Eye on Emmy: Justified's Timothy Olyphant Has 5 'Fantastic Acceptance Speeches' on Standby

By all accounts, Timothy Olyphant ought to have a trophy case full of gold statuettes. His resume is stuffed with award magnets like Deadwood, Damages and The Office. His acting is consistently acclaimed. And he’s extremely well-liked in the community. But for whatever reason, the self-effacing 44-year-old remains decidedly kudos-deprived. There’s a strong feeling that could change this year in the wake of his impressive work as laconic Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens in Justified’s pitch-perfect second season.

TVLINE | Season 2 presented us with a much more human, flawed Raylan. Did you discover anything new about the character that surprised you?
It’s hard for me to think of it in those terms, to be quite honest with you. I just do it. I don’t know if it’s a fault or not but I more or less really am just thinking about the stories. I invest a great deal of energy into the stories we’re trying to tell, or where the stories seem to want to go. I’m just guided by, “Oh my God, that would be entertaining. What a moment. What a scene. What an idea.” Everything else I just trust that we’re in the right world.

TVLINE | Your storyline with young Loretta McCready revealed a paternal side to Raylan. As far as child stars go, how was Kaitlyn Dever to work with?
She was fantastic. What an actress. [I was] so pleasantly surprised. She was just so good. She wasn’t just good in terms of being present and truthful and capable, but I was really able to throw curve balls at her, change stuff on the spot, and she wasn’t fazed by it. She wasn’t rehearsed. Sometimes I think with kids they’re working with an acting coach and they’ve got their line readings and they’re really pinned down and then when you go, “We’re going to move this line, take this out, switch this around,” they’re like, “Mom! What the f–k is this guy talking about?” [Laughs] She was just so right there. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that. She was no different than anyone else on that set. Her parents must be pretty cool, because usually if the kid actor is a pain in the ass there’s a pain in the ass right behind them. We lucked out there because those things can be a disaster.

TVLINE | You’ve enjoyed an embarrassment of riches last season in terms of guest stars. Jeremy Davies, Brad Henke and, my God, Margo Martindale. Did that raise your game?
It just makes my job easier. It’s a little bit like tennis — you just look better when you’re playing against someone really good. If I go out and hit the ball with Roger Federer I look great. You know why? Because no matter where I hit it, he hits it back to me. That makes me look good. [Laughs] I get that with [co-star Walton Goggins], it’s what I got with Margo… It just keeps coming right back. I can take [something] in a different direction and I know they’re going to pick it up and I know they’re going to throw it back at me in a way that I just haven’t seen before. It’s so much easier to stay present. I felt this way last [season], especially about Walt. If he’s on the call sheet I just know it’s an easy day for me because I’m going to let him do all the work. As an actor, you’re doing everything to, for, because of, and off of the other person. That is super easy to do when that other person is Walt Goggins. Or that other person is Margo Martindale. Or Natalie Zea.

TVLINE | Justified didn’t receive any major Emmy nominations in its first season, but there’s a feeling that may change this year. What’s your take on “the race”?
I don’t know if I have a take on it. I’m not sure that I know anything about it. I mean I know there are Emmys. [Laughs] It’s a great show. I watch it every year. I’m thrilled to be part of the conversation.

TVLINE | Any theories as to why it didn’t get more recognition last year? Do you think it might be a little too under the radar for Emmy voters?
No. I assumed the other shows last year were really good. If you told me there was a show [that was nominated] that sucked, then I’d say, “Well that’s too bad. We should have gotten on there.” But I assume they were all pretty good. Our show is pretty good. I think our show this year is really good. Beyond that I don’t know how these things work.

TVLINE | Are you one of those actors that dream of getting an Emmy, or perhaps even an Oscar?
[Laughs] Maybe the reason we didn’t get nominated for an Emmy last year is because we were more worthy of an Oscar. Therein lies the problem. We were doing Oscar caliber work. [Laughs] I have a number of things I should be embarrassed to admit. One of which is that I’m constantly coming up with names for bands. I don’t know how to play an instrument or carry a tune. But I still can tell you off the top of my head at least a half-dozen great names for a band. Also, I think I’ve got about four or five fantastic acceptance speeches in me. I’ve never been nominated or received any award where I would have to give a speech. But I’m sure I can come up with a couple of really good ones. I’m in a profession that is child’s play, but I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. I think part of that mentality [includes] daydreaming. I’m guilty of those kinds of things. At the same time, I know very little about these awards or how they work.

