We talk to Danny McBride and Walton Goggins from HBO’s Vice Principals about being treated like their characters, typecasting, & wild fans.
Video: Danny McBride and Walton Goggins Share Their Wildest Fan Stories on ‘Desus & Mero’
Video: Danny McBride and Walton Goggins Share Their Wildest Fan Stories on ‘Desus & Mero’
WALTON GOGGINS: Yeah. It was a lot to be incarcerated for 14 hours a day, with your arms bound and your feet bound. I’m sure someone will do a YouTube of how many times Rip Taggart was hit. It was tough, mentally. I had a cappuccino at the beginning of the day and the middle of the day, and a beer at the end of the day, but you feel just a portion of the pain that people have gone through, in those circumstances. What an incredible experience. It was a real cathartic journey.
How did you read this script, see what it would put you through, and then say, “Yes, sign me up for that!”?
GOGGINS: I didn’t. I replaced Joe [Manganiello]. When Joe fell out, they said, “Let’s go to Walton.” I had a long conversation with them about it and, for me, I felt like I had an opportunity to really honor the struggle of men and women in our armed services, in a way that wasn’t political and it wasn’t about America. It was about the individual, and I think that that’s been neglected in the conversation. It was also a chance to have what has taken me upwards of six and seven years (with Justified and The Shield), respectively, that kind of a journey in eight episodes.
Whenever you hear stories about SEAL teams and their missions, you feel a sense of appreciation for what they do, but it’s hard to fully grasp what a job like that puts you through, physically and mentally. What most helped you in grasping just what being a SEAL really entails?
GOGGINS: Mitchell Hall was our tech advisor on Six. It was not with him, but I had a long conversation with a Navy SEAL, on my own, and he became a very good friend of mine. I noticed his behavior, early on, and something he was doing to compensate was curious to me. I had an opportunity to talk to him and he said, “You can ask me anything you want.” I said, “I’m only going to ask you one question, and either you’ll answer me honestly or you won’t. And if you don’t answer honestly, I completely understand and I really don’t have anything else to say. But if you do answer honestly, I have a feeling that you and I are going to be here drinking whiskey for a long time, and we’re really going to get into it.” I asked him the question and he answered me honestly, and then the conversation began. He let me see behind his curtain. He let me touch his humanity and experience how his humanity was affected by everything that he saw and that was asked of him. He’s an incredible human being. Most of us will never, ever experience the decisions they have to make in one day of their lives, let alone every moment of every day, and that affects everything around them.
These men and women in our armed services are expected to perform, both mentally and physically, in an arena of war, and also pay their cable bill and their house payment. I don’t understand how those two realities exist in the same space. It’s hard for me, and I’m just a storyteller. It’s hard for a guy or a woman who works from 9 to 5, every day, and certainly it’s much more difficult when you’re in these situations and you’re asked to fight for your country. I felt that it was very important to honor that struggle, in a way that took it out of politics and the flag and the message of your country. I wanted to just honor the individual, and I’m really proud of it.
When you see where this goes and you see this existential journey and you see this stalwart walk from this man who genuinely doesn’t want to deal with anything and who is forced to deal with all of it, and what he learns on the other side of that journey and what he learns along the way and what he teaches people along the way, it was special. I hope there’s a returning service man or woman that is able to see it and say, “You know what? That fucking guy cares about me. Those showrunners care about me. Those other actors on that show and the guy behind the camera and that director care about me.” That’s a good thing. Continue Reading →
Walton Goggins On Why He Doesn’t Want His New Navy SEAL Drama ‘Six’ To ‘Be A Piece Of Propaganda’
Walton Goggins On Why He Doesn’t Want His New Navy SEAL Drama ‘Six’ To ‘Be A Piece Of Propaganda’
What was your read on the character when you first encountered the material? He seems to square with the morally suspect types that you often play.
