Walton Goggins Explains Why He Rejected ‘Justified’ Twice Before Playing Boyd Crowder

Reviews for Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight have not been as strong for the director as for many of his previous films, but what no critic or audience member can deny is how incredibly good Walton Goggins is as Sheriff Chris Mannix. In a film full of movie stars — many of whom have been working with Tarantino for decades — “TV star” Goggins steals his every scene. He makes perfect sense in a Tarantino movie anyway, because — as Tarantino put it himself — Goggins had been delivering “faux” Tarantino dialogue in Justified for six seasons.

It’s that comment that Goggins takes as a compliment, not as a weird insult, as he explained to Rolling Stone:

It’s the truth! [Laughs] I think he meant it as a compliment. You have to remember, Elmore Leonard didn’t write the Justified scripts; he just wrote the short story that the series is based on. So that meant our fearless leader Graham Yost and the writing staff had the impossible task of trying to replicate Leonard’s writing on a daily basis. And damned if they didn’t do it really well, and I think he recognized that — the task of trying to nail that voice. Which is similar to his.

But what about the role of Boyd Crowder? As many know, Graham Yost had only originally hired him for the pilot episode, and only decided to keep the character around for all six seasons after he connected so well with audiences. However, Goggins nearly didn’t play the role in Justified at all, and as he explained to Rolling Stone, because he was wary of playing a Southern, racist stereotype, and absolutely did not want to say the n-word.

Why did Goggins ultimately accept the role?

I turned down Justified twice. It was only because I was a big fan of Tim Olyphant and Graham Yost’s work that I said, “Look, I’ll say the things you want me to say in the pilot, because this is Elmore Leonard’s world. But in order for me to do this, I need [Tim’s character] Raylan Givens to acknowledge that Boyd does not believe a word he’s saying.” Because you add that factor, and suddenly, he becomes a much more interesting, more complex character. And God bless them, they gave me autonomy over Boyd. After the pilot, the character never says the word “ni**er” again. Over the course of the six years on the show, I was only asked once more to say it in a line of dialogue, and I said, “No.” It wasn’t right. I wasn’t going to go near that storyline.

He’s right, of course. As good as Goggins was in the pilot episode, it was important — if Graham Yost wanted us to sympathize and love that character for six seasons — that he not be a Southern, racist caricature. Boyd changed a lot between the pilot and the rest of season one, and he changed even more dramatically after the first season, so much so that many of us prefer to forget the uglier, evangelical white supremacist character of the first season, even if it was a put on.

(Via Rolling Stone)

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