When Walton Goggins signed on to play Them That Follow’s Lemuel, the snake-handling pastor of a devout Pentecostal sect deep in Appalachia, you would think he’d have been okay with handling a snake or two. That was not the case. Ahead of the film’s release, we sat down with Goggins to discuss why he took the role anyway, what happened when his greatest fear came true, and why every role he takes feels like a profound privilege.
Video: Walton Goggins had to overcome his greatest fear for his role in ‘Them That Follow’
Collider.com — From writer/directors Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage, the indie drama Them That Follow is set deep in Appalachia, where Pastor Lemuel Childs (Walton Goggins) presides over a Pentecostal sect of serpent handlers. At the same time, his devoted daughter, Mara (Alice Englert), is preparing for her wedding day while also being forced to confront the fact that a dangerous secret could put her directly at odds with the traditions of her family and community.
At the film’s Los Angeles press day, Collider got the opportunity to sit down and chat 1-on-1 with actor Walton Goggins about why he wanted to be a part of telling this story, the appeal of playing this character, the mysteries of different types of religion, why people tend to be afraid of snakes, and faith vs. family for his character. He also talked about his role in the outrageous new HBO series The Righteous Gemstones, and why he wanted to play the lead role in the upcoming CBS comedy series The Unicorn.
Collider: Watching this, it seems obvious why you would want to play the character like this and be a part of telling a story like this, but was it apparent, on the page, the first time that you read the script? Were there conversations about who this guy would be?
WALTON GOGGINS: Yeah, that’s how I saw it, when I read it, the first time. What I was so blown away by were the words on the page, and the conflict and struggle that the lead character, Mara, played by Alice Englert, has in this story. It is very of this moment, the decision that she has to make and the journey that she’s on, and yet it’s also, simultaneously, from another time. I suppose what I try to do is to make her decision to ultimately leave this community as difficult as possible, and I try to do that through love. This practice, that they have in this community, is misunderstood and misaligned, on a number of levels, of course, but you should at least understand it to disagree with it. But what is undeniable is the love that this man has for his daughter.
For me and for everyone involved, especially for the writer/directors, Britt and Daniel, it was important not to take sides, and to just show the stakes that are involved with living a life, or making a decision, that runs contrary to what all of these people believe, spiritually. It wouldn’t be a big deal in a lot of other communities. It just wouldn’t be. But for these people, it’s life or death. Humans are incapable of passing judgment. That has to come from God, and the vehicle through which that atonement is made, in this particular circumstance, is through handling deadly snakes. We didn’t make this up. Britt and Daniel didn’t make this up. This practice has been going on for 125 years, in America. The first Pentecostal church in America was here in California, believe it or not, at least as far as I understand, in the 1920s, and it proliferated from here. This is just a way that a very small group of people, in this country, show their devotion and worthiness in God’s eyes. It’s something I’m very proud of. I think it says a lot about a lot.
People find snakes so mysterious, in general, because they don’t quite understand them, and then when you add that to religion, it’s something that’s even more difficult to understand for some people.
GOGGINS: My wife and I found an article about why snakes are so scary, or at the center of fears that people have. For a number of people, snakes are always a part of that list. For me, it’s number one on that list. It’s not sharks, and it’s not spiders. Heights is on there, on some level, but it’s really snakes. And we both found this article that talked about snakes, from the point of view of just their movement. I’m sure there is a survival instinct, with things that can hurt you, and that’s a part of our DNA for thousands of years. We can’t make sense of their movement. There is no way in which to predict what they will do, and things that are unpredictable are anathema to surviving, as a human being, and that’s what this article was all about. It was extraordinary, really, because I had never thought about it in that way. In some ways, you can see other animals movements or the unknown coming, as a threat from a hurricane or tornado, even though that’s a bit unpredictable, too. But snakes, it’s up close and it’s intimate. It’s personal, and you just can’t make sense of what they’re doing. The snake has been cast in the role of the villain, since the very beginning. That is the Christian origin story. So, it represents things that are nefarious and harmful to us, in story, since the very beginning. Why is that the case?