You know, I had a conversation with the creators immediately — there wasn’t a lot of time after I replaced another actor who was in that role, so I didn’t have a lot of time to really make my decision. I just said, “I’m not interested in being used as a piece of propaganda for American war policy.” Honoring the struggles of these men and women outside of the context of the country that they’re fighting for — I want to speak to them. I want to tell their story. I feel like that’s what they had written, and they said, “That’s exactly what we want to do when it comes to you.” They gave me a seat at the table and we had this beautiful collaboration over eight episodes, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life, to be quite honest with you.
Your statement about not wanting this to be military propaganda is interesting. What exactly did you have in mind when you said that?
Well, I think that there are ways of telling stories like this that are about a true honoring or celebration of sacrifice for the people that we, America, ask to defend our country on a daily basis. I think there’s a time for that, there’s a place for that — then there’s also a place for not making it about you. What I mean by that is, by not making it about just America. Not having it be about you, [but] having it be about these people independent of you and looking at them and understanding really what it is they’re going through without just a cursory pat on the back saying, “Thank you for your service.”
Do you feel like Six has a political perspective, in terms of being anti-war or critical of American foreign policy?
No, I don’t, which I think is its saving grace. There is no political soapbox that it’s standing on, one way or the other. It’s not for or against anything. It is just with a microscope, dissecting the experience of [war]. I think that that’s the best way to reach anybody. In our volatile political system right now, I don’t think anybody wants to talk about it anymore, whatever side you’re on. I certainly don’t. I’m ready to get past it and look at individuals and look at their struggle and tell stories from that point of view.
I don’t want to divulge any spoilers, so let’s just say your character goes through quite a physical ordeal. Was this a hard shoot? Was it as hard to shoot as it to watch?
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I think there’s not a person that you would speak to that was involved in this project that wouldn’t say the same thing. For me, it was a process of being incarcerated for 15 hours a day and getting hit all day, every day, with my hands tied behind my back, man. I know, just in my imagination, how demoralizing and dehumanizing that is, and I’m just an actor, man — who can get a cappuccino if I needed to. But people have and probably will continue to have this experience. This experience is, on a number of levels, translated in a number of different ways, but it was very, very, very difficult. Mentally very difficult. Physically, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
I wanted to ask about Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who are executive producers of Six, and also were involved in the films you made with Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. Was it their idea to get you involved in Six?
Yeah, I got a phone call from Harvey and he said, “Walton, I need you, man, and the story needs you.” I can’t tell you what it feels like for an actor to be at a restaurant with Harvey Weinstein, let alone get an incoming phone call from a man of his stature. It meant a great deal to me and I care for the man deeply and I took what he said to heart, you know, and answered that call. Not solely because of that, but because of that and because of Bill [Broyles] and Bruce [McKenna] and David [Broyles], and this cast, and this network. The History Channel really wanted to do something that they hadn’t done before, and to be bold in this next step.
Most importantly, I wanted to honor the people that have made this commitment. You know, I come from the South, man, and I would say that seven out of my 10 friends growing up all went into the service. It’s just what you did. My education lay elsewhere, and I went out West when all of my buddies went East in the Gulf War. I heard them. I’ve heard what it was like for them — even those that didn’t see battle, what it was like for them.
It was a real opportunity to say thank you. I hope in “insert-airport-terminal anywhere in the world” going forward, that they will come up and they’ll say, “Hey, man, thank you for giving a sh*t. Thank you for caring.”
Walton Discusses New Show ‘SIX’ with NewsDay.com
Walton Discusses New Show ‘SIX’ with NewsDay.com
You were cast in this physically demanding role just days after Joe Manganiello had to be replaced because of a pre-existing health issue. How do you prepare mentally and physically to jump in like that?
My acting teachers are storytellers — they don’t even use the word “acting,” really, in their philosophy — and the last one I studied with, who is a dear old friend of mine by the name of Harry Masters, taught me that when you don’t have time, you don’t need time, really, if you’re able to turn yourself over to that set of circumstances and play pretend. My almost-6-year-old [son Augustus, with filmmaker wife Nadia Conners] is Laurence Olivier in his ability to play. Most children are like that. So I had a conversation with . . . [the producer] about Rip and about in what context I wanted to participate. I wanted to make sure they were on board for that.
What did you tell them?
