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Interview with Walton Goggins of "Justified"
on FX 3/15/11.
I called in to this interview, but I was having problems
with my phone, so I did not get to participate. Goggins is a wonderful
actor, and his is one of the most interesting characters on the show.
He brings a great intensity to the role, and sometimes he also infuses
some humor in the role, as well as some pathos. It's a great show, so
make sure you watch it. It's a fantastic modern-day western.
Roslyn Bibby – FX Networks
Walton Goggins – “Boyd Crowder,: Justified
Moderator Welcome to the Justified Conference call. At this time, all
lines are in a listen-only mode. Later there will be an opportunity for
your questions and comments and instructions will be given at that time.
As a reminder, today’s conference is being recorded.
At this time, I’d like to turn the conference over to our host with FX
Network, Miss Roslyn Bibby.
R. Bibby Good morning, everyone, and thank you, Walton, and thank you,
journalists, for taking the time to be on the call today. Justified will
air its sixth episode tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific time and we
will forward the transcript from this call as soon as its available,
which will usually be about 24 hours to 48 hours. Tom, let’s please
Moderator Our first question today comes from the line of Brittany
Frederick, with Digital Airwaves.
B. Frederick —what I’m kind of curious about was … in the first season
your character was the antagonist, but in the second season, we’re
almost kind of pulling for him so I’m kind of curious what you think
about the transition for your character between seasons and if you feel
that he’s become a more sympathetic character.
W. Goggins First and foremost, let me thank everybody, all you
journalists, for coming out today and being on this call. I appreciate
it greatly. I didn’t hear the first part of your question, Brittany, but
I did hear the last so I’ll address that and hopefully I’ll answer your
I think that Boyd is continually changing. I think that from the pilot
to episode two was a big swing in a completely different direction. Then
from Season One to Season Two is an even bigger swing. I think that if
you look at the trajectory of Boyd Crowder and you think about kind of
this Svengali, kind of this showman in the pilot episode. Then this
near-death experience and this religious conversion and the ambiguous
kind of nature of that conversion, only to be revealed at the end of
Season One that he did truly believe in God.
In some ways that was his answer so that when we come into Season Two
having that foundation rocked to its core, I think what you found is a
man who is not even searching for meaning. He’s searching for the
absence of meaning. He’s just trying to wander and be aimless for a
while. I think we, as human beings, find a character like that
sympathetic. I think that with that type of vulnerability that Boyd is
feeling this season that you’re going to get an opportunity, as you
already have through these five episodes to kind of see who this guy is.
You’re looking behind the curtain; you’re getting to see behind the
It’s really interesting to me because I didn’t really know who he was.
It’s still a mystery to me. I’m still kind of figuring it out every
single day. This season, at the beginning, I think what Graham and the
writers and myself tried to do is to take a man who lived in the
extremes only to thread a needle, to come out the other side and maybe
find a man in balance. What will a Boyd Crowder in balance look like? I
Moderator Next, we’ll go to the line of Sheldon Wiebe with
S. Wiebe This season, Boyd has done something we haven’t seen from him
before and that’s that he’s shown himself equally capable of being at
peace in a domestic situation or turning tables on those three
mine-robbers who would have killed him. He even gave them a chance to
make a different choice. What is it about Boyd that makes him not merely
equally comfortable with both peaceful and dangerous situations, but
capable of enjoying both equally?
W. Goggins I think it’s been a journey of self-discovery for him this
season. He’s in the process of figuring that out. I don’t want to give
it away now, but coming up in three or four episodes, you’re basically
going to see what Boyd has taken away from this introspective, this
journey within. He’s going to be able to articulate this in a way that
Boyd would articulate this, in a poetic way. He’s going to just lay it
all out there. Like having taken the time and looked at life from all
these different angles, this is what I walk away with. It’s beautiful
and in some ways, I think for the audience, hopefully you’ll really
understand this guy and not just feel sympathy for him, but you’ll kind
of understand it from a birds-eye point of view and you’ll see kind of
his worldview laid out in a way that makes sense.
S. Wiebe As a quick follow-up, when Boyd actually gave those three the
chance to make a different choice, that suggests that Boyd has developed
even more a peculiar and personal code of behavior. How do you think he
has developed this?
