Steven Moffat Talks to Fangirl Magazine about Christmas and the Doctor

_AC_3793.jpg  Steven Moffat

Your friendly neighborhood editor got a chance to talk to Doctor Who Showrunner Steven Moffat late last week about the upcoming Christmas special during a conference call.  During the chat Moffat defended the Doctor against some naughty accusations about the Doctor being the cause of some companions having their lives destroyed:

“I mean that’s not true about all the Doctor’s
companions. It’s maybe what the Doctor thinks in his darker moments and
when he’s dying in “Let’s Kill Hitler.” He worries that he might’ve done them
terrible harm.

But Rose is off in a parallel universe. She’ll be with her – with a human 

version of the Doctor. She’s fine. Martha learns to stand up for herself and got
over her crush on the Doctor and she soars off.

Yes Donna has a more miserable thing. But she doesn’t know she’s miserable.
She ends up actually quite happy and married to a good bloke. Rory and Amy
are perfectly happy in New York. They’re dead, but, you know, everyone
from that year is dead so that’s all right. They lived to a ripe old age and had a
lovely time.

The Doctor – so he’s not – they all don’t leave under terrible circumstances at 

all. I think the tragedy when Amy and Rory went was the Doctor lost them not
- and that in the end they, you know, of course that, you know, Amy would
choose Rory over the Doctor in a heartbeat. And he actually had some trouble
quite dealing with that.

But the fact is, no he doesn’t ruin their lives. He can induce a certain amount
of trauma, it must be said. But no they’re not all destroyed by any means. And
no, every time, every time the Doctor loses a regular character from this show
it will happen in a moment that makes people talk. Because the episode that
you described no one would talk about that. That wouldn’t be thrilling.”


One of the more interesting bits though was when ComicMix turned the  conversation to the companions again, but this time it involved the recent discussions around the web of when we might see a different companion that WASN’T from modern day earth.  The response was practical and also made sense from a writers perspective when it comes to modern Who.  

“Now in fact, the old series doesn’t do a hell of a lot of it. If you looked at the
vast majority of the companions come from contemporary era. Even the ones
who don’t come from contemporary era are pretty much normalized ones like
with Jamie and Victoria. Then it’s hardly any time at all before Victoria is
wearing short skirts. No Victorian would actually do that.

You know, so the problem is – and I don’t say it’s an unsolvable problem, but
the majority solution will always be a contemporary companion. But the
problem is you need an anchoring point for the audience. You need someone
who represents their world and their point of view. And the simplest, purest
and best answer to that is somebody from their world.

Now somebody who’s watched Doctor Who for an unseasonably long time
like I have, like possibly you have, I don’t know, might get bored of that and
say I wish it was, you know, a two headed alien from the planet Prang. The
new audience don’t think that. They want an anchoring point on that
mysterious alien the Doctor. 

Doesn’t mean we’ll always do it this way. But the reality is it’s always going
to be somebody from contemporary era or somebody who ends up being very
like somebody from contemporary era.

I think it was great – the one that broke the mold really I would argue was
Leela. We actually went for somebody who was quite different. I would sort
of say that Jamie and Victoria ended up – when I was a kid watching I wasn’t
particularly aware that they were historical characters. And I do remember
watching them.

And Romana just came across as, you know, in the end like a very, very
clever young woman. She wasn’t that different from Liz Shaw. It’s going to
be – it’s going to be the relatable half of the partnership.

Keep in mind Doctor Who has to not just appeal to sci-fi fans, it has to appeal
to a huge mainstream audience who dwarf the sci-fi audience. You sort of
need that way in for them. Having said that, you know, who knows maybe
there’ll be a robot dog next. I don’t know.


 My question though was more central to the issue at hand, which was the Christmas special itself and how it was about time Santa Claus was involved.

Jessica Dwyer:  So as a writer what is the process of planning and

plotting a Christmas Special every year for a series like Doctor Who, and what

are the challenges? And kind of as a backup to that as well, why did it take so

long for someone to use Santa as a plot point in a special?

Steven Moffat: What did it take – it’s not massively different from just writing an episode of

Doctor Who. The thing about Doctor Who and the way we approach it, and it

sort of has paid off is – I’m always saying to every writer and often myself

when I’m the writer – every episode of Doctor Who has to be an event. It has

to be an event. It has to be the thing the paper is talking about that day.