Well, just that I don’t want to be used as a piece of propaganda for American foreign policy. I don’t want to go through this experience and have what I want to contribute to it politicized. For the right or the left. I want to speak to the returning soldier, man or woman, who has experienced conflict firsthand and I want to honor their struggle. And I don’t want to do it by saying, “You’re an incredible American” and “You’re a patriot.” I want to say, “You are a human being and you’re experiencing pain, and it’s real pain, and I want to listen to your pain. I don’t want to just pat you on the back.”
Did the producers revise the script?
We modified some ways of shooting scenes in the first three episodes, which is what they had written by that point. You know, you can say, “I love you” a million different ways, can’t you? It’s not in the words — it’s in your intention. And then I think that going forward these conversations gave [the producer] real parameters for what this experience could be. I think what it did was fundamentally change everything that happened after it.
That kind of happened on “The Shield,” where the network wanted your character removed after the pilot, and “Justified,” where Boyd Crowder was supposed to die in the pilot. But something about you changed minds.
With “The Shield,” the people who ran FX at the time hated me, man! I don’t know how you could hate somebody when I only had four lines, but [series creator] Sean [Ryan] said, “Listen, I know this guy, I’ve seen him, he’s special and I know what to do with him.” So episode two was really about [Goggins’ character] Shane. They saw it and said, “Wow, we’re sorry. We love him.”
And with “Justified,” [star] Tim [Olyphant] had such a good time and the rapport back and forth and what the characters’ friendship could mean over the course of a story — people really responded to that. They asked me to come back and we had a long conversation about it and I said, “I just want autonomy over the character and this part of the story,” and they agreed.
I have to ask: What was it like your first day on a Quentin Tarantino set?
My first day on “Django” was surreal . . . I’ll never forget. It was a big scene that ultimately got cut out of the movie, and the camera’s on me and Quentin yells, “Action” — and nothing comes out of my mouth! I’m looking at all these people and I just said, “I’m in a [expletive] Quentin Tarantino movie!”
Oh, yeah — absolutely! And they all started laughing and then it was, “OK — take two.”
Walton Goggins is an actor who makes whatever he’s in better just by being there. Every film or TV series is improved when it has Goggins. It’s impossible to look at his work and not be a fan, and I’m glad he’s been able to find success over his career. Earlier this month, he landed arguably one of the biggest roles of his career thus far when he nabbed the villain role in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. Getting to play the antagonist in a blockbuster film is no small feat, and Goggins has already played some incredibly memorable baddies in his career.
Christina Radish recently spoke to Goggins about his upcoming History Channel series Six (which premieres January 18th), and during their conversation, he talked a little about what appealed to him about this new adaptation of the popular video game franchise:
The idea of a Tomb Raider reboot became interesting when Alicia Vikander was cast as Lara Croft, but it became even more interesting when you were announced as the villain, or antagonist. What was it about this telling of the Tomb Raider story that spoke to you?
GOGGINS: I’m just so excited about it! I’m such a big fan of Alicia and this director, Roar [Uthaug]. Quite honestly, the script feels like it’s already been in the world, in some ways. The structure and the foundation of this story is so solid and so interesting. It’s so unbelievably entertaining, and yet it’s real in the journey that it takes you on. And this person that I get to play is confused and angry and desperate. I’m just looking forward to getting in his head. I’m really, really, really excited about it.
Goggins then talked about what it is about villain roles that he finds so appealing, and he provided a thoughtful breakdown of how he goes about choosing any role, whether the character is good or evil.
When you play antagonists that are so memorable that they’re thought of alongside the story’s protagonist when people think of that particular TV show or movie, does it give you pause when the next one comes up?