W. Goggins It’s interesting that you say that. I was about to say that
his moral compass does not always point north by a larger society’s
standard, but there is a moral code there and it is shifting. Whereas
before he probably would have shot all three of those men point-blank,
he did give them an opportunity to make the decision for themselves. I
think that had they decided not to go against Boyd that Boyd would have
honored his word and gone through with the robbery. It’s interesting how
his moral code has changed from the beginning of Season One.
I think that what you’re going to see, hopefully, what will inform that
moral code more than anything and allow him to find a place in the
middle is love. I think you’re seeing that burgeoning relationship
happening now between him and Ava—I think I’m okay to say that. At the
end of the day, what may be Boyd’s salvation is love. A moral code
infused with that kind of love, to Boyd, is even more complex than
believing in Jesus or any other escapade he’s found himself in or on.
Moderator Next, we’ll go to the line of Thomas Lewis with LAist.
T. Lewis You mentioned briefly the relationship with Ava Crowder, played
by Joelle Carter, who’s fantastic—
W. Goggins Fantastic, I can’t say that enough. She’s a wonderful
moment-to-moment actress and the scenes that we have together I just so
look forward to.
T. Lewis I think it’s remarkable how the relationship between Boyd and
Ava has changed. If you were to show a scene of Boyd standing on a porch
from like last week compared to a scene of them together in the first
couple episodes of the previous season you would think, “What’s going on
here? This is an alternate universe. Fringe is having its effect on the
series.” How have you negotiated how your characters are doing this? It
still seems like there’s something just barely bubbling under the
surface of Boyd and that maybe Ava has kind of come to terms with that.
I’m just wondering what your process was between you and Joelle.
W. Goggins It’s a great question. I worked really hard with the writers
and with Joelle to set this relationship up in a way that we feel like
we’ve earned it so that when it happens, if it does happen—and I won’t
give you a definitive answer one way or the other, but—if it happens,
you will be ready for it. You will think that we’ve earned it because
we’ve taken our time with it. I think for any kind of courting process
especially in a town like Harlan, which in my estimation, in my opinion,
is suspended in time. Even though we have cell phones and things from
the 21st century, it really is of another place in time and courting
means something and ways to go about that mean something. We worked
really hard to do it slowly and to do it over time so that when we do
get there we feel like we’ve earned it.
Some of the most interesting conversations we had at the beginning of
the season this year, for me as an actor and a collaborator, revolved
around Boyd as a romantic guy. How would Boyd kind of go about really
courting a woman? I said, “Let’s do things different.” He has to come at
this from a completely different angle because in his art, Boyd is a
poet. He’s an intellectual and even though he’s many, many other
things—you can use a lot of adjectives to describe him—a poet is one of
them. Graham had decided to put him in that room reading a book and we
talked about the book. As it turns out, I really wanted this book, Of
Human Bondage, because I thought it accurately reflected where he was in
his life and it was written by my favorite author, Somerset Maugham,
which is the name of my son, believe it or not.
So it was just a slow process about how do we earn this; how do we make
it different than the rest of television. Hopefully we’ve done our job.
Hopefully you’ll want to see them hook up by the time they do.
T. Lewis I’m really loving watching the transformation and thanks so
much for sharing a bit of your craft with us.
W. Goggins I’ll just say one other thing. It’s interesting for a man
like Boyd—and I touched on this a minute ago. I know I’m being a little
long-winded with these answers, I just so enjoy talking to the people
that articulate questions—for a guy like Boyd, if he were to find—I
mean, how ironic and how satisfying would it be that if at the end of
this man’s journey, what brought him peace was a true understanding of
love. Maybe he is in the process of experiencing an emotion that he’s
never experienced before. Just like in Season One with God and just like
in this season with wandering and wanting to go to the bottom of the
hole—and not just a well. He wanted to go to the bottom of the well;
that wasn’t deep enough so he went to the bottom of a mineshaft—only to
kind of come out of it and come into the light and that light be love.
What does that look like for a guy as twisted and strange as Boyd
Crowder? It’s wonderful, man. Every … day is a surprise for me, very
Moderator Next, we’ll go to the line of April MacIntyre with Monsters &
A. MacIntyre I’m just following up. My question for you was I always
thought your character was an intellectual and that deep down Raylan
knows this and he respects you because of that and knows your
capabilities deep down. My question is your character seems to use a
scalpel to navigate like a moral landmine whereas Mags Bennett uses a
sledgehammer. I was wondering if you could give us some insight as to
how Boyd is going to navigate Mags Bennett the rest of these episodes.