So when you come to do the Christmas Special, which has to be an event

episode obviously, I kind of think we’re fighting fit for that. We’re used to


 The additional things that are different about Christmas, though they’re not

massively different, is that we have to remember that a lot of people will be

forced into watching it that don’t normally watch Doctor Who. Probably, you

know, there’s people – you know, your parents getting dragged in, grannies

getting dragged in. You have to sort of – you have to have a sort of quite basic

version of Doctor Who.

 But when I say that I know I’m lying because actually that happens with every

episode of Doctor Who. And people certainly in Britain know Doctor Who

incredibly well. So it doesn’t need a lot of introduction even to people who

don’t watch it that often.

 The other challenges – I do think a Christmas Special should be Christmassy. I

think there’s no point in trying to pretend an ordinary episode would pass

muster on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t.

 You know, it’s a highly sugared day. People are exhausted by six o’clock on a

Saturday. They’ve had food, they’ve been drinking champagne since 10

o’clock in the morning. They’re not – and they’ve probably eaten an amount of

chocolate that would kill a horse. You know, it’s not – they’re not in the same


 So you have to sort of cut through an even louder living room than normal

with your story. And I can admit all these things are just exaggerations of

Doctor Who. Doctor Who is always like that.

 I don’t know how clear it is to an American audience and sometimes in the

way they react to it I wonder if it’s very unclear to them that Doctor Who is an

early evening Saturday show in Britain. It’s surrounded by shiny floor shows.

It’s shown in houses full of children all yelling and talking at once. And mum

and dad doing the cooking and maybe a Hoover. It has to be a loud clarion

call of a show to survive all that.

 I know you guys watch it later in the evening and I sometimes think it must

feel a bit loud for nine o’clock. But it seems to be going very well so I

shouldn’t complain.

Jessica Dwyer: And why did it take so long to have Santa be a plot point in a Christmas

Special for Doctor Who?

Steven Moffat: Well the simple dull – the dull answer is that it took me this long to think of it.

And so, no big deal. I think it’s oh so true that now that this is Doctor Who’s

tenth year at the heart of the Christmas schedule he’s now earned the right to

go toe to toe with Santa, you know? It feels about right.

 It’s one of those ideas that when you have it you just – for goodness sake why

has it not happened before now? Why haven’t we seen them, you know, in a

buddy movie together before now? They belong together. And it’s something

in the hearts I’m sure of the younger part of our audience Doctor Who and

Santa Claus live – and Robin Hood – all very much live in the same place.

 So that’s – it’s irresistible once you’ve thought of it. But, you know, and also

because of the format of the show we can contrive anything to happen. So

here we are.

Jessica Dwyer: That’s awesome. Thank you so much. And thank you for casting Nick Frost.  His name screams Christmas and Santa.

Steven Moffat: Yes, Nicholas Frost is a name Santa would choose isn’t it? If he was going for

a nom de plume. He’d call him – and it fit’s much better than Kris Kringle -

Nicholas Frost.

Jessica Dwyer: Exactly. Thank you so much.

Steven Moffat: Pleasure.

The Doctor Who Christmas Special airs Christmas Day!

Jessica’s Archives: David Tennant for Fright Night

I’ve been doing the writing gig for a while now and I’ve been blessed to have talked to some pretty amazing people over the years.  So starting with this entry I’m going to do what I call “Jessica’s Archives,”  some of the best and most interesting interviews I’ve done over the years.

The first I’ve chosen is David Tennant because he is simply amazing and is one of my favorite actors ever.  I was beyond thrilled to get to talk to him because of this and the fact I love Fright Night.  As it turns out I think I was one of only a few writers here in the States to get to talk to him about the film due to his schedule and locale in the UK.

A few facts about this interview:

1.  He’s just finished rehearsals for Much Ado About Nothing with Catherine Tate.  And by just finished I mean literally only a couple hours before.

2.  I sent the DVD of Fantastic Journey and they never gave it to him.  I sent it AGAIN to his agent and they never gave it to him either.  I know this because one of my co-writers for HorrorHound saw him over a year later and he remembered I was going to give it to him and told him he’d never gotten it.  So David, someday…I’ll just put it right in your hand.

3.  My friend’s kids are HUGE Doctor Who fans and David was kind enough to do the shout out to them.  Their faces upon hearing it were amazing.

4.  This was for HorrorHound issue 30 which you can purchase here

And here is David Tennant:


Fright Night 2- Redux Film Coverage

Fright Night 2 is coming to DVD next month.  The film is a sort of sequel but really more of a remake of the remake that starred Colin Farrell.  But its also sort of a remake of the sequel to the original.  All in all…its best just to enjoy the movie when it hits DVD this October.

