Wednesday, June 06, 2012
A second shot at marshal law
The Sydney Morning Herald
Justified’s top cop is happy to blur the thin blue lines, writes Elmo Keep.
MUCH like the television characters for whom he is known, Timothy Olyphant is a man of few words.
Speaking with Green Guide about Raylan Givens, the lead character around whom the US crime series Justified is built, Olyphant will drawl of being heaped with praise for his performance by famed pulp writer Elmore Leonard, upon whose characters the series is based: ‘‘Nothing wrong with that. That was a lovely thing.’’ After a beat: ‘‘It was nice.’‘
Justified, which follows the Givens character, a US Marshal, as he is exiled after a legally dicey shooting of a Mob boss in Miami to his home town of Lexington, Kentucky - where his entanglements with the town’s criminal element are often complicated by his personal history with the place - is currently in its fourth critically lauded season in the US. Here, season two begins this week on Foxtel’s FX channel.
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‘‘The first thing, in broad strokes,’’ Olyphant says of the show’s evolution, ‘‘is that the upside is the second season is better than the first season. It feels kind of like the first time round was all just starting to find its legs and find a way of storytelling that we really enjoyed. And so we picked up where we left off and did some wonderful things in the second series.’‘
In the labyrinthine American justice system, US Marshals are the second-oldest federal agency, coming under the command of the executive branch of government, responsible for enforcing court orders and hunting down fugitives. These kinds of lawmen, who operate on a level that is rife for blurring the traditional lines of the law, provided the right kind of fertile fiction territory that inspired Leonard to create the Givens character - one who could explore the outer limits of the thin blue line.
Olyphant’s Givens administers a brand of justice that is more in line with his personal ethics than it is with the letter of the law.
Olyphant found the Givens character hard to resist when he received the pitch over email. He has shot people before, most famously in HBO’s period western Deadwood, in which he played the reluctant enforcer of the Old West gold-rush town, Sheriff Seth Bullock.
And despite the similarities that have been drawn between the two characters - with Givens something of an anachronistic man-out-of-time, who would perhaps be more at home in the 1830s than in contemporary society - Olyphant doesn’t buy the comparisons.
And finally, Deadwood fans need to let it go.
There is no plan to reunite the characters to tie the loose ends of the third and final season. Olyphant is satisfied where he is right now, exploring the moral complexities of his current character.
‘‘I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to assume it’s [Deadwood] over.
‘‘I think it was over as soon as they cancelled it!
‘‘There’s been a bizarre back and forth between certain parties about continuing it but I don’t think that was ever part of my plan. But it wasn’t my fault,’’ he says, ‘‘so don’t come after me.’‘
Justified airs on Foxtel’s FX Channel.