Timothy Olyphant on ‘Scream 2’ and Saying Goodbye to ‘Justified’

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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  1. Olyphant has done an outstanding job in portraying Elmore Leonard’s Raylan Givens. He’s worthy of more Emmy love, imo. I also agree with Sonny Batson. High Life would be my favorite Olyphant movie role to date. Hope to see much more of him on both the big and little screen.

  2. Sonny Batson says:

    Olyphant’s best role will always be High Life. Justifies is one of 3-4 of the very best on though this season is a bit flat and the set up to Eva ratting on Boyd is weak. I don’t believe there’s any circumstance Boyd would have simply walked out of the room and left Fekus alone without a recantation.

  3. Integrity cancer says:

    Tim is such a humble down-to-earth guy. If one watches his tone, attitude and appearance on all the appearances he has made on talk shows, you will see this man as one who has not lost focus on real life. I think that us what draws me to his career more than anything. I just want him to succeed and be famous, and yet, he truly already has accomplished that, but without drowning himself in the business with their fake pomp and ego. I love Tim Olyphant for this unique and uncommon quality amid Hollywood actors. He is the guy I would want to sit next to on a long flight. His comment here about Nick Searcy was hilarious.

  4. yvonne wray says:

    This is another fine actor. Wish he could play again another role where Ian McShane is in it. I will miss Justified. This is one of the few stories that have incorporated the south and mountain folks. I never miss an episode of Justified or Deadwood. These are some of the best shows that has ever been on television. This young man has a long career in acting. He’s right up there with the best…

  5. libra113 says:

    I remember “Scream 2” being the first thing I remember seeing him in and even then I could tell he was really good and was going to go a long way.

  6. Love this Interview with one of my favorite actors on one of my favorite shows of all time!
    TO’s answers are what you want to hear whether you’re an industry pro looking to work with him, or a fan of the show who wants a perspective on what it was really like behind the curtain.

    My only lashout is unfortunately at the art work accompaning the interview — sorry but the pic is a barely recognizable version of TO, and it certainly does not capture the spirit of his persona in real life, or in character on “Justified.” These things happen, but it was so far off… I couldn’t let it go without a mention.

    Richard Finney

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