Natalie Zea Clears Up Her Justified Status, Teases Winona's Season-Ending Return

As if lawman Raylan Givens won’t have enough going in next Tuesday’s Justified finale — what with at least one very bad guy still at large — his baby mama will also resurface. Yet Winona’s presence was no foregone conclusion, if only because Natalie Zea has been in barely half of this season’s episodes.

Zea, though, was almost in none.

“I was actually done contractually after Season 2, and I planned on not continuing,” the actress shared at FX’s upfront event when I inquired about her conspicuously intermittent status with the Southern-fried drama.

Justified‘s Walton Goggins on the Boyd/Dickie Alliance: ‘We Will Dance, But It Won’t Be a Waltz’

Fortunately, EP Sarah Timberman – whom Zea hails as “a lovely and amazing producer and communicator” – convinced Winona’s portrayer to participate in Season 3.

“I said that I would gladly do it in a truncated capacity, so that I could be available for other things” – an arc on Californication and a role in Kevin Williamson’s Kevin Bacon-fronted serial killer pilot for Fox included – “so it worked out really well for all of us,” Zea said. “I just wanted to make sure that everybody is happy.”

Zea revealed that Winona will “sport a bit of a baby bump – finally!” when she shows up in the Season 3 capper, but wouldn’t reveal where things stand between her and Raylan once the finale’s inevitable, literal dust clears.

“I don’t think [Winona] will ever be ‘checked out’ of the relationship,” she allowed. “After all,” as a mom-to-be, “there’s, like, another person involved now.”

Justified fans, have you missed the Raylan/Winona romance this season?

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  1. beth says:

    OMG I am so excited. I LOVE Winona and Raylan together and feel as if the storyline is missing something without her. Raylan needs an anchor…Winona just has to get over her reservations and just friggin be there for him. It’s killing me!!!!

    • tbm says:

      Totally agree. Have missed Winona/Raylan interactions this season!

    • patty bell says:

      i back this 100% she has a great man , he loves her and she need’s to stand by her man . after all she new what he did for a living . and i thing he would go to the end of the earth for her.hhe think he would do anything to keep her safe , after all look what gary did and he helped him.but i think he is like that in real life.

  2. I’ve definitely missed the Raylan/Winona relationship! I adore their dynamic and really hope Natalie keeps coming back in season 4.

  3. K. says:

    I miss her and Raylan

  4. Dana says:

    Hell yes I’ve missed the Raylan and Winona dynamic. I don’t care how polarizing people think her character was, I really like her and Natalie. But as long as everything was done amicably then it’s fine. I’ll be happy when she appears in season 4 and hope that her pilot is successful.

  5. maggie says:

    I haven’t missed it at all to be honest I never really liked them together. But that being said I have like her more this season. I just like raylan as the lone cowboy type character. I do like his chemistry with eva but I am liking her and Boyd too much right now yo go there.

  6. I want Raylan and Ava back together, as she is the new Aunt Helen! I also want Raylan and Boyd to be brothers…..that would be amazing to find out that his mom had a fling with Boyd’s daddy! They would truly have a rivalry then!!!!

  7. Ruby says:

    I still can’t believe what her character did on Californication on Sunday!

  8. Jbkr73 says:

    I’ve missed her, and I’ve missed them together the last part of this season. I love their banter and obvious affection for one another, and I’m glad that, according to Yost anyway, Winona will always be a part of the show. Maybe they can ride off into the sunset together when his gunslinging days are over.

  9. aunt_deen says:

    I have loathed the character since almost Day 1 of the show. That said, I’ve mostly liked her in her limited capacity this season. If they’d written the third-season Winona all along, I’d probably root for her to stay on the show.

    • Ashley says:

      At first, I thought I was the only one who learned to like Winona this season–she (the character, not the actress. I like Natalie just fine) has been acting like a real human being for once–good to see I’m not a lone in this. So long as they leave season 1/2 Winona in the past, I’d love to see Natalie return.

  10. MaryAnn says:

    I love the two of them together, and when she is there is a better, richer, more enjoyable show.

  11. GG says:

    I love Raylan and Winona…She “gets” him. I love the humorous side that she brings out in him. I think she gives him balance. I will be sad if Natalie does not return in season 4.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Never crazy about her character. Felt like watching a southern more screwed up version of Susan Meyer (DH). Seemed like she gets into stupid messes Raylin always has to bail her out of. Haven’t missed her this season.

  13. meleliot says:

    Would love to see more of Winona!

