‘Justified’ Set Visit: Cast Readies For A Bloody Season 2 Finale

Published 4 years ago by , Updated April 28th, 2011 at 1:50 am,

Timothy Olyphant FX Justified Justified Set Visit: Cast Readies For A Bloody Season 2 Finale

[This Post Contains Mild Justified season 2 SPOILERS]

We had the chance walk amongst the dusted back roads and wooded hills of the Justified set at the Disney ranch in Santa Clarita, California, and speak with the stars and creators about the development of this innovative, and highly entertaining show.

If you’ve been watching FX’s original concrete Cowboy series, then you will be aware that the writers have been laying the groundwork for an explosive reckoning in the simmering feud between the Givens, Bennett and Crowder families.

If you are unfamiliar with the show, allow us to encourage you to to catch up with this creative and engaging series. With outstanding performances, complex storylines and healthy doses of old-school (yes) justice, Justified will not disappoint.

Take a look at the synopsis below:

“U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is a modern day 19th century-style lawman, enforcing his brand of justice in a way that puts a target on his back with criminals and places him at odds with his bosses in the Marshal service. That conflict results in a reassignment for Givens to the U.S. District covering the town where he grew up. He is an anachronism – a tough, soft spoken gentleman who finds his quarry fascinating, but never gives an inch. Dig under his placid skin and you’ll find an angry man who grew up hard in rural Kentucky, with an outlaw father, who knows a lot more about who he doesn’t want to be than who he really is. Developed by Graham Yost (“Boomtown,” “Speed”) and starring Timothy Olyphant (“Damages,” “Deadwood”), “Justified” is based on the works of crime novelist Elmore Leonard, including Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole.””

In between strolls through the back woods of “Harlan County” and lounging in Ava Crowder’s front yard as the cast and crew approached the close of production, we had the chance to speak with several of the shows stars, including: Walton Goggins (Boyd Crowder), Jeremy Davies (Dickie Bennett), Margo Martindale (Mags Bennett), Joseph Lyle Taylor (Doyle Bennett), Joelle Carter (Ava Crowder), and the recently-returned-from-the-grave David Meunier (Johnny Crowder).

The bulk of the first season of Justified focused on Raylan adjusting to his exile back home in Kentucky, the friction between the Crowders and the Givens, the power plays within the Crowder clan, and the lifelong resentment between Raylan Givens and his father, Arlo.

The second season introduced a new clan, the Bennett’s, into the mix and has seeded a whole new set of external and inter-clan conflicts with this violent and volatile bunch. The show now seems as though it is setting the viewer up for an updated Justified version of the Hatfields vs. The McCoys in which, not two, but three families battle for dominance and seek to balance the blood depts between them.

Bennetts Justified Set Visit: Cast Readies For A Bloody Season 2 Finale

David Meunier (Johnny Crowder) feels that there is a “good chance” that the show is headed in that direction. “There’s still the Bennetts” the actor explained, “and the Givens, and now I come back and so there is that third party that sort of rejuvenates because of what Boyd’s done, so it’s going to sort of be sort of a three-way.”

The introduction of the Bennett clan infused the show with a host of new, dynamic talent. Jeremy Davies (Dickie Bennett) was coming off his time on Lost as the brilliant, vulnerable, and ultimately doomed Daniel Faraday when he sent word to Justified executive producer Graham Yost that he loved the show, and would be thrilled to be a part of it. Yost, as Davies told us, “remembered that, and six months later…”

A large portion of the draw of the series for Davies was the tie to author Elmore Leonard. The actor has been a self-described Leonard fan “since birth.” Davies elaborated by saying, “I feel like he’s DNA deep for me. I grew up without television – I guess that’s blasphemous to say now – so I read far too much, and certainly revered Leonard for a long time.” The actor went on to say that the respect and admiration for the author goes so deep for the shows creator that “the writers were given bracelets by Graham that say ‘What Would Elmore Do?'”

Margo Martindale, who plays Davies’ fearsome and powerful mother, Mags Bennett, on the show, also takes her cue from Leonard saying:

“He’s hilarious, because he’s so mean. That’s what I took as my inspiration, the meaner the funnier. I think mean is really funny.”

If Mags represents the dualisticly nurturing yet devouring mother, and calculating clan leader, then Joelle Carter’s Ava Crowder is the strait shooting, in-the-moment survivor of the show. Carter explained that she adores that her character is designed that way, saying:

“Eva is a survivor of the moment, that beating or that day, it’s kind of like that’s how it happens for her. [For her it’s] ‘I’m in love right now, I just am. I’m not going to analyze it, I’m not going to think about it, I’m just going to be in love.’ So she really lives life with her heart on her sleeve.”