Fangirl Magazine along with HorrorHound Magazine were given some exclusives for the release including the below interview with star Jamie Murray, a clip from the film showing Jamie in all her bloody glory, and an exclusive still for your viewing pleasure.

Be sure to tune into Fangirl Radio at 5pm Pacific on September 26th to hear our interview with the films director Eduardo Rodriguez on Jackalope Radio.

Our Exclusive Clip from Fright Night 2


Fright Night 2:  Fright Night Redux

By Jessica Dwyer

The Fright Night remake released in 2011 and starring Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin was a fun remake of the original film.  It didn’t try to copy it scene for scene, it updated the story and took key elements from it for the new film’s plot.

In the surprise direct to DVD follow up things are even more changed.  Fright Night 2 is a sequel/remake of the original Fright Night and also a remake of the originals sequel.  If you follow that good for you, if you don’t I’ll explain.

When high school student Charlie attends a study abroad program with his horror obsessed friend “Evil” Ed and ex-girlfriend AMY in Romania, he soon discovers their young attractive professor Gerri (Jaime Murray) is a real life vampire. Too bad no one believes him. In fact, Evil Ed finds it amusing and it only feeds his vampire obsession. When Gerri turns Ed, Charlie seeks out Peter Vincent, the infamous vampire hunter (well, he plays one on TV) who is in Romania filming his show “Fright Night,” to teach him how to take down Gerri before she gets to Amy, who’s blood will cure Gerri of spending eternity as a vampire.”

So yes, you read that right.  Gerri Dandridge is now a beautiful and seductive woman (not Jerry’s sister as the female vampire in Fright Night 2 “the original” was.)  And also the entire plot is a redux of sorts of the original (and remake) Fright Night.  It’s certainly a different way to follow up a film.  But one thing we can agree on is the casting of Jaime Murray as a beautiful and seductive vampires.

Jaime Murray is no stranger to genre TV or film.  Many horror fans will know her as Lila Tournay, Dexter’s equally as unbalanced girlfriend from early in the series.  She’s starred in Warehouse 13 on the SyFy channel and is currently starring in Defiance.  She’s also been in the films The Deaths of Ian Stone and Devil’s Playground.

Jaime’s excitement for Fright Night 2 is evident when I talked with her about the film and what it’s like for female characters to finally get to be the bad guy and the one to fear.

HH:  So how did you come to be a part of this film?

JM:  You know I was super lucky.   I think that if you look at me closely…I am genuinely the palest dark haired actress in the room.  And for years I was watching different vampire movies that were appearing and I was like “I’m a gaunt pale dark haired woman!  Why aren’t I doing one of these things?”  I mean I look like a vampire when I’m doing my grocery shopping.  So it kind of fell in my lap a little bit.

I spoke to the producers and after I read the script and I said this is really interesting to me.  There’s something really…when I was playing in Spartacus…there’s something about Gaia when she’s talking to the slave girls, which is kind of abusive and vampiric.  And she was almost toying with this girl when she was talking to her and kind of fascinated by her innocence.

And I think that the vampire myth is very prevalent in our times because it really is the story of the loss of innocence, the loss of self.  It’s about the seduction of charm and artifice which is essentially and emptiness and will never lead you to a happy place.  It’s that deal you make with the devil.  The moment when you’re feeling that charm or that ecstasy…or that light shown upon you.    And as any of these…the myth progresses that ugliness shows and you wonder…

HH:  What have I done?

JM:  Yeah! And with Colin there was this…you really looked at the element of addiction.  That kind that vampiric people and narcissists have.  And I think that was a really interesting way of grounding it.  And I was kind of really looking at vanity and narcissism and misuses of power.  It was pretty frightening.

HH:  The theme that I find interesting here is the fact that this is the first time Gerri has ever been a female in the movie.

JM:  First of all Charlie is still a male.  So we have our hero who’s not just dealing with the vampire neighbor next door but he’s dealing with a woman.  And you know for a teenage boy, dealing with a woman has all its own problems.  She’s very charming, she’s very seductive, and she’s very challenging.  She’s got no boundaries. There’s gender issues.  There’s something terrifying about him trying to deal with her.

HH:  And it sounds like the whole seduction of Amy thing is still happening…so he’s got to deal with a woman trying to take away his girlfriend…so it’s really flipped now.  How did you approach that part of the role?