TVGuide.com — This fall, CBS will debut The Unicorn, a new single-camera comedy all about how Walton Goggins is sexy and everyone wants to date him. His character, Wade, is a widower, and the show, which hails from executive producers Bill Martin and Mike Schiff, is about Wade getting back on the horse and giving himself permission to live again after a year spent grieving his wife.
It is a role that involves Goggins stepping out of the box a bit. The actor has made a career of playing charismatic villains (Justified) or characters who exist in morally gray areas (The Shield), primarily on cable dramas that often, but not always, aired on FX. Goggins says the role of Wade is actually much closer to who he is in real life, and taking that on was a bit “unnerving.”
“I was really insecure about it,” Goggins, who lost his first wife in 2004, told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday. “This is closer to me than anything that I’ve ever played. It took me asking myself the question, can you pull that off? Can you pull off just being you? Once I got past that fear of it then I said yeah, no, this is what I think I’ve always wanted to play.”
“It was nice to step outside of hiding behind something,” he continued. “We’ll see where it goes. But it’s been liberating in a way, and very grounding. I’m very happy with this opportunity.”
Noting that he has a similar relationship with his son, Augustus (with wife Nadia Conners), and friends that Wade has with his two daughters and a close group of friends, Goggins said he was drawn to the material because of the writing. “When this came along, I just fell deeply in love with him and with his struggles. And I fell in love with his daughters and I fell in love with his friends and this community,” he said.
Adding that he is now at an age where he is tired of irony, Goggins is simply ready to focus on different things. “I am at a place in my life, at 48 years old, where kindness and sentimentality and being earnest are things that are very important to me. And this show kind of spoke to all of that.”
However, when asked if he was ready for everyone to fall in love with him or find him sexy just like Wade, Goggins isn’t so sure. “I’ve never been accused of being that handsome or that attractive. … I suppose if the circumstances make the man… I’ll take it.”
The Unicorn premieres Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8:30/7:30c on CBS.
Walton appeared on KTLA 5 Morning News this past Tuesday (July 30th) where he discussed his upcoming film Them That Follow and his new CBS sitcom The Unicorn. You can watch it out below:
The Orchard has released the official trailer for their upcoming thriller drama titled Them That Follow starring Academy Award-winning actress Olivia Colman (The Favourite) and Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) as Hope and Mara.
Deep in Appalachia, Pastor Lemuel Childs presides over an isolated community of serpent handlers, an obscure sect of Pentecostals who willingly take up venomous snakes to prove themselves before God. As his devoted daughter, Mara prepares for her wedding day, under the watchful eye of Hope Slaughter, a dangerous secret is unearthed and she is forced to confront the deadly tradition of her father’s church.
The film also stars Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart), Jim Gaffigan (Drunk Parents), Thomas Mann (Lady and the Tramp), Walton Goggins (Justified) and Lewis Pullman (Bad Times at the El Royale).
Them That Follow is written and directed by Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage. It produced by actor Gerard Butler, Bradley Gallo, Michael A. Helfant, Daniellle Robinson and Alan Siegel.
The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January. It is scheduled to have its theatrical release on August 2nd.
Walton Goggins on ‘Deep State’, the ‘L.A. Confidential’ Pilot, and ‘The Righteous Gemstones’
Collider.com — From co-creator/showrunner/writer/director Matthew Parkhill, the Epix drama series Deep State is a fast-moving espionage thriller that follows what happens after U.S. Special Forces are killed in an ambush in Mali, leaving it up to operative Nathan Miller (Walton Goggins) to find answers and resolve the situation, and to keep things business as usual in Washington, D.C. However, all is not as it seems, and it rarely is when it comes to the deep state, politics and government conspiracies.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Walton Goggins talked about the appeal of a project like Deep State, the challenges of making a solid thriller that spans three countries, understanding his character, why every day was a challenge, and what makes him and showrunner Matthew Parkhill soul brothers. He also talked about reuniting with Danny McBride for the HBO series The Righteous Gemstones (premiering in August), the heartbreak over the L.A. Confidential pilot ultimately not getting picked up, his upcoming half-hour comedy series The Unicorn (premiering in the fall on CBS), and which directors he’d love to work with.
Collider: This is definitely one of those exciting, edge-of-your-seat thrillers, where you wonder who’s going to make it out, by the end.
