Timothy Olyphant First time in Variety
Caroline Andrieu for Variety

After six seasons, Timothy Olyphant is wrapping his Emmy-nominated run as lawman Raylan Givens on FX’s hit series “Justified.” But he was on the other side of the law (20-year-old spoiler alert) when he was cast in director Wes Craven’s “Scream 2.” “I appreciate the trip down memory lane,” he said of revisiting his first Variety mention.

How did you land the role in “Scream 2”?

I auditioned — multiple times. Why wouldn’t I want to be in “Scream”? I wanted to be in the first one.

What was the mood like on set?

It was quite a buzz being on a set like that. One could make a good argument that Wes was one of the best directors I’ve ever worked for. Not a bad way to get started early.

What would you do differently if you could go back to that time?

That’s a long list. I stepped in it many times back then. I was just a fool. There were plenty of apologies at that stage of my career, I’m sure.

You’ve had some memorable roles. Which have been your favorites?

That “Scream” role was quite a gift. I had virtually nothing on my resume at that point. I’m sure some of it was made up. That was a leap of faith they all took. I’m very appreciative of them being willing to take that risk.

Were you determined to be an actor?

It was way better than bartending. At that point in your career, the key word is persistence, hanging in there. Knowing who to pay attention to. I remember thinking, Liev Schreiber clearly knows what he’s doing. Pay attention to him.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about show business?

Something I’ve come to terms with is, it’s just a job, like any other.

Did you always want to be an actor?

I suppose in the back of my mind when I was out collecting chicken eggs, yeah. It worked out.

What will you do, post-“Justified”?

Go back to collecting chicken eggs. Do what I’ve always done along the way. Try to put my hands on a good job.

What do you look for in a part?

It’s always about the story. First and foremost, you try to get your hands on something that you’d want to go see, even if you weren’t in it. Then you try to see a place where you can fit in there.

You took on the role of producer on “Justified.” Did you enjoy it?

Very much so. It’s pretty fun in the kitchen. Writing’s hard. I’ve learned that along the way. You don’t have to worry about the egotistical writer. The craft will humble him.

Is it going to be hard to leave “Justified”?

I’m going to miss those people. I know everybody says this, and I don’t know how often they mean it. But it’s a special bunch. Not one a**hole in the group. In six years, there’s been no b.s. Everybody showed up ready to go, day in and day out, willing to make the extra effort. I’m going to miss them, all — well, except for Nick Searcy. But he knows that.

What are you going to do with Raylan’s hat?

Do what I always do at the end of the day — give it back to wardrobe.

And what can you reveal about the “Justified” finale?

At the very end, we’re going to cut to commercial.

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