Ava Crowder Justified Justified Set Visit: Cast Readies For A Bloody Season 2 Finale

Though Justified has a wealth of rich characters, the heart of the series for many rests in the relationship between Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder and Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens. The two are two sides of a (deadly) coin, or oddly-shaped puzzle pieces that inexplicably fit together. Certainly within the world of the show, these two characters need one another. As Goggins theorized:

“I think it would be hard for Raylan to exist without Boyd, and Boyd certainly could not exist without Raylan. Especially in the dynamics of the show and they way that its been set up. For me what’s so interesting is that it’s about two guys from the same milieu who took two completely different paths. And they’re both very smart.

Graham [Yost] likened it to Boyd is a dark mirror of Raylan and I think that’s just simply because Boyd, in some ways, just didn’t have the courage to leave. To get out. And he certainly didn’t have a role model kind of pushing him in that direction and Raylan did, you know with his aunt Helen. You know it’s ‘keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.’

And I don’t know that Tim (Olyphant) would agree with this, but I think that there is a deep, deep bond between these two men, and I think that below the surface there is a long-lasting friendship. That’s certainly what I base my imagination on. That these people are friends and that at the end of the day, you know, you could call me Raylan Givens, and I’ll be right there for you.

Yeah, it’s kind of like that, it’s this love/hate relationship. Whenever Raylan is together with Boyd what’s so exiting about it to me is that it’s an intellectual sparring. You know it’s conversations that center around ambiguity and you never know really what the other person means, but you get the feeling that Boyd and Raylan know what the other person means.”

Olyphant Goggins Justified1 Justified Set Visit: Cast Readies For A Bloody Season 2 Finale

Ambiguity, is in fact “Boyd’s weapon of choice” as Goggins told us. Boyd’s character arc and storylines are among the most engaging on this, or any other series currently on television. As a southerner who had grown tired of the constant stereotyping of those from the south as racist and/or stupid, it was important to Goggins that his character be smart. Far more than just smart, Boyd is complex, layered and fascinating to watch. One is really never certain if he is sincere or simply playing a mind game on Raylan, the world, and perhaps even himself. “Well I mean he’s a Svengali, you know,” Goggins explains.

“He’s a showman, and Boyd, the old Boyd, needed a stage on which to perform. The marquee changed, but the show didn’t. It was a different message, but ‘hey look at me, look at me,’ you know? And now the man – that hopefully we’re trying to architect – is not saying ‘look at me, because I want to be seen,’ but [rather] ‘listen to me, because I have something worth saying,’ and that’s a big difference. It’s a really big difference. It’s going to be about sort of integrating those two sides and coming to grips with who he is and not looking at his faults as demons, but rather as assets. And I don’t think that he will be a man on either end of the spectrum anymore, but he will be a man in balance, in the center.”

As Boyd becomes a man at his center, he will reengage in the fight for supremacy between the criminal under-lords of this little corner of Kentucky, and once again face off against Raylan on opposite sides of the law. As far as the confrontation between the three clans goes, as Margo Martindale (Mags Bennett) tells us, the bloodshed between the Givins and the Bennetts has a long and storied history.

“Originally, there was something in there that when I was young I ran moonshine for Raylan’s grandfather, so we made a lot of money, I’d go over to another county, outside of Lexington, and we made money doing that so we were chums. The feud came back into big play when Arlo (Givins, Raylan’s father) killed my husband.”

When a blood feud and history of violence combines with the wanton ambition of Mag’s mercurial and…intellectually-challenged sons, a recipe for a collision of magnificent force is primed.

“The whole thing is about to blow up right now,” Joseph Lyle Taylor (Doyle Bennett) relayed. “You know, we’re down to it as it were. Yeah, it’s getting ugly,” the actor continued, laughingly, “It’s pretty big. But you’ll have to tune in. I can’t tell you.”

We certainly will.

Justified airs Wednesdays at 10PM on FX.

Follow me on Twitter  @jrothc

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  1. I finally watched a few minutes of this show and was glad I didn’t purchase the dvds.

    Timothy Olyphant worked in Deadwood. I figured his delivery was perfect for a Sheriff of that time, but he’s still playing that character. Its like that’s all he’s got,,,

    I found the show, forgettable and poorly acted.

