Timothy Olyphant's Raylan Givens has a romance and a bromance on 'Justified'
Timothy Olyphant stars in "Justified" Wednesdays on FX.
In season one of the drama inspired by characters created by novelist Elmore Leonard, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) -- an interesting mix of laid-back humor and violent impulses -- got in a bit of trouble after shooting a gun thug in Miami and was dispatched back to his hometown of Harlan in eastern Kentucky.
No doubt, thousands of hardworking, law-abiding, God-fearing citizens inhabit this rural coal-mining region, but we really don't see much of them in "Justified." Instead, Harlan's a hotbed of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the Dixie Mafia, and this season, marijuana growers and illegal prescription drug smugglers.
It's also home to Raylan's ex-wife, Winona Hawkins (Natalie Zea). After events in season one, she appears to have dumped her regular-guy second husband, Gary (William Ragsdale), to reignite sparks with Raylan after temporarily abandoning him for the safe choice.
"Well," says Olyphant, lounging on his couch in his trailer at the show's sets atop a hill in Santa Clarita, Calif., "the nice and the safe is never as nice and safe as you think. That's one of the sad truths in life, that the safe choice doesn't always work out that way."
Regardless of why Raylan and Winona broke up (which has yet to be specified in the show), when she comes back to him, it's not because she wants to share feelings in a heart-to-heart conversation. Actually, conversation isn't really part of it.
"I like more specifically," Olyphant says, "that she's there knowing that he's not capable of having that. She knows that the idea of it is laughable with him."
"Yeah, yeah," says Zea, in her trailer on that same day, "that's true. I think maybe there was a potential for a nice conversation, but I don't think that happened. It didn't happen. Actually, we saw it didn't happen."
In the first few episodes of season two, it seems as if Gary still harbors hope that he and Winona can get back together.
"That's his problem," Zea says. "I feel like I've made it pretty clear to him that I'm done."
The other main relationship in Raylan's life is with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). They grew up together; they dug coal together. One became a lawman, the other a criminal. Last season, Raylan had to shoot Boyd, which triggered a spiritual conversion that led Boyd to gather a group of followers, which eventually fell victim to his crime-boss father. As season two opened, Boyd is back digging coal, but it's unlikely that his violent days are entirely behind him.
As Boyd says to Raylan, they probably are friends, after a fashion.
"He's rocked by the killing of 18 of his men," says Goggins, speaking in late December (just before becoming a new father in January). "You're going to see Boyd really wandering through the desert. He's really going to be lost. This guy doesn't take those kinds of things very lightly. It's really going to have a dark, dark effect on him."
As for Boyd's friendship with Raylan, Goggins says, "It's really strange, friendly on the one hand and contentious on the other, and it's constantly going back and forth."
Olyphant offers a view of the two men as seen through the lens of Elmore Leonard, saying, "I don't know if it's an issue of like or dislike. In Elmore's world, it's more of a matter of who you find to be an a... or not an a... . We weren't close friends, but we have each other's back. You gain a certain respect for each other."
After all, the two spent time in a coal mine together, facing hard work, sweat and danger.
"There's a history," Olyphant says. "That's really all that's important to acknowledge. There's a history. He's not a liar; he's complicated. I feel like I know him, and I gather he probably knows me.
"There's a mutual respect for one another. You get to know a guy in that kind of a situation, and even if you don't know anything about him, you feel like you know him. I like that about life."
As for his relationship with the show's spiritual father, Elmore Leonard, Olyphant says, "I often optimistically think that if I listen to enough Lou Reed, that somehow I'll just be cooler, that, just by the act of it, maybe somehow it will transfer over. "I'd like to think that my association with Elmore, the fact that I've read a bunch of his books, and that I've said out loud things that he wrote, that somehow that's made me personally cooler.
"But I'm also smart enough to know it's not true."