JM:  It was interesting because I actually read a lot of Junging and Freud analysis of the vampire myth.  And there was this whole part that really interested me about vampiric mothers.  And it was using vampiric as a psychological term for narcissistic mothers.  So stage mothers.  And mothers who have not been given..It’s a generational thing that they weren’t appreciated themselves so when they have their own children they live through them vicariously.  So the child has no sense of self because they have no sense of self.  So there is something very uncomfortable and ugly with my scenes with Amy where I was kind of fascinated by her…and I was just wanting to drink her all in to fill my own emptiness.

HH:  That’s very creepy.

JM:  But I was also very maternal.

HH:  That’s even creepier.

JM:  There was something very loving about it, but then there was this desire to pervert her and take her my way.  It was very creepy and I got to tell you I didn’t sleep very well while I was filming this film.  But I was kind of looking at the real psychological ugliness.

HH:  That’s great to hear.  It really feels like recently female vampires are taking back the genre….which is great since Carmella was actually before Dracula.

JM:  We actually use the story of Elizabeth Bathory.   Gerri…she was turned as Elizabeth Bathory.  She was turned by a vampire so she was condemned.  And she is looking for a way out.  She is looking for the blood of a particular virgin to end her suffering.  So you may actually feel sympathy for her in some parts.

WalkingFigureFromBurningCarExclusive Image From Fright Night 

HH:  Talking to horror in general. You’ve played a couple of very strong characters in the genre, with Lila and now with Gerri.

JM:   I have done a lot of genre yeah.

HH:  Do you like where this is going now, where women can be just as bad and powerful as the guys?

JM:  I certainly don’t want anyone to emulate the women that I’ve played.  Because they are pretty twisted up and complex.  What I would say is I love the genre…the issues are so big.  Life and death, good and evil, avarice and greed, hope and courage.  I think that within those massive themes as an actor it is very fulfilling to play within them.

But it’s cathartic for the audience to watch the choices these characters make in these highly stressed heightened situations.  And yeah it’s nice to play women who are not just the window into the male psyche.  I don’t want to do that.  I don’t want to be color for the hero.  I don’t think I have been.  I’ve been really lucky to be acting at a time when things have changed and it’s possible for women to play individuals who stand alone and who are significantly strong and complex to engage and audience.

Just in time for Walking Dead 3.4 The Gov and Robert Kirkman!

Hey Fangirls and boys!  Jessica Dwyer here with some late coming treats post Halloween.

I got the chance to speak with the awesome David Morrissey, the man with the plan AKA The Governor as well as Robert Kirkman, the man who created The Walking Dead.  It was a great chance to learn some of the background behind this new take on the villain of the comic series and to see if Kirkman himself would ever be interested in doing a Marvel Zombies project in the future.  Here’s the three part interview:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


The Walking Dead: A couple of Questions

Hey Walkers,

Jessica Dwyer here with some goodies for your ears.

I had a chance to chat with Walking Dead star and resident scruffy sexy sheriff Andrew Lincoln and powerhouse producer Gale Anne Hurd recently.  With Season 3 already shaping up to be one of the best seasons of the show (and without question some of the best TV of this year) I was very excited to get to pick their brains (not eat them) in regards to the new season.

Here’s the audio of our conversation which covered the range of what led our heroes through the 7 months that have passed as well as the look of the show this season and weird duality of the good guys being in the darkest, dankest place while the bad guys are in brightly lit alternate Mayberry.


Walking Dead Audio Part 1

Walking Dead Audio Part 2

Elijah Wood and his dog: Wilfred

Elijah Wood’s new series on FX, Wilfred, premiers Thursday June 23rd at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific right before the Season Two premiere of Louie at 10:30. The show is based off an Australian comedy created by co-star Jason Gann about Wilfred, a man in a dog costume who’s really a regular size dog…but the man size alter ego can only be seen by the hapless Ryan (Elijah Wood).

Wilfred isn’t a nice cuddly puppy by any means. He’s crude, rude, and he’s starting to make Ryan doubt his sanity. If this sounds like something you’ve never seen before, you are right. FX has become the home to some pretty daring shows that audiences are amazed and glad to see come to their screens here in the states. Shows like Sons of Anarchy, Justified, and Nip/Tuck are some of the heavy hitters the network has served up that are edgy and have become hits. Wilfred looks to join that family in a leg humping, funny and hillarious way.