  14. BHM1304 says:

    The fact that Raylan has more chemistry with every female in this cast except Zea has made her intermittant appearances go by just fine. (They need to bring back Rebecca Creskoff!)

    • Jbkr73 says:

      Are we watching the same show? Their chemistry is off the charts. No other woman on the show even comes close.

  15. T Day says:

    I’d just as soon se that character take a bullet. She is a huge break in Raylan’s rational qualities and their “chemistry” is non-existent. I suffered through every moment she and her 2nd husband were on screen. She is the least Leonard-like character in the series.

  16. mark says:

    No comment on the actress as she is convincing in her role and a lovely woman to boot, but the character is a manipulative liar, adulterous, thief, and all around bad person. She ditched Raylen when she got the more stable guy hooked, then ditched him when Raylen could help her out by destroying what could have been a good relationship with Ava. Raylen’s ex should have stayed an ex. She has no respect for him, his career, or herself. Having her around makes his character more believable in that in he is flawed, but he could do so much better.

  17. Sandy Steeves says:

    In Leonard’s novels Winona is way in the past, and that is where this character should stay. Raylan can do better that her or play the field. Just sayin’.

  18. Corinne says:

    I loved Raylan and Winona the minute he went to went to see her in the courtroom in the pilot episode. And then even more in Hatless. I hope Natalie is available to make a few appearances next season.

  19. meleliot says:

    It’s obvious Natalie’s not really interested in coming back in season 4 except for maybe a few “guest” appearances. In the beginning, I wasn’t fond of the character, and it took me a while to warm up to her. Eventually I thought she and Raylan had chemistry. I’m not sure why other people didn’t think so. At first I wanted him with Ava, but what do I know. I just hope Justified continues. This has been a good season, but not near as good as season 2 with the fabulous Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett.

  20. Bradley says:

    Hate Winona I wish she would die!

  21. PM20 says:

    Winona is a selfish erratic bitch! She brings him down and I am so tired of her complaining about everything he does or doesn’t do for her. She is useless to the show! Lynsey is hot and challenges him not Winona.

  22. Lynn says:

    Can we please have Quarles “take care of” Winona and wrap her storyline FOR GOOD? :~P

  23. Thomas says:

    That sucks. I liked Winona and thought the negativity her character recieved was pretty hyperbolic and kind of childish overall. Especially on a show where people lie, cheat, steal, and kill others, often premeditatedly. But, atleast she knows what she wants. I hope the crazy stalker people she had to deal with last year didn’t drive her to make that decision.

  24. dizzylucy says:

    I can’t say that I’ve missed the character, given how chock full the show is with great characters at the moment (surely to be thinned out come finale time!). But I like Natalie, and she and Timothy Olyphant have very good chemistry together, so I’ll be happy to see her pop by now and then.

  25. SammyD says:

    I do wish Quarrles would shoot her or should we just go away. The entire Raylan/Winona storyline is and was the worst part of this show. It isn’t a soap opera and that is where Natalie Zea belongs due to her acting is awful. She tries to hard and if Timothy Olyphant wouldn’t have made such a huge deal about her and flirted with her every chance he got and made it public then maybe those rumors about the two of them wouldn’t have surfaced.

  26. gg says:

    Winona is a drag and I tend to fast forward through her parts because I am sick of that stupid ass look on her face all the time. You know the look, Raylan why are you changing who you are to make me happy and kiss my ass every chance you get. She tried to change him before the baby so you know that isn’t the root of the problem.

  27. says:

    Winona of Season 1 was Fantastic. She’s the one character who knows Raylan and makes him a round character, not just a BAMF. I think the writers completely mis handled her in Season 2, spurring dislike for the character. People just didn’t “get her” any more and she came off too pushy instead of just confused. It seems in season 3 they took a 180 with her…twice.

    I would like the romance to get back together and allow Natalie to guest as the wife. Not guest as the vapid ex wife who never lets him see his kid. They underestimate how many viewers will be turned off Raylan jumping in the sack with chick du jour a couple of times a season. The demographic may be 18-35 year old men, but Women pay the cable bill, pick the cable package and remind their dumb husbands “what is on tonight.”

    Having Winona as the at home spouse leaves open more comedic possibilities ( Parenting is funny and would allow for lots of self deprecation and humbling). Having to put up with a harsh nag of an EX wife will just get dull.

    Realize that you made a mistake, Timberman, and put (what started as) the most interesting couple on television back together.