GOGGINS: Yeah, I suppose. On one level, I think about it in those terms. In another way, I just go where the work is and where people are extremely passionate about telling their story and where they’re capable filmmakers, no matter how long they’ve been doing it. It’s about whether they understand what it is that they’re asking themselves to do and whether they really want to say something. That’s always been my motivation. This thing that I did after Six, Three Christs, I don’t know if there’s an antagonist in the bunch. Maybe schizophrenia is the antagonist, or maybe it’s how we view those that aren’t like ourselves. Maybe that’s the antagonist. It was just an incredible opportunity. And Tomb Raider is an incredible opportunity. People have only seen the first season of Vice Principals, but when you see where the show goes, there’s so much more than whether or not those are bad guys. That’s what I’m interested in playing, regardless of what side he’s on. I’ve had some opportunities lately to play the hero, and they just haven’t been about the right thing. They haven’t spoken to me, in that way. But Six certainly did, and Three Christs did, and lord knows that Tomb Raider did.
Goggins also talked about how it was a variety of factors that led to him signing on for Tomb Raider:
When Tomb Raider came your way, was it the script that sold you on it, or did you also wanted to talk to director Roar Uthaug first?
GOGGINS: It was threefold, to be quite honest with you. I think Alicia is one of the greatest actors of any generation, let alone her own. And I saw Roar’s movie The Wave last year, and I wanted to meet that filmmaker. And then, it was the script. It always starts with the story for me. I couldn’t believe I was reading what I was reading. I couldn’t believe that it continued in this way, and the ball was never really dropped. It was the combination of those three things. I understand why Alicia signed on for it. Those things don’t happen every day. And then, you go forward and you just try not to be result-oriented and you try to do the best job you can possibly do, before you move on to the next one. It’s a good life! I’m just grateful to be a small part of that life.
We’re still waiting on the first successful video game adaptation, and there’s no reason it can’t be Tomb Raider. It’s got two strong lead actors with Vikander and Goggins, Uthaug showed he had directing chops with The Wave, and if there’s a good script, it could make for a solid adventure film.
Tomb Raider opens March 16, 2018.
Vanity Fair: TV’s Favorite Villain, Walton Goggins, On Braces, Pratfalls, and ‘Vice Principals’
V.F.com: Hi! How are you?
Walton Goggins: It’s good being back in California. I’ve been in North Carolina for like two months as a prisoner of war. Fuck, man! It’s been very . . . Wow. God, what a tough experience. We’re not here to talk about that. How are you?
I’m great! I’ve seen the first six episodes of Vice Principals!
Wow, the first six? Fantastic. Season 1 is about who these people are, and Season 2 is why they are who they are. It’s tough to be that fucking mean. Lee Russell is way meaner than Boyd Crowder. He comes around.
You’ve always been hilarious on Justified, and Sons of Anarchy but would you consider this your first full-blown comedy?
I do, yeah, even though Danny, and Jody, and David Gordon Green would say that they only make dramas that happen to be funny. Once you look at this in the spring semester—because it really is a fall semester and a spring semester, and it’s one story, it’s one piece with different movements to it. It’s pretty fucking dark in a satiating way, and, hopefully, I think it’s funny.
Were you nervous at all to dive fully into the comedy genre?
I was studying Vice Principals while I was doing The Hateful Eight, and I got on a plane the day that we wrapped. After a 24-hour day I went straight to the airport and jumped on a plane, and landed in Charleston, and at ten o’clock at night went home and got my hair dyed. I got my tips done until one o’clock in the morning, and started work at six o’clock the next morning.
I was as intimidated as anything I’ve ever done, and in some ways probably more so because the idea of improv-ing with Danny McBride was—fuck, man—I just couldn’t sleep at night. He’s so smart, and their humor is so specific. I didn’t want to let him down; I didn’t want to let HBO down. It’s a lot to step into that ring with the roughhouse boys and how they do their things. Kenny Powers is an iconic character, and to play at that level I think would be intimidating for anybody.
How much improvising did you wind up doing?
Daily. All day long. That was the hardest part of this entire experience for me, I think for both of us, was containing the laughter. You just look at Bill Murray. It’s Meatballs! That’s my guy! That was really the hardest part. We would go on these tangents that would take us in places that were sublime, but then we would always come back to the text. Most of it is as it was scripted, as Danny wrote.
What about the physical comedy? Was that a new muscle that you had to learn?