Fangirl Magazine’s Danni Stinger joined in on a Q and A with the stars of the show, Elijah Wood and Jason Gann, to discuss the unique series. Here are some of the highlights:
Amy Harrington from PopCulturePassionistas.

A. Harrington: Elijah, we imagine that you get offered a lot of TV roles and we’re wondering why you chose this one?

E. Wood I actually don’t get offered a lot of TV roles. I read a few scripts, mainly dramas. I was just interested in taking a look at television because I really had never seen what was kind of available and what people were making on television. It’s changed so much even in the last five years. I don’t know, I read this script … the last scripts that I was sent, and my manager sent it to me and said it was the funniest thing that she’d ever read. I loved it and it kind of blew my mind. It was unlike anything I’ve read or seen on television. A perfect extreme in funny but also sort of cerebral and strange and difficult to describe, which I think is always a good thing.

Jamie Ruby from Media Blvd.

J. Ruby Can you kind of talk to us about your characters in the show and kind of give us a little bit on them?

E. Wood Yes, Jason, you want to chime in on it?

J. Gann Well “Wilfred” is a dog. The world sees a dog. “Ryan” sees a man in a cheap dog suit who smokes bongs and pretty much terrorizes him. But you know, we sort of think that after a while that maybe “Wilfred” is an angel and a devil on his shoulder, giving him advice and trying to bring him back into the real world. That’s “Wilfred’s” character. Elijah?

E. Wood Yes, “Ryan” is essentially a guy who had followed a path that was ultimately not of his choosing for far too long. He listened to his family, listened to his father, did kind of what he thought everyone else wanted him to do as opposed to following his own interests. As a result of that in this pilot, we find him in a place where he’s hit a wall, essentially, and it’s made him suicidal.

He’s kind of a broken individual. He’s someone that hasn’t really busted out of himself to live freely and to live with confidence and to define himself, and ultimately that’s where “Wilfred” arrives. He arrives sort of in that moment of crisis to push “Ryan” outside of the self-imposed and sort of family-imposed boundaries that have been created around him.

Andrea Towers from VoiceofTV.

A. Towers There’s a huge influx of shows from Europe that have been brought overseas throughout the past few years. Some are successful. Some aren’t so successful. I’m curious to know how you think your show will be received over in the U.S. in terms of—I know it’s darker. It’s probably a little more unconventional than what normal audiences are used to.

J. Gann Despite the fact that the show is called Wilfred, and there’s a dog called “Wilfred” in it, and I’m in the suit playing “Wilfred,” it’s a really different show. Maybe the reason why some of those reboots don’t work is because they’re trying to just translate something from one territory into another and the only thing that’s different is sort of some accents and stuff, whereas this is a completely new show.

David Zuckerman, the show runner, had a completely new vision for it. When he first told me about it he said he saw a different vehicle for this great character that he loved. So I don’t even compare the two shows. This show really stands on its own, and so, look, I’m not worried about any comparisons or failed reboot of the successful show because they’re two different creatures.

Sheldon Wiebe from

S. Wiebe I, like most of the people on the call today, have never seen the Australian version, and I’m just wondering—now you say this is a totally different animal, Jason. How so?

J. Gann Well originally in November of this year will have been ten years since I wrote the seven-minute short film that won festivals around the world and went to Sundance. So that seven-minute short was already very popular, and so we just set up a premise in essentially a seven-minute short. So for the Australian series, we just used the first seven minutes in the pilot as the first seven minutes of the show.

So we didn’t go into a lot about what the psychology of the show, of the relationship between the guy and the dog. There was no background story for the guy. We didn’t go into his psychology at all. It was really a love triangle between the guy, the dog, and the girl. Whereas this show is, for starters, a buddy comedy more so than—it does have love triangle elements in it, but each episode is about “Ryan.” “Wilfred” kind of drives the stories and the audience is constantly left to argue with each other or with themselves as to whether this is all happening inside “Ryan’s” mind. Are we going crazy? What’s really going on?

In the Australian version, we just sort of said, “The guy can see the dog.” We said it in the first minute of the show, and then we just went on with it. The Australian show had more of a British kind of sensibility and the style of The Young Ones or The Mighty Boosh where things are a bit more abstract and absurdist. So this show goes into the psychology more, and I think it’s smarter … about “Ryan” rather than about a love triangle.

Jim Napier from

J. Napier So I can really tell that your chemistry on the phone call and from what I’ve seen of the show is amazing, and I’m really excited for the entirety of the season. One thing that sticks out to me when I first thought of this show is the fact that it reminds me of Jimmy Stewart’s Harvey. There’s obviously a big difference between Wilfred and that, but did you pull from any films or life experiences, obviously probably more life experience when crafting this show?

