On March 12th, Walton attended the Hollywood Premiere of Tomb Raider with his lovely wife Nadia. Also in attendance was his talented co-star Alicia Vikander. You can view over 200+ photos in the gallery now.
Gainesville.com — Though he’s been acting on TV and in film for close to three decades, his name — Walton Goggins — doesn’t immediately conjure up a face. But once that one-of-a-kind face is seen, he’s quickly recognized. TV viewers know him as the shifty Boyd Crowder on “Justified” and, more recently, as the nasty Lee Russell on “Vice Principals.” On the big screen, some of his choice roles have been in “Django Unchained,” “Lincoln” and, most notably, as Sheriff Chris Mannix in “The Hateful Eight.” For his newest film, “Tomb Raider,” he gets to play the villainous, yet complex, mercenary Mathias Vogel, who goes up against the tough and feisty Lara Croft — a character that originated in a video game, was first played onscreen by Angelina Jolie, and is now portrayed by Alicia Vikander.
Goggins was raised outside of Atlanta, started dabbling in acting at 15 when he landed a part in the TV show “In the Heat of the Night,” spent a short time at Georgia Southern University, then at age 19, headed to Los Angeles to try his luck in show biz. Now 46, he’s still there. It’s where he recently spoke about his career and “Tomb Raider.”
Q: Did you have a tough time once you got here?
A: I was very lucky, man. I started working immediately, in little parts here and there. I also started a valet parking company as soon as I got here. I kept doing that and put all my money away, and then I sold the business. I never wanted to be a celebrity, and I’m not a celebrity. I just wanted to be good at at least one thing in my life, and that was telling stories because I so enjoyed doing that.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when a new script comes into your hands?
A: I try to absorb the information and be quiet. Without criticism or judgment, I just turn myself over to what this writer is trying to say. I just read it as a story, and just look for how I feel at the end of it. So, it’s contingent on the story. By the end of the story, even if it’s with flaws — because I don’t know anything that ISN’T flawed. Thank goodness for flaws! — I just ask myself, can I help my director tell this story?
Q: Did you and the film’s director, Roar Uthaug, have much discussion about how to play Vogel before filming began?
A: Roar and I had a conversation early on where I said, “I really love this, man, and I think it’s different, it’s not your usual kind of fare. I can only imagine what Alicia might do with this, and aside from wanting to play in that sandbox with her, I think I can give you something that’s different, if you let me.”
Q: You’ve now worked with so many different directors. Do you have to approach your craft differently with each one?
A: I think I’m a relatively adaptable guy. But the answer to your question is yes, and no. Look, with Quentin Tarantino (“Django,” “Hateful”), my process is whatever his process is. Yet he allows for MY process, as he allows for Sam Jackson’s or Kurt Russell’s or Tim Roth’s, or any of the people who have worked with him. And I have a very specific way, man. I’m alone, I’m pretty quiet, and I’m just off to the side. Because I love it, so that aspect of my process really doesn’t change. But if you’re working with a first-time director on an independent movie, and you can help them, it can be about, “I’m trying to help you win, and I want to win, so how do we tell the story that you want to tell and the story that I want to tell?” So that changes.
Q: You said that you wanted to be good at telling stories. Walton is certainly an unusual first name. What’s the story behind it?
A: Well, I’m Walton Sanders Goggins, Jr. My grandfather was one of the most important figures in my life, and I asked him that question. I said, “Where does my name come from?” He said, “Your father, because you’re a junior.” I said, “I know that, obviously, but take me back further.” He said, “It’s my middle name: Lawrence Walton Goggins.” I said, “OK, take it back even further.” And he said, “OK, here’s the truth, my name was actually Weldon, and I was made fun of by all of the kids in my class. When I was a kid in school, they would constantly ask, ‘How do you like your steak … Weldon?’ (big laugh). He told me that he was so traumatized by that childhood bullying that he changed it to Walton. (pause) I don’t know that I’ve ever told that story.
“Tomb Raider” opens on March 16.
Telegraphindia.com –TV man Walton Goggins — he’s done everything from Criminal Minds to CSI, The Shield to Sons of Anarchy — scores a biggie with his turn as Mathias Vogiel, the antagonist in Tomb Raider, the latest reboot of the blockbuster videogame, that’s now playing in cinemas. A chat.
Prior to becoming involved in Tomb Raider, did you have any experience with the videogame franchise that inspired it, or a frame of reference for what a phenomenon it was?
The answer is yes. But my experience with videogames began and ended with Pac Man, Donkey Kong and Galaga! [Laughs] I grew up at a time when videogames really weren’t a part of my culture — and we couldn’t afford it. So, I never played the Tomb Raider game. But when I shared this news with my nieces, nephews and godchildren, all of a sudden I became iconic in their eyes! For them, my association with Lara Croft made me a hero — even though I’m playing the antagonist! [Laughs]
In some ways, I think it was good for this film to have a principal actor who was initially unfamiliar with the character of Lara Croft or her adventures in the games. When reading the script, I wasn’t influenced by the legacy or feel any pressure to uphold a vision that the audience might expect. Therefore, my motivations could be pure.
