Emmys 2018: Walton Goggins, Hollywood’s Ultimate Journeyman, Is Finally a Breakout Star
Walton Goggins delivered one of ET’s Standout Performances of the 2017-18 season.
ETOnline.com — Walton Goggins is, perhaps, Hollywood’s ultimate journeyman.
The actor, who has bounced between film and TV for the past 29 years after first appearing in a 1989 episode of The Heat of the Night, has been this way “since I was a young man,” he tells ET by phone, acknowledging, in some way, that he’s been “that guy from that show” for most of his career. In fact, to many, he has become known for supporting roles on The Shield, Justified and Sons of Anarchy — three shows that have earned Goggins critical praise and steady work if not “it” status or covers of magazines.
Then, in 2015, all of that changed thanks to, yes, another supporting role, but this time as Sheriff Chris Mannix in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. It was his second time working with Tarantino, after an even smaller role in Django Unchained. But this time he ran away with the entire film, stealing scenes from Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.
While on set of The Hateful Eight, outside of Telluride, Colorado, Goggins was offered the opportunity to star opposite Danny McBride in Vice Principals, a new comedy marking the return of McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green to HBO after four seasons of Eastbound and Down. “I read the first three scripts and I was just blown away by it,” Goggins says. “I was just grateful for the invitation to come play with them.”
Soon, he was playing Chris Mannix for Tarantino during the day and at night getting into the character of Lee Russell, a conniving and sociopathic vice principal vying for the top job at a South Carolina high school. “You know, you’re tired when you fall asleep but it’s a high-class problem, isn’t it?” Goggins says of the experience.
The show, which ran for two seasons, premiered in July 2016 to rave reviews and has since earned Goggins photo spreads in high-profile magazines as well as also roles in History Channel’s Six, this year’s big-budget films Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Tomb Raiderand Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the lead in the CBS pilot for a new TV adaptation of L.A. Confidential.
In a conversation with ET, Goggins reflects on playing Lee Russell, the most diabolical character of his career, and how much of his career is instinct versus luck.
ET: You auditioned for Eastbound and Down and didn’t get the role. But then the opportunity to audition for Vice Principals came back around and you got that. What was it about Eastbound that wasn’t a right fit, but Vice Principals worked out?
Walton Goggins: Well, that’s really interesting. I think they were looking for something different for Eastbound and Down, and when I walked in, I knew that. At least, I felt in my heart that if I got into a room with Danny, there would be chemistry. Real chemistry. That’s what you hope with people that you look up to and it was, there was a lot of chemistry in this reading. I think by my very nature, my take on things is pretty dark. I’m not a comedian by trade. I’m just a storyteller, and most of the actors in the room when I showed up were all people from SNL and comedians. So I didn’t think I had a shot in hell of ever getting that whatsoever. It’s not really ever about that for me, it’s just about the opportunity to come play with someone you respect and admire. I think because of that reading, they were kind of going back and forth on whether or not they wanted to go darker with this particular role on Eastbound and Down. Then they made the right decision and they went with Jason Sudeikis. But in their mind, when it came to Lee Russell and when it came to Vice Principals,they wanted to go a different direction. They wanted to mine these characters for who they are, their tragedies as well as their comedic experiences.
You have had such a great track record with The Shield, Justified, Sons of Anarchy and now Vice Principals. When it comes to being involved in these projects and knowing they’re going to be so great, how much of it is instinct and how much of it is luck?
Oh, God, The Shield was luck. For sure. [Creator] Shawn Ryan had been around a little bit, but it was really his first time manning the wheel, so no one knew. But it was on the page. The same with Justified. It’s Elmore Leonard [who authored the short story on which the series is based], so we had that going with us, and the great Tim Olyphant. With all of these things, it is luck. I suppose the instinct or the gut feeling is the other part of that. I read Boyd Crowder and I just saw him immediately. I saw Shane McDonnell instantly. I saw Venus Van Dam immediately and I saw Lee Russell immediately. So I think it’s a combination of luck and just knowing when I can really add something to this or that I can help this storyteller share their story. Continue Reading →
I’ve added high quality screen captures of Walton as Richard ‘RIP’ Taggart from the HISTORY series SIX which premiered its second season this past Memorial Day. You can view those captures along with an episodic still in the gallery now.
Real heroes. Not actual size. Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp is In theaters July 6th.
Charlie Plummer and AnnaSophia Robb are set to star in the high school-set drama.
HollywoodReporter.com — Andy Garcia and Walton Goggins are joining the cast of Words on Bathroom Walls.
Molly Parker is also joining the LD Entertainment project, which is set to star Charlie Plummer and AnnaSophia Robb.
Based on Julia Walton’s debut novel, the feature will follow high schooler Adam (Plummer) as he navigates life while living with paranoid schizophrenia and battling wild hallucinations, and undergoes an experimental drug trial that promises to help hide his illness from his peers.
Garcia will play Father Patrick, the kind and unexpectedly witty priest at Adam’s private high school, while Parker will play Adam’s single mother and Goggins her partner.
Thor Freudenthal will direct from a script by Nick Naveda. Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon will pordcue for LD Entertainment, which is also financing the project.
Garcia, who will next be seen in Paramount comedy Book Club, is repped by CAA and Brillstien. Goggins is set for Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp and is repped by ICM and Darris Hatch. Parker, who is repped by CAA, Canada’s Red and Circle of Confusion, can currently be seen on Netflix series Lost in Space.