J. Gann Personally it is a role a lot of life experiences that poured into the creation of the Wilfred character, but it’s interesting. The Harvey reference has come up quite a bit. That wasn’t in our minds when we first created the character or the Australian version. But it’s interesting, like I just had a thought then like about like Jimmy Stewart like just how much—what it is I love about him as an actor and how he brings this incredible authenticity to his characters, unique authenticity that we actually as an audience. We’re sort of prompted to believe in him even though we can see that there’s no rabbit. We can see what everyone else is thinking, but we believe in him.

I don’t want to embarrass Elijah, but I think that Elijah brings something really similar and he really makes my job as playing “Wilfred” a lot easier, because seeing through his eyes it’s easier to believe it and so we’re ready, as an audience, hopefully ready to suspend our disbelief.

E. Wood Thanks, Jason. Yes that’s interesting that reference to Harvey. Jason and I immediately thought of that as well. I’m a huge fan of that film. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it, and it was interesting the parallel. I mean the parallel, it’s obviously similar but it’s extremely different, but that notion of our sort of imagined friend is quite similar and I think there’s something kind of beautiful about that.

Daniella Stinger from Fan Girl Magazine.

D. Stinger Elijah, the character of “Ryan” starts out fairly depressed. Do you feel that he’s essentially the straight man in a comedy double act or does he really fit that definition?

E. Wood Do I feel he’s a straight man? Yes, I think he is. I mean ultimately I think “Ryan’s” just trying to get everything together constantly. So he’s essentially reacting to the world around him and to the scenarios that “Wilfred” is trying to put him into and the direction that he’s being pulled constantly. So straight man, yes, but he’s also just in this time of crisis in his life and he’s just trying to hold it all together all the time. Having a genuine relationship with this man in a dog suit and then also trying to balance that relationship with the real people who he knows can’t see that man in a dog suit, and then in the midst of all that trying to rebuild himself and to be the best person that he can be.

The Creepture Feature HorrorShow Podcast

Hey Fangirls (and boys)

Your friendly neighborhood editor was interviewed on The Creepture Feature Podcast recently.  Feel free to listen to it as they recount the history of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then I show up to ramble about writing, Women In Horror, and of course they make me talk about Johnny Depp (such a chore).

Click here

Timothy Olyphant, totally Justified



Recently I got to sit in on a great conference callwith the awesome Timothy Olyphant to discuss his new season of the badass series Justified.  If ever you doubted that Olyphant was a smooth operator let me tell you…he is.

Below is the Q and A with the man who has one of the sexiest drawls on TV (this was discussed as well during the Q and A, and surprisingly not by me.)   In fact there were arounf 40 or so people on the call and not everyone got to get their question answered.  I in fact DID because I am fast like ninja.

Justified Season 2 started this week on FX.

Question: What have you learned about Raylan, from filming Season 2?

TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: Well, he’s not any taller than he used to be. I’m not sure. You know, I’m terrible at that. I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m just trying to figure out what to do next. But, he seems like he’s got a lot problems, as usual.

What keeps challenging you about playing this character?

OLYPHANT: The character is just a joy to play. It’s more just about the beast of television production and just trying to keep your head above water and stay in front of it, and just remember how much fun it is.

Why do you think people keep tuning in to watch Justified?

OLYPHANT: Well, if they are like me, they think it’s really good. I’m proud of the show. I think it’s good story telling. It starts, first and foremost, with Elmore [Leonard], and I’m a big fan of his. I think Graham [Yost] and the rest of the writers have just really sunk their teeth into it and done a wonderful job. It’s good stuff, and it’s hard to find good stuff.

Are there actors from westerns or cop shows that influenced your take on Raylan?

OLYPHANT: No. I really didn’t look past the books. After that, I tend to draw inspiration from whatever just floats my boat, for the moment. But, I really spend a lot of time with the source material and I read those books constantly, and spent time with Elmore [Leonard]. And then, I had conversations with Graham [Yost]. And, there were some conversations with U.S. Marshals.

Have you gotten any chance to go to Kentucky and associate with life down there?

