You can check out the interview in full over at AVClub.com