WALTON GOGGINS: I’m just so grateful for the opportunity, and for the invitation to come play on this kind of global experience. Matthew Parkhill, whom I’m now a very big fan of, both personally and professionally, was enamored with The Shield. It was one of his favorite shows. And also, Syriana is one of his favorite films. He is influenced by all of these stories that weave these multiple threads, and have these dense character arcs that overlap and intersect with one another. When he set out to do this, it’s very different than Season 1, and he wanted to layer in an origin story for the people that were there, from the beginning, and introduce this character, and then have him continue in the story. It’s very difficult to pull off something like that, but I think he did it. I was just so grateful and on board for whatever he had in his imagination.
It’s difficult to pull off a good thriller, and to make sure that the ending is just as good as the beginning.
GOGGINS: Yeah. And in some ways, the second season of any show, more often than not, is when you get the opportunity to broaden the definition of what a show is and can become, at least in my experience with both The Shield and Justified, although I think the first season of both were so unbelievably satisfying. And I feel that way about Deep State, and what it’s trying to say in Season 2. Season 1 was really about discovering that the Deep State exists, and Season 2 is about, “Okay, then what exactly is the Deep State? What are their motivations? How do they work? What becomes of the people that represent those institutions?” That’s where I got really excited. There’s a price to pay, morally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, for being an ambassador of institutions that ostensibly run the world,. That’s what you’re going to see, for this experience, from Nathan Miller.
It’s really interesting storytelling that we get to learn about your character and this team across two timelines, running concurrently throughout the season. You get to watch where he’s come from while seeing what he’s currently dealing with. Do you feel like that helps give the viewer an understanding of his motivations and actions, seeing those two timelines together?
GOGGINS: Yeah, I do. I think one would say that about themselves. If you explore a person two years ago, and you explore a person today, on the other side of a significant event in one’s life, you would be able to understand them more deeply. While that requires the viewer to be invested and on a level that is not unexpected really in today’s television landscape, it does give you a real interesting perspective on why a person has become who they’ve become, and it lets you do that pretty quickly. For the characters that I’ve had an opportunity to play in television, that’s taken six or seven years to reach those conclusions. By the end of this season, whatever you think of Nathan Miller, you will have a sped up timeline in which to view who he is and his place in the world, and that’s also for every single character in this story.
This is a show that was shot on location across three countries, and that also did a stint in the Sahara Desert. What’s the experience like, shooting something like this, in all of those places?
GOGGINS: For me, I have always wanted to be a part of a political thriller that intersected cultures, economics, and diverse interests from different groups. I haven’t gotten to play Jason Bourne in a movie, so for me, it was a dream come true. This is a story that takes place in three different countries, and there are seven different languages, with people from all over the world and one American, which is me. To step into that kind of sandbox is something that I’ve always wanted to play in, and it’s a show that’s not just made for a U.S. audience. It’s really made for all of the constituents that FOX International has, around the world. It has something for everyone. There are pebbles that are dropped into a lake, that make a very small wave, but that can turn into a tsunami. All of those waves intersect to bring about a change, which is sometimes for the greater good, and sometimes not for the greater good.
It seems like this was a shoot that was pretty high intensity with a lot of tension among the characters. Was there a hardest or most challenging day on this shoot? Were there days that were particularly challenging, especially depending on what locations you were in?
GOGGINS: Every day was challenging, and every day was exhilarating. Matthew Parkhill is a person not so different than myself. I think we’re soul brothers, in the way that he doesn’t like stages or sets that are built. He likes the reality of being in any given location. That really stimulates him. And so, when you don’t have the comfort of at least having a home base, and you’re moving every single day, for upwards of five months, that’s a challenge. That’s a challenge for the cast, the crew, and the directors. Matthew Parkhill created and wrote the show, and he directed half of it. And then, this wonderful British director, Joss Agnew, came onboard to direct the other half. And we had two DPs, Nic Lawson and Nick Dance, with all of the challenges that they faced. We all grew very tight, and it was about communicating in all of these different places. Some crew was there the whole time, but the crews changed, depending on which country we filmed in. It was an extraordinary struggle, really. It’s baffling that we were able to pull this off, for the budget that we pulled it off for, and all the while saying something that I think is really personal. It’s personal to me, I know it’s personal to Matthew Parkhill, and I think it’s personal to everyone involved.