    • “A few minutes”. Understand that your credibility went straight out the window the moment “finally” and “a few minutes” appeared in the context of your decidedly forgettable comment on the merits of Justified. If there was any substance to your comment, it certainly would be worthwhile to consider, but having not watched the show, you cannot possibly formulate an opinion on it. If you read the synopsis, you would understand all you need to know about Olyphant’s character. “That’s all he’s got”. If an actor is repeatedly offered roles to play a specific character, then it is because he excels in playing said character (Think Mark Strong as “the villain”). Olyphant is great at what he does, namely giving Givens the inner turmoil that is necessary for the character to be believable. What I like about Justified, and I have watched every episode, and therefore can purport to have an idea of what I am talking about, is that the characters, from Raylan Givens to Johnny Crowder, have depth. Every character has nuances and this is where the show succeeds because we care about the characters, about what happens to Raylan. Rule no. 1 of any TV show and/or movie, Establish the characters. You never watched more than a few minutes and so your argument for Justified being forgettable and poorly acted is not only not valid, but unsound. It is the story and how the actors bring the story to life that make Justified great to watch. Next time, if you haven’t watched something, don’t lend your opinion on it.

  2. Justified is the best show on television
    with Timothy Olyphant’s charismatic
    Raylan Givens its center of gravity.

    Superbly acted and written.
    A rarity on TV to be sure.

    Thanks for the actor’s insights, Roth.
    I disagree with Walton on the Boyd/Raylan
    bond but he does indicate Timothy would as well.

  3. I love me some Justified. The only thing that bothers me is that Boyd Crowder’s haircut makes him look like a neurotic bird. :)

  4. Too true, Michael. The Boyd do is a tad overdone.
    It is a bit of a distraction and seems out of
    character for rural Kentucky too.

    • Not really. Don’t get rural Kentucky confused with mountain Kentucky. I’ve lived in both. The show “takes place” in the hills of Harlan County. The show has done a great job representing those type of people from there. Boyd’s haircut is something that’s pretty common in those hills, especially for those treading toward the wrong side of the law.

      And for you, 790, you have definitely shortchanged the show. T.O. was cast because he’s so awesome at playing that type of character, but he’s been in plenty other things where he didn’t act this way. Try watching something for more than a few minutes. As Raylan Givins might say, or more appropriately, his boss… you might just learn a thing or two.

  5. Ok Kentuckified, if I see it cheap on dvd I’ll pick up season 1.

    But if it sucks I’m commin after you,,,
    (Insert Dukes of Hazard horn sound)

    • The 1st time I watched I also didn’t care for it. But while sick one day I gave it another try because I could see season 2 from the 1st episode Ondemand. Now my opinion has changed and it has become one of my favorite shows. Granted at times the pace may be slow but it only serves to set up something bigger. I think your opinion may change if you give it another go…

  6. Love this show. Very interesting read and I actually agree with Walton. I think he nailed the relationship perfectly. He’s not saying it’s out on the surface. It’s just a deep connection that may not always be obvious but you can almost sense it in certain moments. Especially on Boyd’s side which makes it all the better that he sees that. Givens tries to hide it more.

  7. Its my favorite show to date.

  8. As we have built to a shattering finale (again) I must say I am shocked. After the excellent season one…I thought there is no where to go. WRONG. Season two is beyond words Great. They have explored the depths of each character and still tell the story of Givens vs Bennett, Raylan vs Boyd, Raylan and Winona, Raylan’s desire for a second chance in life and the mistakes he makes in that journey…just the stuff with Art is great. This show is just unbelievably great. If you haven’t – buy DVD of season 1 and get on board.

  9. Good afternoon screen rant I live in Tennessee and we just got hit by the storm of the century and lost all our power so I missed this weeks episode and I’m going into dt’s because it’s the only episode I’ve ever missed can anyone give me a synopsis?

  10. This show is pretty slick I admit I’ve been hooked since about halfway thru the first season. This show is just so damn well done I can’t really find much wrong with it. Interestingly enough shortly before I caught on to justified I was trying to get hooked on deadwood which for some reason I just found incredibly boring… and trust me i’m not the guy with ADD who can’t sit still for 2 minutes. I am very patient but I just found that show very unsatisfying. Granted I only got about 4 or 5 episodes in but when you find yourself looking at how much time is left in each episode every 5 minutes thats when you know its not for you. However, I felt the best part about the show was Olyphants character and his parter. T.O. just has great screen presence and nails the badass look. I’m sure we will see him in more and more high profile films as time goes on.

    • Yes they’ve been renewed for a third season and hopefully many more after that