I would be curious to hear what a comedian has to say about that, because I don’t look at it in those terms. If I thought about it as, “I need to be physically funny,” then I don’t think that I could have done it. I think I would have been too self-conscious. It’s no different than Boyd Crowder, or [The Hateful Eight’s] Chris Mannix, or [Sons of Anarchy’s] Venus Van Dam, or anybody else. It’s just, if you’re true to who this person is, and you understand who this person is, and they are an authentic human being in the world, a heightened, at times, person in the world, then the way that they walk, and the way that they talk, and they way that they interact, all of that is a part of it, is a part of the situation that lives in your imagination.
You talked about Kenny Powers being an iconic character. You auditioned for Eastbound and Down, right? Which role?
I auditioned for the role that Jason Sudeikis wound up getting. I had braces on at the time, and I had just wrapped a season of Justified. I took that time to take care of some personal business, and I had these braces on and I wasn’t taking a job for four or five months. So I got these braces on my teeth and then they called and it was like, “Fuck it, I’m not taking the braces off, I need to get my teeth fixed. I’ve been putting this off a long time, so fuck it, he’ll love it.”
I walked into this room with my braces on, and my fucking shorts on, and some white tube socks. I walked in and there were me and four comedians from Saturday Night Live, and it was like, “Well, this is never going to happen.” That’s Jason, that’s so-and-so, this is crazy. I had a great time, and we had a lot of chemistry. I just talked to him philosophically about Kenny Powers and what that means. What does Kenny Powers mean, from my own fanboy opinion.
He tolerated my opinion, and we actually really got along. I had always wanted to work with Danny. I’ve been a fan of his ever since The Foot Fist Way,, and I thought that I got his comedy and that we could do something really unique together. I always wanted to just jump in the sandbox with him. That was the treat. Even though the opportunity didn’t ultimately happen at that stage, it was still a fucking thrill to be in the room with him and to go through his story. I just think Eastbound and Down* was one of the most exciting, dangerous comedies to come out in a very long time. Continue Reading →
Walton Goggins celebrated last holiday season as part of “The Hateful Eight,” Quentin Tarantino’s brutal western involving a pair of bounty hunters, a female fugitive, a band of outlaws and others holed up at a stagecoach lodge. By the final reel, Goggins, as the racist incoming sheriff of a town called Red Rock, was neck deep in bloody mayhem.
The role in many respects was an extension of a gallery of multidimensional bad guys Goggins has played since his breakthrough as a member of a rogue police unit in the landmark FX drama “The Shield.”
Armed with a wide smile that is simultaneously disarming and sinister, Goggins has stamped his smooth-yet-charming menace on many other projects, including “Justified” and Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” He also surprised viewers with his humorous but poignant portrayal of the transgender character Venus Van Dam on the biker drama “Sons of Anarchy.”
On Sunday, Goggins goes from “The Hateful Eight” to a “hateful two” in HBO’s “Vice Principals,” in which high school administrators Lee Russell and Neal Gamby (Goggins and Danny McBride), who despise each other, join forces to bring down their new boss, the outwardly pleasant Dr. Belinda Brown (Kimberly Hebert Gregory).
“Vice Principals,” created by McBride and Jody Hill as a follow-up to their previous HBO comedy “Eastbound & Down,” is a revelation for Goggins watchers, representing both his first major lead and a distinct change of pace — the only body part he’s taking aim at this time is the funny bone.
But just because Goggins is showing a lighter side doesn’t mean he’s fooling around.
“While I haven’t done an outright comedy, I don’t think Danny and Jody make comedies,” Goggins, 44, said recently. “I think they make dramas that happen to be funny. [Danny] did not want to hire a comedian to go on this journey with him. He wanted to hire an actor who has been given an opportunity to be funny in a lot of dramas. And we do have a real chemistry together.” Continue Reading →
“Can you believe I have a fucking pool?”
Walton Goggins is showing me the lush backyard of his 1922 French Tudor home in the Hollywood Hills on a hot June afternoon in Los Angeles. Even after living in the house for five years, he still can’t believe he actually lives here. “I mean, this pool was carved into the mountain,” says Goggins, whose lingering Georgia accent infuses every declaration with the earnestness of a Southern preacher. “I’ve been gone a lot lately, so anytime we’re all together as a family, we’re out here. It’s our own little paradise, you know?”