I was so very thrilled to learn that you’d be reuniting with Danny McBride for The Righteous Gemstones because it would have been tragic, if you weren’t a part of that show. When and how did you find out that he wanted you to be a part of that series?
GOGGINS: He’s one of my best friends. Our experience together on Vice Principals formed a friendship that will last for the rest of my life, for sure. We talk all of the time, and we’ve been talking about this, for the better part of a year. For Danny, it was just figuring out, “Okay, well, how do we do this again? How do we do it in a way that isn’t repetitive of how we did it during Vice Principals? How do we fit in this story?” I won’t say much more than that. Suffice it to say, we’ve been talking about it for a long time, and when he found it in his magical imagination, it was perfect. He said, “I want you to play a 67-year-old man.” I said, “Damn, Danny, really? You want to sit in a make-up chair for how fuckin’ long?!” But, it worked and I’m so unbelievably happy. I am thrilled for this experience and what’s happening. It is so goddamn funny and so poignant, and it will cause a stir, in the way that Danny, Jody [Hill], and David Gordon Green do. They make big waves. There’s no place that I would rather be. It’s a real spiritual home for me, being with those gentlemen. Continue Reading →
HiddenRemote.com — Walton Goggins is one of the most tremendous actors of our generation, but Deep State may be his best performance yet.
Goggins joined the EPIX drama this season to portray fixer Nathan Miller, and he has brought so much to the international series. He’s carefully unraveled Miller, showing a man whose mission may be on a global scale, but has tremendous personal consequences. As the series tackles some big issues, Goggins has brilliantly zeroed in on the human collateral damage.
Ahead of tonight’s new episode, he spoke with Hidden Remote about following in the footsteps of the talented Mark Strong, how he’s worked with the cast and crew to craft Miller’s story and how Deep State compares to his previous roles on series like Justified and The Shield.
Learn more in our interview with Walton Goggins below, then don’t miss a new episode of Deep State tonight on EPIX at 9 p.m. ET/PT. You can find how to watch EPIX here.
Hidden Remote: Deep State is such an underrated show, and it’s different in that it’s an international production, too. What was it about the series that made you sign on to star in season 2?
Walton Goggins: I have always wanted to be a part of a world like this. I’ve always wanted to explore politics on a global level and the way the world works, or a hypothetical of how the world works. I’m a big fan of a filmmaker out of the UK called Adam Curtis, and it just kind of makes you think about the world we live in—the flow of money, and the confluence of different interests and different points of view.
I thought that Matthew Parkhill, our creator, what he had done with the first three scripts that I read was unbelievable. How are you doing that? How are you pulling that off? He was a big fan of The Shield, actually, which [is] always a good thing when somebody likes your work and I liked the way his mind works. So when they asked me to come on board, I said yeah, I’ll go wherever you want me to go.
I’m a better man for it. I’m a better human being for it. We had an incredible experience. It’s something to be part of a show that takes place over three countries, seven different languages, and you’re the only American involved. That’s pretty cool.
HR: The first season had its own story and some, though not all, different characters. So did you watch season 1 or did you want to treat season 2 as its own separate entity?
WG: I’m a huge fan of [season 1 star] Mark Strong and a lot of the other actors; Alistair Petrie, I’ve followed his career for a really long time. And I felt that it was really necessary to understand [the] tone and Matthew, what his visuals are like and how his language is interpreted visually.
So that’s always important to do that…It was important to understand what the story was—and then to throw all that away the best you can and do your own version of it.
HR: Nathan Miller is a man who is on top of his game, but it’s also taking its toll. What would you say people need to know or look for about your character as we get further into Deep State season 2?
WG: The term “deep state” has become part of pop culture. The Illuminati has been around for however long for as long as they’ve been around, and this is a person who works for this organization and is a fixer for this organization. Ihe process of doing that, he will become morally compromised, and he will become spiritually compromised, and he will become physically compromised.
If you like tension and you are attracted to deep character development, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t as an actor. I hold these stories up to a high standard to be involved in, and I’m really satiated and satisfied with how every percent of this story evolves over the course of the eight episodes.
