Timothy Murphy on Finally Playing the Good Guy (Sort of) in ‘Bastard Executioner’

As evidenced by his roles in “Sons of Anarchy” and “True Detective,” Timothy Murphy has built a career playing the villain. But in person, the actor’s charming smile, steely eyes and Irish accent couldn’t be less threatening. In fact, they’re a better fit for Father Ruskin, the at-least-sort-of good guy Murphy gets to play in FX’s new series “The Bastard Executioner.”

How does Father Ruskin compare to your prior roles?

Initially it didn’t seem like it was similar at all, because he is a priest. But there are no good guys. This guy is a priest, but he’s a priest with a past.

What was your first acting job?

I was living in Florida and dating this girl who worked at a casting agency. But I wasn’t an actor — I was working in construction. She told me they were looking for a James Dean-like character for a beer commercial. And I, at the time, looked like James Dean. It was so hot in South Beach that I had to take a break every 10 minutes just to get the sweat off. But three beautiful girls started powdering me down. I thought, well if that’s acting, I’m going to get into that.

You got to do something a little different in “Grace and Frankie.”

I was amazed they would cast me in a comedy, and then as a love interest for Jane Fonda. But in real life, that’s more like me. I don’t take life too seriously.

You’re not actually a badass villain? 

I worked as a bouncer in Dublin while I studied acting, but I’m not a badass.

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