W. Goggins I don’t know how much of that I can really go into, but to
use an Obama metaphor, the difference between using a sledgehammer and
using a scalpel, maybe that’s kind of what you said. Boyd really kind of
uses a scalpel when he approaches people and like you said, Mags uses
that sledgehammer. Hopefully, Boyd will be able to do it in a way that
is truthful. If you watch him, if you watch the way that he manipulates
situations, 80% of what he says is truthful. I think he’s an honorable
guy in his way; he’s a thief among thieves. I think that once the
Bennett’s and the Crowder’s really kind of get together, you’re going to
see that play out in a couple of different directions. One may be
upfront and the other may not. How about that for some suspense?
A. MacIntyre My follow-up is does Boyd Crowder like Mags Bennett?
W. Goggins I think Boyd Crowder respects Mags Bennett. I don’t know
whether or not he likes Mags Bennett. I think he respects her.
A. MacIntyre Boyd Crowder like Raylan?
W. Goggins I think Boyd Crowder very much likes Raylan. I’ve heard Tim
say in a couple of interviews that he doesn’t think that they’re
friends, Raylan and Boyd. I would fervently disagree at least from
Boyd’s point-of-view and that’s the only point-of-view I can really
speak from. I think that he sincerely values the relationship that he
has with Raylan.
When we first got the scripts this year, we got number one and number
two and Boyd wasn’t in number one except at the very end. There’s a
conversation that we have in number two, early on, right after we leave
the mine. At the beginning of that conversation, Raylan states kind of
why he’s there. I was talking to Graham and talking to Tim about it and
I said once you say that this is the look—and maybe it’s not written
here, but I’m going to tell you this is what Boyd’s feeling and that is,
“Really, that’s all you came to talk to me about, man? That’s what our
relationship means to you after like 18 men have been summarily executed
and you haven’t seen me since that night two or three months ago and
that’s the only thing that you’re here to talk about?” There was this
disappointment on Boyd’s face that I think really kind of infused their
relationship for the first five episodes. This is so wonderful as an
actor to kind of find that moment, kind of find those moments that,
while they’re not overt, they’re certainly not explored on a surface
level, you really kind of feel—they fill in the layers. I think that if
Boyd can get hurt by Raylan, than Boyd really cares for Raylan.
Moderator Next, we’ll go to Alicia Tamayo’s line with Pop Culture
A. Tamayo Your character has changed and developed so much. How far in
advance do you find out things that are going to happen to your
character and do you like to know?
W. Goggins On The Shield, we never knew. We never knew anything, like
literally until the day before we started shooting we would get the
script. It would be these crazy situations that they would put us in.
They really kept us in the dark. I know a little more in
advance—probably a week-and-a-half in advance, certainly more than I
knew on The Shield. I think the reason why is Graham and the writers
have invited participation from us because we’re in the heads of these
characters. It’s really, I think, productive in this particular
situation to seek out that collaboration. We’ve had a really good time
and in some ways kind of share ownership over these characters and the
situations they kind of find themselves in.
The writers kind of come up with the story and they break the story.
They give us some key character arcs that they want to get through over
the course of the season. We sit and talk about that. Sometimes we bring
them to them and a lot of times, they bring them to us. Once those
situations are set up, then the conversation begins about how Boyd would
really react in this situation. There’s a scene in episode four, I
think, where they’re talking on the porch and it started off as really
kind of a small scene just to establish the guy’s coming. I said,
“Graham, no there’s gold here and I think if we do it right the audience
will just want to sit and listen to Boyd and Ava talk. Let’s experience
that scene as if they’ve only done it maybe one time before, but then
from there forward we can imagine that every single one they’re out
enjoying a cup of coffee together. That really lays the cornerstone for
where their relationship might go.” It worked. I think people really
liked it. But you never know, but that’s kind of our process and I like
Moderator Next, we’ll go to Blair Marnell with CraveOnline.
B. Marnell I just wanted to ask where would you like to see Boyd’s
relationship with Raylan go in the future.
W. Goggins I wish I could give you an answer. I don’t know. I have no
idea after what happens at the end of this season. I’m not sure.
Eventually, these guys are going to have to butt heads in a way that
skulls are going to be cracked. I hope that we prolong that day as long
as possible. I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen between these
In some ways, I think they have more in common. They have much more in
common than they have not in common. Going forward, I would want to
explore that a little bit more because I think we know that Raylan
understands that they’re on the opposite sides of the fence. I think
there might be a place where Raylan kind of comes to an understanding
and admission, maybe, of how similar he is to Boyd—the good side of
Boyd, but I don’t know. I have no idea. I can’t wait to see it like you
can’t wait to see it.