What can you tell us about your character, Mathias Vogel, and how you connected with him as an actor?
Mathias is a man who has been searching for the fabled tomb of Queen Himiko for seven years, to no avail. He holds no dreams of changing the world. He’s not interested in the fact that his discovery holds the potential to unleash threats beyond imagination. It’s just a job to him, and he wants the job to be over. The one bright spot is an unexpected arrival. In some ways, Mathias is in awe of what landed on his doorstep in the form of Lara Croft. He’s overwhelmed by her presence. And then his journey begins.
I thought that idea was bold and different and three-dimensional. It was something I could sink my teeth into and contribute to the story we wanted to tell. Mathias’s need to move on with his life is a big part of who he is, which, in some ways, I think is even more destructive than pure villainy. He isn’t at the nascent stage or the apex of his journey. You’re meeting a guy on a Wednesday of the longest week of his life. Mathias is exhausted and has few options. I’m sure that there was enthusiasm and passion at the beginning of his search, but by the time we meet him in Tomb Raider, he’s not full of potency and vigour.
I think audiences are no longer interested in one-dimensional antagonists. I’m lucky to have been a part of some seminal stories featuring multi-dimensional adversaries, beginning with my role in the television series The Shield (where he played Detective Shane Vendrell). So, portraying Mathias was very satisfying for me as an actor, and I hope it’s satisfying for the audience.
What do you think Alicia Vikander brings to Lara Croft, and how did you find working with her?
I think Alicia is one of the greatest actors of her generation. She’s a very special talent. And while I knew Alicia socially, I was so looking forward to playing in a sandbox with her, and I wasn’t disappointed. The truth is that Alicia is amazing, and I applaud her incredible commitment to playing Lara Croft. I’ve been lucky over the course of my career to have some really good chemistry with a lot of different kinds of people. And working with Alicia was everything I had hoped it would be.
Can you talk about the dynamic we’ll see unfold between Mathias and Lara Croft?
It’s complicated with Walton and Alicia on screen together, and it’s complicated — and very exciting — when Mathias and Lara are on screen together. There’s a lot going on between them. What I think is going to surprise the audience is that they’re meeting a man, Mathias Vogel, who doesn’t have a lot of information. He’s tasked with finding this tomb, and he knows only a little of what might be in it. Mathias has two daughters that he hasn’t seen for seven years.
Suddenly, a young woman — Lara Croft — shows up, and she’s around the same age of one of his daughters. For Mathias, it’s beautiful, sad and exhilarating to be able to just talk to someone different, and to be close to youth and someone who reminds him of his family. So, in some ways, her arrival is the answer to his prayers, both negatively and positively.
How did you find the experience of filming in South Africa, in what looked like some rugged terrain?
I thrive in those conditions. Filming in South Africa and getting to experience that culture was a fantastic experience. I’ve dedicated my life to travelling and submersing myself in other cultures. When I wasn’t working, I took off and spent almost three weeks travelling all over South Africa and Namibia. I spent five days with the Himba tribe on the Angolan border, and then made my way to southern Namibia and then bounced over to Mozambique to do some scuba diving. So, the conditions on Tomb Raider were far from challenging. It was like, throw me into the briar patch! [Laughs]
Are the specific aspects of cultures of South Africa and the country itself that made a strong impression on you?
I really came to understand the effects of apartheid. The struggle of South Africans is living history. I met people who ran cooking schools in the townships. I spent 10 days on a safari up in northern South Africa and spent time with some Shangaan people in their village. I also visited an orphanage for youngsters and another for teens, and hung out with them. I was deeply touched by their struggle and inspired by their resolve. It was incredible. I fell in love with that country and with those people.
You’ve worked with some amazing filmmakers during your career. What was it like working with Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, who is making his first American studio film with Tomb Raider?
I think Roar’s Norwegian film The Wave is extraordinary. I was so taken with his ability to convey what was happening to this town, family and community in a very visceral way. Roar did such a good job visually of taking the audience through the experience of the anticipation of this cataclysmic natural occurrence. I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t wait to meet this guy’. Then, in a wonderful conversation we had via FaceTime, I found that Roar not only understood my take on Vogel, he encouraged and supported it. I wanted to do everything I could to help him realise his vision for Tomb Raider. He did an incredible job.
What do you hope audiences experience when they see Tomb Raider in cinemas?
We wanted to honour the place of this young woman, Lara Croft, in the imaginations of people all over the world. So, whether you are a fan of the Tomb Raider videogame or new to the character, I hope that that you will appreciate the passion behind this interpretation of Lara Croft.
In case you missed it, Walton was on CONAN this past Thursday to promote his newest film Tomb Raider. You can check out some clips from his interview below:
Watch Walton in 3 new clips from Tomb Raider including his exclusive on-set interview and B-Roll footage taken while filming.