A look inside Mulholland Distilling’s new modern-day salon in the Arts District
LAMag.com — It was the winter of 1991 when Walton Goggins arrived in Los Angeles at the invitation of a manager he’d met in Atlanta (his hometown is nearby Lithia Springs) while working on an episode of In the Heat of the Night. As soon as he set foot in the woman’s Hollywood apartment—he recalls it being on Poinsettia Place—she presented him with a contract to sign. He put her off by asking for a tour of Hollywood Boulevard, and then broke it to her that he wasn’t prepared to sign any paperwork. She told him to get out. It was late, so he negotiated a night on her couch, which she agreed to as long as he hit the bricks first thing in the morning. At the crack of dawn, he gathered his belongings and caught a taxi to an audition that wouldn’t start for hours.
“I got there at 7 o’clock, 6:30 in the morning for a 10 o’clock appointment, and just sat out on the bench with all my shit,” he recalls. “That was my first 24 hours in this city, and ever since then [L.A. has] given me so much more than it’s taken away from me, and I’ve become the person that I’ve become because of this town.”
Goggins, now 46 and recognizable for starring roles in everything from Justified to the new Tomb Raider reboot (not to mention his pathos-rich turn as sociopathic school administrator Lee Russell on HBO’s Vice Principals), tells the story over sips of a gin concoction he mixed behind the bar in his new Arts District headquarters. In late 2016, he and friend-partner Matthew Alper, a first Assistant Camera man with dozens of film credits, launched Mulholland Distilling, a liquor brand that aspires to capture the “spirit of L.A.” Alper is a second generation Angeleno, raised on the Westside, and Goggins considers himself a transplanted native, which seems fair given the lukewarm welcome he endured to live and thrive in the city.
Last month, they quietly introduced the Mulholland Room, a second-story loft they intend to be a physical extension of the brand and its identity. In theory, it’s their office. It’s a tasting room. It’s a space for private and not-so-private events (eventually). It’s a place for people to get together and share ideas. Alper calls it a “salon.” Goggins calls it a “watering hole of sorts.” In practice, it’s the airy, gorgeous living room of your L.A. dreams, complete with a fully stocked bar and some really nice art on the walls.
“I think branding in 2018 is the opposite of branding, do you know what I mean? I don’t think that you wear a T-shirt with Mulholland Distilling on it anymore,” Goggins says. “It’s really about well, no. We’re here right now, and let’s pour a beautiful cocktail, and let’s sit and talk. I think our goal was to cultivate an experience where people could come and bond and share ideas, really, regardless of where you are in your life or what your occupation is.”
Currently, it’s accessible via text message to a number on a card being handed out by Alper and Goggins to friends and friends of friends. In the future, they envision opening it up for some more public gatherings, like an industry night, where bartenders can come, hangout, and experiment behind the bar.
Goggins’s personal aesthetic is represented in nearly every detail of the space. Amid the cushy, vintage sofas and chairs are pieces from the actor’s own collection, including a French club chair he bought when he started getting real work 20 years ago. The wall opposite the bar features a large-scale painting by Goggins’s friend Danny Fox; near the entryway, there’s also a Wes Lang painting of Willie Nelson and Stefanie Schneider photographs of the desert on L.A.’s outskirts.
The cool, inviting marble-topped bar is the heart of the space. Mulholland’s spirits—a New World gin, a whiskey, and a vodka—are distilled elsewhere, but finished to their specifications. The whiskey is distilled in Indiana, and then transported to Kentucky where it is blended with a high rye bourbon, so it’s 94 percent corn, four percent rye, and two percent barley. “It’s sweet up front and caramel-y, and then has a nice rye spice finish and a little bit of heat at the end,” Alper says. “Just to remind you that you’re drinking whiskey.” The vodka, made from non-GMO corn so it’s gluten free, is distilled six times, which gives it a sweeter flavor; a higher proof gives it a softer mouth-feel. The gin is the standout. Finished with notes of lime, lavender, and Japanese cucumber, it’s simultaneously fruity, herbal, and vegetal, without being alienating to people who don’t normally drink gin.
Alper refers to them as “egalitarian spirits.” They’re accessible in terms of taste, and they’re relatively inexpensive, too.
“That’s the whole thing,” Alper says. “It’s a reflection of who we are. I think it’s accessible, it’s delicious; the bartender’s really attracted to it because it’s new and different. People who’ve never had it before are attracted to it because it’s not scary and it’s not some off-the-path sort of thing.”
Goggins adds, “It’s not the greatest whiskey you’ve ever had in your entire life, and it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be accessible but beautiful, and a very high quality.”
For more info or to host a private event at the Mulholland Room, contact them via their website.
Deadline.com — Walton Goggins didn’t just walk into the role of Lee Russell in HBO’s Vice Principals. Instead, it took him years to land the part. The series, co-created by Jody Hill and Goggins’ co-star Danny McBride, earned Goggins a best supporting actor Critics’ Choice Award. It wrapped its two-season run at the end of last year.
The dark comedy series centered on Neal Gamby (McBride), a prickly high school vice principal who teams with his rival Russell against the new principal who took the job they both wanted.
Goggins said Sunday during Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event that he always wanted to work with McBride, but it took a while to find the right project. “I actually went in and I auditioned for a role on Eastbound & Down,” Goggins said of McBride’s previous HBO series.
While Goggins didn’t get that part, he did make a lasting impression on McBride. “A couple of years later, I was doing The Hateful Eight and he reached out and said, ‘I have this role and I want you to do it.’”
Goggins said it was a project he won’t soon forget.
“It was bittersweet to say goodbye to it,” Goggins said. “It was an incredible experience.”
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.