ESQUIRE: In the penultimate episode, Shea Whigham plays an almost prophetic character that takes Boyd to task a bit. Before Boyd shoots him, he defiantly insists he knows who he is and doesn’t care about his legend. Is that true?
WALTON GOGGINS: I can’t believe that this is what you’re starting with, and I’m so grateful you are. Shea Whigham, first and foremost, I am such an admirer of his creative constitution. He is such a gifted actor, and we were so incredibly lucky to have him be, as you put it, a prophetic figure for Boyd’s future. But it also represents where he’s come to in his psyche. I think it’s the psychological Rubicon that Boyd crosses that he cannot come back from. It’s indicative of the mental state he’s in. That storyline was debated for a long time. They had me killing the very guy who represented all the things Boyd has seen and celebrated bout himself. He sees himself as a defender of the disenfranchised. Even though he sold them drugs, even though he made money on the backs of the poor, in his own perverted moral code [he] feels himself to be a defender of those rights. If you look back at every public forum Boyd has spoken in front of, he is in some ways talking about that. And when they asked me to kill this person, I had a very difficult time with it. I felt it was unnecessary. I didn’t think we had come to that place. I thought this was an action he’d never be forgiven for, that it is a bridge too far for who he is as a person. And when they said this is something we really wanna do, I acquiesced and saw the way I can do it and still be true to this person. And that is, let’s explore philosophically where Boyd is coming from in that moment, understanding that Boyd is doing something that disgusts him and he is disgusted not only with his action. He is disgusted with himself, he is disgusted with the life he’s been leading, and then he goes into his speech. When he says, “You think you’re better than me? Look at you. You’re disenfranchised and don’t even know it. Me, I’m my own man.” He’s saying, “I had freedom,” when in essence, it’s just an opaque defense for what he’s about to do. And when he raises that gun and says, “I’m an outlaw,” it’s with disgust, but that’s how low Boyd has dropped in the pursuit of that which he ultimately needs, and the extent he’s willing to go in order to get that.
But by that point, we’ve already seen Boyd kill Carl and doggedly pursue Ava with dubious intentions. Does all this expose Boyd as having always been ultimately dishonest with himself about himself?
I do, yeah. He is beginning to be honest about who he is as a person and his inability to escape who he is as a person. And it runs contrary to his actions for the last three years, which has been a desperate need to get out of the water and breathe air and real freedom, which is a life without crime, to move past his violent heritage and the role that he is supposed to play in perpetuating his own family legacy. If you look at everything he’s done violently, it has been to escape his lot in life. And how he’s cutting off the head of the thing he most loves in the world besides Ava. And why does he do that? I feel that if you really look at the course of this show and who Boyd is, the people he’s killed have always been according to his moral code. He’s a person that you know where you stand. I tell you up front: If you cross me, I’m gonna to kill you. This is where you fit in my life. He has done that with everyone, and Boyd’s only killed five, six people in the five years of this show, and yet he has this reputation. But I think the audience understands where they stand with Boyd, and [Whigham’s character] is a person who did nothing to him. But Boyd has, through his obsession with Raylan Givens, lost all sense of normalcy. He’s never had equilibrium, and now he’s more out of balance and more frenetic than he’s ever been. He’s not dictating his actions. His actions are dictating him.
Would you say Raylan and Boyd are mutually, singularly obsessed with each other?
That’s it. It’s that endless, overpowering obsession that each man has with the other that will lead to their ultimate downfall. It is that ego, that, “I am better than him, and I am going to beat Raylan Givens.” And it is Raylan Givens saying, “I am going to get Boyd Crowder. If I lose my job, if I lose my family, if I lose my reputation, if I lose my relationship with my daughter, then that’s the price that has to be paid.” And those are two people that have lost all sense of reason. They’re unreasonable people, and Boyd points it out [in “Collateral”]. Boyd says to Raylan, “Why you wanna get me so bad? There’s a lot of bad guys out there. Why me.” And he’s just articulating Raylan’s obsession. And in the same breath, Boyd’s just as obsessed with beating Raylan.
It might be easier if they stopped being coy and stubborn and sat down for a therapy session.
[Laughs] It’s true. Here’s the irony in their dynamic: It is Boyd’s obsession with Raylan Givens that will ultimately lead to his end. It is Raylan’s obsession with Boyd Crowder that will ultimately lead to his end. The thing neither one of them realizes is if either one of them got what they truly wanted, they would have a life without meaning. Hopefully, what they both will learn is you’ve been looking for reason in the wrong drawer. The reason for living is not because this other person exists for you to rub up against, it’s because the world is beautiful. And that is a rock-bottom place that a person needs to reach in order to come to that conclusion. And I can say, without getting in trouble, that that is a place both of them will come to.