Timothy Olyphant may embody the steely-eyed, white-hatted hero on “Justified,” the backwoods crime drama on FX based on stories by Elmore Leonard, but Walton Goggins supplies the show’s tortured soul.
His character, Boyd Crowder, began the series, which returns for its second season on Feb. 9, as a seemingly psychotic white supremacist. But as the show progressed, an apparent spiritual awakening led the character to break with his father, a crime boss, and, in the season finale, save his on-again, off-again adversary, played by Mr. Olyphant, in a climactic shootout.
Mr. Goggins grounded the pulpy twists with an understated portrayal that mixed the series’ florid dialogue with an unhinged ambiguity. Boyd’s motives were never entirely clear, and a character originally presented as a “stereotypical over-the-top redneck racist,” as Mr. Goggins put it, was revealed to be an intelligent manipulator and a cagey counterpoint to the United States marshal Raylan Givens, the protagonist, played by Mr. Olyphant.
The evolution happened on the fly. The original script killed off Boyd in the pilot, and when the producers decided to keep him around, Mr. Goggins helped them take the character beyond a stereotype. “I wasn’t interested in playing that person in the pilot,” he said. “I’m from the South — I’m not going to sell out my own culture for the sake of a television show.” Continue reading