TVLINE | If you were to get nominated, what episode would you submit?
Oh, I have no idea. I’m very pleased and very proud of the work on the show, period. I go home at night and the pillow is very cool. I have fully committed to this job. I’m looking under every rock and I’m looking at it from every angle. I’m putting my hand in everybody’s f—ing cookie jar to figure out how to make the best possible show and tell the best possible story. I get the rough [cuts] and I watch the early edits of the show. I don’t see the work, I’m just watching something that feels fully inhabited, and simple, and clear. That’s all I’m trying to achieve. That’s essentially the job. To do it simply and to do it clearly. I’m very proud of that. Beyond that, I’m aware that if you break down and cry on film people are very impressed. So if there’s an episode where I would start bawling and crying I would choose that one because people tend to get impressed by those things.

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  1. Ray Couch says:

    Justified is a fantastic show. I’ve been a fan of his for years and I really think he’s due. I think Walton Goggins and Margo Martindale should get nods too.
    By the way, I would punch a hobo to see Ian McShane as a “big bad” on Justified.

  2. Lisa says:

    Timothy Olyphant and Nathan Fillion are the only reason I watch t.v. at all.

  3. jrs says:

    Nice interview…Timothy comes across as a really laid-back cool ‘guy’. I just love Justified and believe this show deserves a lot of awards this year. Plus, would love to see Timothy in a tux!

  4. bigfan says:

    What a nice interview and article. He’s actually 43, but otherwise, it’s perfect!

  5. JAO says:

    I agree with everyone above. Been watching Timothy for years, he is really good. And I love the interaction with all the cast. Justified is a top-notch show. Everyone on that show deserves an award! Jeremy Davies was so different than Lost (where I loved his character there, too), and he didn’t make it a caricature. It was believable and played so well off Timothy & Margo!

  6. filmex says:

    You don’t really need to worry about Emmy awards when the show just won a Peabody Award, which is the most prestigious award you can garner.

    Outside of the Nobel, you aren’t gonna top that.

  7. jennrae says:

    Who else wants to go have beers with this guy? He’s awesome–and easy on the eyes! LOVE Justified.

    • spikesgrl says:

      I don’t drink beer but I would love to do anything with this man, including watching him read the telephone book. He is just that good.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I looove Timothy Olyphant. I could watch him all day. He’s amazing on Justified and is definitely worthy of a nomination! Walt Goggins is amazing as well; just love the guy too.

  9. steve says:

    if justified doesnt atleast get nominated and timothy doesnt either theres something serisouly wrong with the way the emmys are picked.

  10. Amber says:

    Emmy voters, make this happen!!! Seriously, Raylan Givens is Timothy Olyphant’s best performance to date. The guy has always been good, but he really stepped up for this role. And I hate to be superficial, but he is super cute, especially with that Raylan Givens drawl and cowboy hat. It’s too much sugar for me.

  11. Jeri says:

    This show is so great. I never noticed Timithy before (my bad), but I see him now and all the other great actors on this show. They make magic happen.

  12. Mandy says:

    I have got to start watching this show. I adore Timothy Olyphant. I have seen some of his movie work and loved it.
    While I haven’t seen the show, I totally believe it is Emmy worthy…
    Maybe I will catch up on these over the summer.

    • Lindalou says:

      @Mandy “Catching up” on Seasons one and two would definitely be the BEST thing you could do for yourself. Seriously great story-telling acted to perfection.

  13. Nick says:

    Shouldn’t it be “Emmy-worthiness” on the front page and not “Oscar-worthiness”? One is for TV, but the other is for film. Unless they’re making a Justified movie. In which case, YES PLEASE.

  14. Locke says:

    This show is, without question, one of the best on TV. I’ll be livid if the show itself and Timothy aren’t nominated. They’re extremely deserving.

  15. XK says:

    Great actor, class act, and starring in a fantastic show.

  16. susanmarie says:

    One of the best shows — if not thee best–on TV. It should be a crime if this show would not get a bucket load of nominations this year and should win the majority of them. I love Timothy and the rest of the cast–each actor seems born for the role they are playing. Wonderful!