OLYPHANT: We are currently filming a great deal of the show out in Santa Clarita. In the summertime, you just head straight towards the sun and, just before you catch on fire, there it is. Our producers and locations managers are doing a hell of a job. They’ve got their work cut out for them. I haven’t actually visited that part of the country. I spent time with people and talked to a lot of people. Over the break, our writers all went down there as a group. A lot of characters that you’ll see this season are based on people they’ve met. I’m thrilled that it feels like we’re capturing it because, Lord knows, we’re giving it the old college try.

Now that you’re a producer this season, what made you want to get involved on that level? How much are you involved, behind the scenes?

OLYPHANT: Last year, I just pretended to be a producer and I rather enjoyed it, so I thought I might as well get the credit. It’s really one of the great joys of the job, and one of the real challenges of the whole thing.

How does it feel to get to play a modern-day cowboy every week? Does it feel like you’re living out childhood games of cowboys and Indians?

OLYPHANT: I can’t take full credit for it. I’m really just saying the words and trying to bring it to life. It’s all cowboys and Indians, when it comes down to it. It’s child’s play, and I get a great deal of fulfillment out it. It just so happens, every now and then, that you put on an actual cowboy hat and it brings it all home. It’s always fun to play cops and robbers and, in this case, it’s more like cops and hillbillies. It’s a blast. It’s a kick to be able to play what they call a drama, but day in and day out, I think we’re making a comedy. It’s a lot of fun.

Raylan can be compared to a modern-day John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, who is rough around the edges and smooth with the ladies, and who has his own set of right and wrong. Have you ever thought about it like that?

OLYPHANT: Not until just now. You know, when I read the books, that was in the ballpark of what I was thinking. The books are great. The character is iconic.

This show is presenting a world that is really terrifying. How do you balance presenting something that we don’t want to see, in a way that makes it compelling, so that we really want to see it?

OLYPHANT: You know, it’s scary out there, and our job is to try to make that entertaining. That’s more or less the deal that we all signed up for. Life moves pretty fast and it’s pretty scary, but at the end of the day, the show’s about a guy who’s trying to do the right thing and get through the day with some sense of his reality intact. I think there’s a certain comfort in that.

How do you enjoy the opportunity to build a character over time in television versus building a character for a film?

OLYPHANT: In a film, you more or less know the beginning, middle and end, and you might have some wiggle room in there. But, this really is a journey and I’ve been very fortunate to be allowed in on a part of that process. That is one of the real challenges for me, that I’ve really enjoyed. I don’t think of it as building a character. I just think of it as telling a story, and I don’t know how it’s going to end. That’s the fun of it. At the end of the day, the same things apply. I’m still trying figure out what is going on, from scene to scene, and basic rules still apply. The tremendous upside here is that it’s such a great character, and it’s really tough to get your hands on a great character.


What sort of impact will the relationship between Raylan and Mags Bennett have on Season 2, and how has it been to work with Margo Martindale?

OLYPHANT: The whole bunch of them are just fantastic – both the characters and the actors playing the Bennetts. Margo’s just the real deal. I don’t know what else is on TV, but I’m pretty sure that’s something special. It’s a pleasure to work with her and Jeremy [Davies], and all those guys. They’re just great, and I thought we were onto something special. The inspiration for the character came from Elmore [Leonard]. He had a character in one of his books that was a man, and Graham [Yost] wanted to make the character a woman. Margo is just such a fantastic choice. As far as the families and the history, that’s something that Graham and I were both really interested in exploring this year, in that Hatfield-McCoy kind of culture and styles. It’s been really nice, throughout the season, to keep deepening that history and peeling back the layers. You find out more and more as we go. As the story goes, we come back around and get a little deeper. The world we created this year is just really rich.

How is the Raylan/Boyd relationship changing in Season 2, and what has it been like to work with Walton Goggins this season?

OLYPHANT: Walt’s fantastic. Anytime he’s on the call sheet, I know it’s going to be an easy day for me because I just sit back and let him do all the work. When you’ve got someone who’s going to take things moment to moment and keep you on your toes, it reminds me of my acting teachers saying, “Just work off the other person.” When you’ve got someone like Walt, it makes that real easy to do it. As far as his character goes, it’s really great. We had a lot of fun with him this year. As Elmore [Leonard] has said, he’s one of these guys where I don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth, but I can’t stop listening to him. He just seems like he could be whoever and whatever he needs to be, given the situation. We really had a lot of fun watching him start out lost in the woods, and then regain his footing and find his way, and come back to life. He’s in a completely more dangerous and compelling way this year than last year.

How do you think Raylan sees Boyd?