As Goggins takes our tour inside, we are greeted by his cherubic 5-year-old son, Augustus, and wife, writer-director Nadia Conners, who kisses Goggins newly bearded face — a makeover due to his upcoming role in History Channel’s Navy Seal drama Six, filming in North Carolina — before she rushes off to a meeting. “I wake up every morning with one of the smartest people I have ever met,” he gushes about Conners. “I have unfettered access to her brain; a very specific, all-encompassing worldview every single day. I’m truly the luckiest son of a bitch in Hollywood.”
To call him lucky in Hollywood would be to skip past the 25 years he’s spent playing That Guy. He logged countless supporting roles in indie films (The Apostle), studio movies (Cowboys & Aliens), and cable dramas (The Shield, Justified) before finding a crazy fan in Quentin Tarantino. The director shifted Goggins’s career into overdrive by casting him in 2012’s Django Unchained and in last year’s The Hateful Eight, telling Vulture last fall, “Watching him for six years [on Justified] do faux-Quentin dialogue let me know that he’s got the right kind of tongue.”
This week, Goggins, 45, returns to TV for his biggest (and most ridiculous) role yet in HBO’s latest entry from Eastbound & Down creators Danny McBride and Jody Hill, Vice Principals — an 18-episode, two-season comedy about two Southern high-school administrators, Lee and Neal (Goggins and McBride, respectively), who channel their loathing for each other into taking down the school principal. Goggins spoke with Vulture about how growing up poor and as an only child in the South led him to acting, how he fought his way into Hollywood, and why he “loves” Harvey Weinstein.
What appealed to you about HBO’s Vice Principals?
I truly think Danny McBride is Woody Allen for fly-over America. But Vice Principals isn’t as adolescent as Eastbound & Bound. But then again, remember the end of Eastbound’s first season when Kenny Powers leaves his girlfriend at the convenience store? Shit! Kenny is a fucking flawed human being. That’s why it all works. And Danny and Jody are always walking that line. I really believe what they do is sublime. Vice Principals also gets fucking dark. Dark and deep.
It’s also arguably the most over-the-top comedic material you’ve ever done. Is it a different exercise for you playing a part like this?
I actually feel like I’ve been doing comedy forever. The Shield was actually one of the funniest shows on television. Justified was another level of comedic intelligence. It was Elmore Leonard–sophisticated humor.
Elmore wrote the way we wish people really spoke.
Yeah, exactly. And Quentin does the same thing. His sense of humor feels like it can take place inside a bar or at the Met Museum. Similarly, Danny’s sense of humor is as adolescent as you can get, but when you look behind the curtain, there’s a lot going on. It’s extremely sophisticated.
How does it feel, after 25 years in Hollywood, to no longer be struggling or be seen only as “that Southern guy with the spiky hair?” I mean, you’re on Quentin Tarantino’s actor roster now.
It’s incredible, but mostly a total fucking relief not having to work so hard just to get a seat at the table. Playing Boyd Crowder [in Justified] was actually a real cross to bear for me personally; he was a real mantle I was carrying for a long time, and in order to rise above the stereotypical portrayal of Southern people as …
Rednecks and white trash.
Yeah. I’m proud of Boyd because I feel like I was able to educate people in urban areas about the struggles that people have in rural America. And then to have moments, like I did at Comic-Con for Django, where I’m sitting on the dais with Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, and just like, How the fuck did I get here? What is happening right now? I’ve had a lot of those in my career: “moments of manifestation,” I call them. Doing Shanghai Noon with Owen Wilson was one of those. Bottle Rocket was one of my favorite movies, and as soon as I saw it I thought, “I’m just gonna focus on this dude. I want to work with this guy.” And I did.
So Bottle Rocket comes out in 1996 while you’re in L.A. still looking for your big break as an actor. How did you pay the bills?