  17. Brad says:

    “Justified lawman Timothy Olyphant assesses the FX drama’s Oscar worthiness and talks about averting a potential child star disaster”

    You mean Emmy worthiness?

  18. Nick says:

    This show is at least 10 times better than that Mad Men crap, and probably 5 times better than that meth show Breaking Bad or whatever. Definately needs to win this year, or there is something wrong with the emmy’s.

  19. Myke25 says:

    I get a kick out of seeing Olyphant’s Deadwood co-stars pop up on Justified. So far I’ve caught…

    Ray McKinnon (Rev. Smith)
    Brent Sexton (Harry Manning)
    Peter Jason (Con Stapleton)
    W. Earl Brown (Dan Dority)
    Sean Bridgers (Johnny Burns)
    and the great Jim Beaver (Ellsworth)

    Would love to see more of them like Dayton Callie and Paula Malcomson show up in Harlan Co.

  20. Bucky says:

    I love Justified and have since the first episode.

    Aside from the quality acting and good writing, I think that the setting brings a lot to the table.

    There are plenty of shows set in New York and California but this is a different area and makes for a nice change.

  21. ALEJANDRA says:

    Oh,I have another reason to love this man,He is a Roger Federer´s fan.I really hope he got the Emmy,he deserves it.His work was beautiful,and in the last 5 or 6 years his other characters were showing us how he became and excellent actor

  22. tori says:

    Like i said last year tim should of had the nod for a emmy but did not get one, i just hope this year they get it right and give him a nom and walton for the great job he does as boyd and of course the show should also get a nom………..

  23. Linda says:

    Justified caught my eye in the initial promos and in all 26 episodes thus far, not one mistake has been made. The actors are brilliant, the writing inspired and the directors get what is essentially an Elmore Leonard novel on screen. Then we come to Timothy. Never heard of him before those promos but OMG what a great natural actor who clearly is invested with his whole heart and soul in Justified and that shows. His portrayal of Raylan Givens is just breathtaking and he does take my breath every minute he is on screen. So please Emmy committee – Nominate this year.

  24. lrochelle says:

    This interview is what a fan loves best: humor, fun and light handedness. While I have never met our man, TO, I simply love his laid back approach to his fame and of course his humor. He brings it everywhere and yet it never feels awkward or pushed into the conversation. Much the same as his costars make it easy for him to do his job, he makes it so easy to enjoy his performances, or in this case, conversations. I Love Justified and eagerly awaiting its return with or without Emmys in tow.

  25. Linda H. says:

    Justified has been my favorite show for 2 years. Olyphant is fantastic as Raylan Givens. Margo Martindale deserves an emmy for her performance as Mags. Goggins as Boyd did a great job. I wish them all an emmy. Can hardly wait for season 3.
    I started watching the show because I have read almost every Lemore Leonard book and knew with him involved it would be good story telling.
    Good Luck! -L.H.

  26. Heth says:

    I am soooo happy for Timothy Olyphant and the other cast members of Justified who were nominated. I am shocked that the show did not get nominated for best drama! I was lucky enough to meet Timothy Olyphant at LAX last summer. It was just after the first season finale. I gushed for a while about how much he deserves awards – and now he’s nominated! He was so sweet- he came and found me a few minutes later so I could take his picture (he was on the phone before). He is just as amazing (if not more) in person, as he is on TV and in the movies!! I hope he wins!!!!

  27. broadwayfan says:

    I love Timothy, and JUSTIFIED. I’m thrilled with the nominations.
    But I am MOST HAPPY with Margo Martindale’s nomination.
    After about 10 minutes of watching her as Mags Bennett, I thought ‘If she doesn’t get an Emmy Award, there is NO justice!’

    Saw her in last Saturday night’s CHAOS, and she was so great. I first noticed her in SECRETARIAT. Now, I look for her everywhere.

    Glad JUSTIFIED is getting the attention it deserves.

  28. TOFAN says:

    Big fan of Timothy, have EVERY movie, TV show he’s been on. Bought 9 copies of Justified to get friends to watch…worth every penny, now they love the show as well. Elmore is my favorite author, I have collected his books for years. Looking forward to his next Raylan book. Can’t wait for season 3 to begin, will miss Aunt Helen and of course Margo. Hope they all win Emmy’s. If you want to see a great show with Margo..watch The Ritches..to bad it was cut short, I think cause Minner Driver was pregnant…very good show and is out on DVD now.