I think it’s extraordinary, really. It’s hard to pull off a show that takes place in three different countries and seven different languages, it’s very difficult to do that with two different timelines, and I think we did it.
HR: You’re no stranger to playing complicated, often morally grey characters. How does Miller compare to people like Shane Vendrell from The Shield or Boyd Crowder on Justified?
WG: It’s right up there with them. It’s in that race, all the way up to the last thing that Miller says in this story. [That]’s as profound and personal to me as any last words of any character that I’ve ever been given an opportunity to play. It reverberated at the room at the time. It was so deeply emotionally impacting.
It’s one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I would say that about a lot of experiences I’ve had. I’m a very lucky man. I’ve been given great opportunities over the course of my career, and this is another one.
HR: Deep State has so many layers, whether it’s the secrets that come out as a spy thriller or the many facets of your character. Did you want or need to know the entirety of the arc going into filming?
WG: I’m at a place in my career where that’s imperative. I don’t want surprises. I don’t want secrets. I’m not a person that lives his life that way, and so I need to know everything. What I mean by that is if [there] happens to be a discussion that happens before the finale is written, I want to have that discussion.
What I try to do, and I think what a lot of people I look up to really try to do, is be emotionally pure—that it is an authentic point of view. Iit’s not contrived or gratuitous, but it is inherent to the emotional and spiritual journey this person I’m playing would go through. This show was no different.
And I like collaboration. I think I’m a really good collaborator and I let whoever I’m working with know that up front, and Matthew really liked my ideas. Once he told me exactly what he wanted to say, I trust him and I trust the people I work with, but we talked about the finale of this show and four or five different options for what he wanted to say from the very beginning. As long as we say something at the end of five months of experience.
I think my time is very valuable. [This is] time I’ve taken away from my child and my family, my friends, my wife. So it better be for a reason that I can say to my child that this is what I was doing. This is why your father was away. Matthew is a person that wants to say something, and he did it.
HR: How do you look back on the experience of Deep State season 2?
WG: I came into this world. It was already set up when I came into it. And all of the other actors on this show—Alistair Petrie and Joe Dempsie and Karima McAdams and Anastasia Griffith—these are incredible actors who have an incredible story that they’re also protective of and it unfolds for them how it unfolds for them.
But I suppose for me and Nathan Miller, that there is a price to pay for compromising oneself morally. I hope that it will be as emotionally impactful to the audience as it was for me, because it came from the heart of the people that created this experience in the first place.
CBS Orders Comedy Series ‘The Unicorn’
CBS Orders Comedy Series ‘The Unicorn’
Deadline.com — CBS has made its new comedy series picks, giving orders to the four most buzzed about pilots: Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins’ Carol’s Second Act, starring Patricia Heaton; Chuck Lorre’s Bob Hearts Abishola, headlined by Billy Gardell; Alex Herschlag and Jennie Snyder Urman’s Broke, starring Jaime Camil and Pauley Perrette; and Bill Martin and Mike Schiff’s The Unicorn, headlined by Walton Goggins.
This marks the return to CBS of two stars of successful comedy series on the network, Heaton, who was on Everybody Loves Raymond, and Gardell, one of the stars of Lorre’s Mike & Molly, as well as of NCIS fan favorite Perrette.
Both Carol’s Second Act and The Unicorn come from Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, which also has freshman CBS comedy series The Neighborhood, already renewed for next season, and bubble CBS comedy series Life In Pieces and Fam. It gives Kapital a 2-for-2 record with its CBS pilots this year.
The Unicorn, which originated as single-camera before being converted to multi-camera and back to single-camera, will mark CBS’ first single-camera comedy series since Young Sheldon.
The order for Bob Hearts Abishola will keep Lorre’s CBS series tally at 3 following the pending departure of The Big Bang Theory. He also has Mom and Young Sheldon, both renewed for the next two seasons.
Here are detailed descriptions and credits for CBS’ newly picked up comedy series:
On the drama side, CBS just picked up to series Robert and Michelle King’s Evil, Dick Wolf’s FBI: Most Wanted spinoff and legal drama All Rise from writer Greg Spottiswood.
