Walton Goggins, Justified
Justified's church-bombing white supremacist Boyd Crowder is a ball of psychopathic menace brought brilliantly to life by Walton Goggins. But that almost didn't happen.
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"I said no," Goggins tells TVGuide.com. "I wanted to be very careful about how I was seen on FX again. And I did not want to perpetuate a Southern stereotype. ... I said, 'I want this guy to be one of the smartest guys in the room.'"
That was certainly never true of Detective Shane Vendrell, the character Goggins so memorably played on FX's The Shield. "Boyd Crowder is much smarter than Shane — Boyd's IQ is off the chart," Goggins says. "Boyd is an instigator. He doesn't react to things; he is in control of things. Whereas Shane was constantly coming into the room 30 seconds too late, and spent his life in reaction."
Once Goggins agreed to shoot the pilot, another obstacle arose: His character was supposed to die in the standoff between Boyd and U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). Test audiences for the pilot were intrigued by Goggins' character, however, and creator and executive producer Graham Yost made changes to keep Boyd on the show.
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"Walt Goggins is too talented and [it's] too fun a character for him not to play a big part in the show," says Olyphant. Goggins now appears in nine episodes of Season 1.
In Tuesday's episode, Goggins says, viewers will meet a different Boyd — one who has found God after his brush with death. "[We're] doing what amounts to a 180 after the pilot," Goggins says. "That kind of cataclysmic event in a person's life, more often than not, gives them an opportunity to profoundly change their philosophy, their world view, and the way that they live their life. Boyd is no exception. Unfortunately, he may be engaging in the same activities, but his motivations will be different."
At the heart of Boyd's development through the season is his relationship with Raylan. The two grew up together, and, as Goggins notes, "history trumps a lot of things."
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"You're looking at two guys who come from the same milieu," he says. "One went one way, one went the other. One wears a white hat, one wears a black hat. What both these characters are going to find is that they're not so dissimilar. Maybe the hat that they wear is a beige or a gray.
"You're going to see the relationships reverse. Boyd is Raylan's ultimate confidante and ultimate nemesis, and Raylan will become Boyd's ultimate confidante and ultimate nemesis. I don't know the last time I've seen the exploration of two friends that took completely different paths and come back together in a way that allows them to examine where they are in the world."
Some of Boyd and Raylan's closeness may also be tied up in Raylan's troubled history with his father, Goggins says. "All of these bones in Raylan's closet and in Boyd's closet will come tumbling out, and they're much more incestuous than one may think," he says. "These two men are intertwined on many, many different levels.
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Can the new Boyd Crowder be trusted? Goggins advises against snap judgments. "You have to look through his grin. Can you believe it?" he says. "I think everyone should be suspect of Boyd Crowder, yet don't be surprised if you are surprised. As the season progresses, you will be spending a lot more time with Boyd and his family and his world. And again, reserve your judgments until the end of these 13 episodes."
Don't let the finality of that statement or Goggins' initial hesitation to join the show fool you: He says he is on board for the life of the show. "Boyd Crowder is going to be around," he says. "We're going to explore this relationship between Raylan and Boyd for quite some time, if they'll let us. I'm excited to see where that goes."
Justified airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.