OLYPHANT: I honestly don’t think he sees him as a friend, in terms of their relationship. All we’ve told you, according to my scripts, is that they have a history. There’s an understanding between them, but beyond that, I think that’s it. Their worlds collide. Given what he does, and given what my character does, they’re going to keep running into each other.

How is the dynamic between Raylan and his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) changing this season?

OLYPHANT: Natalie is fantastic. The same things I said about working with Walt Goggins, I’d say about working with her. They’re just great, as is Nick Searcy. He’s just a pro, but he’s not as good-looking as she is, so I’m less interested in that storyline. Graham [Yost] is the one who started the idea of these two getting back together. It was a broken relationship, but there was still some sexual tension. After we shot the stuff, it just seemed like there was a lot more going on there. It was a lot more interesting. So, when Graham and I got together, before we went back to work, that was a relationship that we were both really interested in exploring. I said to Graham, “If one of my buddies comes over to the house and tells me he’s fucking his ex-wife, we might not talk about anything else for the rest of the evening. I’m curious. I want to know how that works. And, if he tells me he’s in love with her, then I’m really interested.” We had a lot of fun with that relationship this year. I think it’s really one of the more interesting things we’ve done.

What are some of the moments that have made you stop and think, “This is great television”?


OLYPHANT: I’m not a huge fan of every episode, but there’s not an episode that goes by without me finding something where I’m like, “That’s just good drama. It’s good storytelling.” The examples are countless. This season, where do I start? From an acting standpoint, it’s fun to be in a scene where me asking Mags, “How’s business?,” is both conversational small talk, and yet feels so loaded. That’s part of the brilliance of Elmore Leonard, and it’s very difficult to replicate, week after week. I think our writers just do a fantastic job. Those moments are a blast. I could just go on forever. Honestly, the job is just a joy, day in and day out. I’ve never left that set and not thought to myself, “That was great. That was just a great scene. It was a great moment. It was a great performance.” Not mine, but I’m just talking about the ones around me. I put in long hours on this puppy, but at the end of the day, you just always walk away going, “God, you know, there’s something to be proud of. It was pretty cool.”

Deadwood, and your work on that show, started the whole western coming back again, and now there’s Justified, as well as True Grit. What do you think it is that keeps westerns cool?

OLYPHANT: First of all, I just showed up to work on Deadwood. That was David Milch’s baby. That’s a genius at work, just turning a genre on its head, and it was really something special to be a part of. I read this fantastic interview with Walter Mosley, in the L.A. Times, where he talked about our show. He said that westerns were made during a time where people really believed in America, and that Americans believed in something very clear about good versus evil. And, as that got a little more foggy, the westerns went away. And, he was really curious about this guy, Raylan Givens, who appears to be born maybe 100 years too late, and stuck in a modern world, asking those questions again.

Do you think that Raylan Givens will become one of those iconic TV characters?

OLYPHANT: I really appreciate that. That’s very generous of you. I knew when I read the thing that I had to close the deal before somebody else got a whiff of this thing. I trust that I know a good part when I see one and usually, when I see one, I have to wait for seven people to pass, in order for me to get it. I knew it was a good part. I knew it was good writing. I knew that Elmore [Leonard], when done right, is just something that I love. Beyond that, when I run into people on the street, they have been very generous and complimentary. It’s nice. You’re out there telling stories and you’re hoping to find an audience, and it’s very appreciated.

Every character that you play, whether in this show or in films, just seems completely unique and different. Is that because of your choices as an actor, or is it the quality of scripts that you get offered?

OLYPHANT: I don’t know. I’ve been really lucky, especially the last two years. I’ve been working for a long time and I’ve just really been allowed to work, with very little of the baggage and the pressures that can come with my job. Year after year, for quite some time now, I’ve just been allowed to keep doing it and just get better. When you do it for 10 or 12, or however many years I’ve been doing it, if you’re not good by now, then I think that’s going to be about it. I’ve really realized how much I enjoy the job and, at this point in my life, I show up to work with a real interest and a real commitment and a level of confidence. I’m not looking for answers when I show up to the set. I’m just asking the questions, over and over. I think I’ve been given some great material. In the last couple years, I did a small movie called High Life that went to the Berlin Film Festival, I did A Perfect Getaway, I did The Crazies, and there’s this TV work that I’ve been able to do, like with those guys in Damages. They’ve just been really great roles, and I’ve been able to have a meaningful dialogue and collaboration with the filmmakers on each one of those projects. Each time, it’s led to work that I’m really pleased with and proud of.

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