  28. Jean says:

    “But the character is a manipulative liar, adulterous, thief, and all around bad person. . . She ditched Raylen when she got the more stable guy hooked, then ditched him when Raylen could help her out. . . Raylen’s ex should have stayed an ex. She has no respect for him, his career, or herself.”

    I completely agree–she needs to go away. I was semi-neutral about her until she decided to commit grand larceny and manipulate Raylan into committing a felony with her, thus almost ruining his relationship/friendship with Art and risking his career. And the producers think that this is a great relationship. Based on what–Bonnie and Clyde? As for those who claim that “anyone would have done what Winona did given her financial situation.” Well that’s just not true–millions of HONEST women would NOT have committed a felony and tried to ruin the life of their honest ex-husband the way Winona did.

    She’s just another trashy lowlife like the ones Raylan is always arresting. She’ll raise his kid up to think it’s OK to commit any crime as long as you don’t get caught–or you can get the law into your pocket using sex or some other enticement so you can get away with it. Poor Raylan.

    • Dana says:

      Oh please! That trashy lowlife as you call her, kept Raylan from getting a bullet to the face, taking care of him after he got shot, and from spending a good deal of his time in a jail cell when she went looking for and found the murder weapon that could have framed him. So poor Raylan my ass. He ain’t dirty but he sure as hell skirts the law whenever it can benefit himself or others. It wasn’t honest or his job to let Loretta keep Mag’s drug money. He’s a grown man and the decisions he decides to make are his own and so are the consequences.

      • Jean says:

        I’m sure that Ma Barker did the same kind of things for her boys. That didn’t make her a good mother, nor did it excuse her for leading them in a life of crime. Sure, Raylan is responsible for his own actions, but when he “skirts” the law it’s not in a self-serving way and he takes the consequences for his actions. Winona doesn’t take the consequences–she calls up her lawman ex-husband and gets him to make them go away so she won’t have to spend a nice stretch in the penitentiary for felony grand theft.

  29. Dana says:

    The whole premise of the show is based on an illegal self serving act committed by Raylan. Did he need to shoot Tommy Bucks? Sleep with Ava? Shoot Arlo? Nope. And his acts have gotten more people hurt and killed than the “career criminal” that you seem to think Winona is.

  30. cooki1176 says:

    Winona is AWESOME! Timothy & Nat DEFINITELY have chemistry:) I liked her character in season 1 & 2..

    • GG says:

      Agreed………I think it is the writers fault for the hatred of Winona. They changed her character way too much from season 1 & 2.

  31. alissa says:

    Cannot wait to see Winona again. Having her present in his life really rounds out his character and I love their chemistry.

  32. gigi says:

    He lost a bit of his edge when they were all hot and heavy. Yes, I loved seeing him be funny, and sweet, but his character is a train wreck and with Winona he was too close to normal. His edge is what makes him a great character. I had no issue with Zea or Winona, I just missed that edge.

  33. cyndavaz says:

    Absolutely haven’t missed her – she’s the worst part about the show. I wish she would just go away and stay away.

  34. Sam says:

    I think the show should have more Winona/Raylan and less Ava/Boyd

  35. Gorden says:

    More Ava and Boyd and less Winona. Keep Raylan and Lynsey together! Winona is a whiney drudge if she died that would be fantastic!

  36. Bradley says:

    Women that love the Raylan/Winona love stupid story are night time soap opera fanatics. This show is not a soap opera. Go read smutt books for that crap and leave this man show alone and stop trying to turn it into a soap opera. He should have a love interest that challenges him and doesn’t remove his testicles. No woman likes a man without a backbone. Winona has removed Raylans as he is spineless with her.

    • GG says:

      I love the Raylan/Winona love story and I have never watched a soap opera in my life. I did not see him as spineless with her…just a little bit more human and more complete. You get more viewers when you appeal to both men and women..It isn’t just a “man” show.

  37. MGL says:

    I always liked the Raylan / Winona relationship and felt the show was really missing something this season without her and them. I certainly hope she does not die and though I am not looking for a nightime soap, I would love to see her back next season in a little greater capacity. She makes Raylan human.

  38. MsSat says:

    I’m not a fan of Raylan & Winona… I like Raylan with Ava

  39. Creg Horst says:

    Natalie Zea’s departure from Justified was not justified.

  40. Dawn Renshaw says:

    I most certainly have missed the talented Natalie Zea’s contribution to the show’s complexity! She was underutilized. What a shame!