THE UNICORN (Single Cam)
EPs/Writers: Bill Martin, Mike Schiff
EPs: Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor (Kapital Entertainment), Wendi Trilling, Peyton Reed
EP/Director: John Hamburg (pilot only)
STUDIO: CBS Television Studios
LOGLINE: A tight-knit group of friends and family help a widower move on following the most difficult year of his life, which includes being an ill-equipped but devoted single parent to his two daughters, and taking the major step of dating where, to his shock, he’s a hot commodity.
CAST: Walton Goggins, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Omar Benson Miller, Maya Lynne Robinson, Ruby Jay, Makenzie Moss
Deadline.com — Vice Principals alum Walton Goggins will re-team with his former co-star Danny McBride on McBride’s new HBO comedy series The Righteous Gemstones. Goggins is set for a recurring role on the series, on which McBride also stars along with John Goodman.
Written, directed and EP’ed by McBride, The Righteous Gemstones tells the story of a world-famous televangelist family with a long tradition of deviance, greed and charitable work.
Goggins will play Baby Billy, a former child star who clogged and sang for Jesus. As an aging man, he’s fallen on hard times and comes to the Gemstones for salvation.
Cast also includes Edi Patterson, Adam Devine, Cassidy Freeman, Tony Cavalero, Tim Baltz and GregAlan Williams.
McBride executive produces with his Rough House Pictures partners Jody Hill and David Gordon Green. The trio were behind the McBride-starring baseball comedy Eastbound & Down, which aired on HBO from 2010-13.
Goggins won a Critics’ Choice award for his role as Lee Russell opposite McBride’s Neal Gamby in Vice Principals, which aired for two seasons on HBO. He currently stars on contemporary espionage thriller Deep State. The series premieres its second season on April 28 in the U.S. and will air on Fox Networks Group in the UK and across 50 countries in Europe and Africa in early May. Goggins also just wrapped shooting the lead role on CBS comedy pilot The Unicorn.
Walton Goggins To Headline CBS Comedy Pilot ‘The Unicorn’ As It Reverts To Single-Camera Format
Deadline.com — Justified and Vice Principals alum Walton Goggins has been set at the lead of The Unicorn, CBS’ half-hour comedy pilot from Fam co-executive producers Bill Martin and Mike Schiff, Kapital Entertainment and CBS TV Studios.
The project, originally developed as a single-camera, was picked up to pilot as a multi-camera. It underwent conversion and tapped veteran multi-camera helmer James Burrows to direct. Now The Unicorn will be reverting to its original single-camera format with a new director. It is the only single-camera comedy pilot at CBS this season; all others are multi-camera/hybrid.
Written by Martin and Schiff and inspired by a true story, The Unicorn centers on a recent widower (Goggins) who is eager to move on from the most difficult year of his life, only to realize he’s utterly unprepared to raise his two daughters on his own and equally unprepared for the dating world — where, to his shock, he’s suddenly a hot commodity.
Goggins’ character, a devoted father to two adolescent girls, is a big-hearted open-book of a guy, but without his wife, he’s finding himself at sea. When his friends persuade him to start dating again, he discovers to his shock that he’s kind of a hot commodity — if only he knew what the heck he was doing.
Goggins, who was pursued for multiple pilots this season, earned an Emmy nomination for his co-starring role on FX drama series Justified and also had a major role on History’s Six. On the comedy side, he starred on the HBO series Vice Principals, landing a Critics’ Choice Award last year. This is the second consecutive CBS/CBS Studios pilot for Goggins, who starred in the well-received drama L.A. Confidentiallast season. He also guest starred last season on CBS’ top comedy series The Big Bang Theory.Martin and Schiff executive produce with Kapital Entertainment’s Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor and Wendi Trilling — who has a pod deal at Kapital — and Ant-Man and the Wasp director Peyton Reed. CBS TV Studios is the studio.
Goggins is the star and executive producer of the upcoming eight-episode second season of the espionage drama Deep State, which airs on Epix in the US. His recent feature credits include Tomb Raider and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Goggins, who next will be seen in Them That Follow, which premiered at Sundance, is repped by ICM Partners and Darris Hatch Management & Production.