B. Marnell I meant where would you like to see it go as opposed to where
it will actually go.
W. Goggins No, I don’t know the answer to that question. I understood
that being your question. I don’t know right now. I’m so in this second
season and we just wrapped two days ago. I’m satiated with the way it
kind of ended up that I haven’t really begun to think about next season
and if we get the opportunity to come back. Let’s talk in September and
I’ll have an answer for you.
B. Marnell Do you think Boyd could hold his own series? After the last
couple episodes, I certainly think so.
W. Goggins From your mouth to God’s ear, we’ll see. Yes, you never know.
Moderator We go to the line of Christina Kovar with Maverick Media.
C. Kovar I just want to say that it is amazing to hear how insightful
you are with your character. It’s obvious and apparent how much you care
for Boyd and all the work that you put into it shows on the screen. I
could listen to you talk about Boyd probably for like three hours.
W. Goggins That’s very kind of you to say. I’ll buy lunch—for everybody
on the phone call, lunch, you’ve got it.
C. Kovar That would be fantastic. You’ve been answering my questions as
you go along so I’ve been trying to figure stuff out, but you’ve just
gotten into Twitter, unless there’s somebody pretending to be you.
W. Goggins I think it’s somebody maybe pretending to be me. That’s on my
to-do-list. I literally had a son two months ago so that’s kind of
taking all my attention, as it should be. My wife says, or my fiancé,
rather, says, “You have to start Twittering. Here’s the stuff just fill
it out.” So yes, I’m afraid that I’ll Twitter after like three glasses
of wine and give the whole season away. That’s my only fear.
C. Kovar So this is you or is not you on Twitter right now?
W. Goggins No, it’s not me.
C. Kovar Okay, well, someone needs to get on that.
W. Goggins Ah, yes, Roslyn, come on.
C. Kovar That just popped up in the last two days. There’s an Olyphant
and there’s yours in there, too.
W. Goggins Is he smart?
C. Kovar There seems to be personal photos. At least there’s one of you
and your wife as the background.
W. Goggins Would you ask him to please give me the personal details of
my life because sometimes I forget them?
C. Kovar We’ll skip that question because now I can’t ask you that one.
I can say that in an upcoming episode we do see Boyd completely out of
his element and wearing a suit. Can you tell me a little bit about how
it went into what suit it is and how is he going to wear it? I know it’s
completely—I mean, they go out and they buy it for him that day. It’s
W. Goggins Yes, I don’t want to give too much of that away and hopefully
you’ll see over the course of that episode and Avnet directed this
particular episode where that happens, Jon Avnet. I’m such a big fan of
his, but we kind of talked about how does this happen and what does …
look like and Patia Prouty, our wardrobe supervisor, we talked about
this suit. Well, if it’s going to come from Sears, what would Boyd find
in Sears and how would he make it his own? It was a lengthy kind of
discussion and hopefully it feels old-timey and kind of appropriate to
I think so often in this particular season, Boyd is finding himself in
situations that he’s never been in before, whether it’s a suit, whether
it’s dealing with a business person or whether it’s falling in love or
whether it’s trying not to be a criminal. Episode-to-episode literally I
would get the script just to repeat myself and say, “How does this work?
What does he do here?” It wouldn’t be revealed really until we got
there. You’re going to see a suit and you’re going to see him—hopefully
uncomfortable in a suit, but then kind of find his way the way that he
finds his way into situations and works from the bottom up to understand
Moderator Next, we’ll go to the line of Monique Hale with Your
M. Hale I spoke to Joelle on Friday and I told her that I thought Boyd
and Ava were kind of like one another’s support system, like they don’t
have anyone else, but each other. They’re each other’s family. Do you
think that with their relationship developing that maybe he’s looking to
her for her opinion of him to kind of boost him up to say, “Hey, you’re
a good guy. You’re on this road to redemption and I think you’re
actually going to make it there?” Or does he just—he doesn’t know, he
doesn’t believe in himself yet and he’s looking for someone to do that?
W. Goggins Look, if you’re in Alcoholics Anonymous or any other program
and you’re trying to get sober, those people become your family and you
lean on them. Ava having gone through the tragedy that she went through
with Boyd’s brother, of all people, and Boyd having gone through the
tragedy that he went through, there’s an intimacy kind of created there
through pain and through suffering. I think they are a mutual support
system and that will inform this relationship as it progresses. I think
that who Boyd is as a person may be a schism that they can’t get over or
maybe they can; I don’t know the answer to that question, but I think
that who Boyd is will play a part in how this relationship evolves.