Well, first I refused to work in a restaurant. [Laughs.] Nothing against waiters and waitresses, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to be that actor in L.A. having conversations with other actors about acting. I usually run away from those things. I generally don’t hang out with actors in between takes. I’m an only child, so I’ve always been off in a corner somewhere. I think it’s actually taken some learning to know how to be around other people. But the one thing I never had a problem with was listening. My mother was a great listener. And so I never had to compete for her attention because I was an only child.
What did your parents do for work when you were growing up?
My mother made $12,000 a year working for the State of Georgia in Workers Comp. My father sold insurance. But my parents divorced when I was 3. He and I had an on-off relationship for most of my life. So growing up it was me, my mom, and father’s father, oddly enough. He was the one consistent male figure in my life. I was the apple of his eye. I was mostly raised by extraordinary, highly dysfunctional, crazy Southern women. My mother’s mother was an actress in New Orleans in the 1930s. She met my grandfather and moved to Warm Springs, Georgia, and he was good friends with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He had a thousand acres growing peaches and pulpwood. They had this beautiful life, and my mother and her three sisters were born into it. My mother remembers Roosevelt stopping in the yard saying, “Hiya, neighbor!” Then they went from this incredible cultured bucolic life to my grandfather dying from diabetes in my mother’s arms when she was 14. Then the house burned down, my grandmother went insane. She was a nurse and got addicted to amphetamines because of the grief of losing her husband and raising four girls ages 4 to 17. It’s a passel of amazing fucking stories. I had a front row seat to the real Steel Magnolias. But we were all fucking black sheep.
Who first introduced to you to the arts and performing?
Another aunt of mine wound up being a publicist for B.B. King, Phyllis Diller, and Wolfman Jack. But because my mom had me when she was 23, after they had lost everything, all we really had arts-wise was a lot of storytelling. Our family time was never about TV or cinema. And a whole bunch of her friends were always stopping by. There was a dude named Rabbit who was a locksmith and a small-time pot dealer who’d park his van in our yard, open our windows, and use our electricity to make his keys. Another dude named Be-Bop was also always there. He gave me my first job —selling hope chests for young girls who wanted to get married. [Laughs.]
Did you act at all in high school?
No, but I grew up watching another aunt perform on stage from the time I was 6. I stayed with her while she was doing dinner theater, and I’d see these beautiful women changing backstage, the whole life, the bohemian lifestyle, the reaction from the audience and thought, “I want to do that. It’s very powerful.” So I went to this casting director’s office in Atlanta, a woman named Chez Griffin — I didn’t have an appointment, so my mother drove me down there, I was only 14 — and I knocked on her door and said, “I want to talk to Chez. My name is Walton Sanders Goggins Jr. I don’t need an appointment. Just tell her.” And she came out and said, “Okay, who is this kid?” I told her, “I don’t know how to do this, but I know that I’ve had an interesting life, and I know that I feel things deeply. With some guidance and help, I can do this.” And she said okay. Then I started working in Georgia, and did a movie in 1990 called Murder in Mississippi.
You read a little of what Walton had to say, but be sure to check out the interivew in it’s entirety over at NYTimes.com
For Mr. McBride’s slick, bowtie-clad nemesis, Lee Russell, the creators turned to Mr. Goggins, a star of “Justified,” “The Shield” and “The Hateful Eight,” who had once auditioned for an “Eastbound & Down” role that went to Jason Sudeikis of “Saturday Night Live.”
(As Mr. Goggins recalled of that encounter: “I got to the meeting, and it was me and five ex-‘S.N.L.’ guys. What am I doing here, really?”)
This time, Mr. Goggins said he was still eager to work with Mr. McBride, who he called “a Woody Allen for flyover America,” and to tell a story about “the absurd need for power.”
“Both of these men are profoundly insecure,” he said, “and unfortunately for the people around them, they feel the only way they can be accepted in the world is through fear and intimidation.”
Knowing that all the episodes of “Vice Principals” had been written in advance, Mr. Goggins said, was a welcome change from “a world where so many decisions are based on public polls or how many likes you get on Instagram.”
“This isn’t,” he added. “This is 18 pictures posted without reading the comments.”