Moderator Our next question comes from the line of Rick Porter of
R. Porter I’m curious as viewers and we’re all trying to figure out this
sort of ambiguity of where Boyd stands and everybody else seen in the
show seems to be in sort of that same spot. Boyd himself doesn’t really
betray any kind of frustration that … people not seen what—that he sort
of is what he says he is. Do you think underneath there’s any sort of
conflict within him that—come on, I’m being true to my word here?
W. Goggins As an experiment if nothing else, I think what Graham and the
writers were able to do this year—and hopefully what I’ve been able to
participate in—is the antithesis of the first season where the audience
never bought that Boyd’s spiritual conversion was for real until the
end. This season on some level at least with the people that I’ve talked
to, the audience believes Boyd, but the rest of the people in Harlan on
the show don’t believe Boyd. That’s really interesting because I think
that the actions that Boyd may take in the future—there may be a wider
margin of forgiveness from the audience if they completely understand
We’ll see what happens. I think that there are things that Raylan does
that are not on par with Boyd, but certainly can be construed as immoral
and borderline criminal. That’s really interesting; these two guys are
kind of moving closer together and there are things that happen as the
season progresses. I don’t know that it was necessarily architected this
way from the beginning—I think if just kind of happened—where they found
themselves experiencing emotions in different ways, but that were very
similar. That’s really cool; when you’re looking at two different people
in two different worlds going through the exact same thing and neither
one of them really know it about each other. That’s something that I was
excited to read so I hope you are excited to watch that.
R. Porter You don’t feel like there’s a—?
W. Goggins A conflict going on within Boyd?
R. Porter —within Boyd or him just wanting to say, “What do I have to do
to convince you people?”
W. Goggins Absolutely, I think that’s played out in the first five
episodes. I think at the end of the fifth episode last Wednesday night
that there was a certain amount of—Boyd had an epiphany. There’s a
certain realization on his part that, “Wait a minute, this may indeed be
who I am,” but with that acceptance who is that person. It’s not the
guy; it’s not the Boyd from episode one and the pilot, Season One. It’s
not the guy who found God and then lost God. It’s a guy that he’s just
kind of dipping his toes in the water and figuring out who am I. I feel
like that’s what Boyd’s been doing since the show began to be quite
honest with you.
R. Bibby We have time for one last question.
Moderator That question comes from Katherine Welsh from
W. Goggins Katherine, before you ask your question while everybody else
is still on the call, I just want to thank you all again—I know I’ve
said it two or three times, but—for participating in this phone call.
I’m sure you’ve talked to Tim and some of you have talked to Joelle and
Natalie and so on and so forth. We live and die by the support from
people like yourselves. I think that FX and basic cable is tantamount to
We make this product for a particular audience. Like Mad Men is made for
a particular audience, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, all these shows
on cable and basic cable are meant to reach out to a select group of
viewers that want to watch it every week, that want to get lost in a
book on television. I thank you again for supporting us in this way
because without your support, we wouldn’t be here.
So go ahead, ask your question.
K. Welsh You’ve been talking about how Boyd is kind of ambiguous and
mysterious. I was just wondering when you’re playing that are there
times when they tell you, “Boyd’s actually thinking this, but make it so
the audience can’t tell,” or is he mysterious to you as well.
W. Goggins He’s mysterious to me as well, but they leave that part of it
up to me. They give me the diving board and they say, “Jump.” Sometimes
it’s from a low board and sometimes it’s from a high board. I think that
for a person like Boyd, a person as smart as Boyd, he understands that
his strength comes in ambiguity. What’s been his albatross is his
ambiguity to himself, but what may be ultimately his salvation and his
ultimate strength is him being truthful with himself and truthful to a
couple of people around him. It’s been very interesting just to play and
to figure out, but he’s still—yes, a mystery to me, for sure. I’m trying
to make sense of it a word at a time.
R. Bibby Everyone, thank you once again for participating on the call. I
think Walton summed it up the best just a few moments ago so I won’t say
anything else. Again, the transcripts will be available 24 hours to 48
hours, thank you very much.
W. Goggins Goodbye, everybody.
R. Bibby Thank you bloggers; thanks Walton.
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