If you still haven’t quite gotten a bead on the character of Boyd Crowder on “Justified,” you have some company.
“It’s still a mystery to me who he is. I’m figuring it out every single day,” says the man who plays him, Walton Goggins. That’s because, he says, Boyd is “continually changing.”
“From the pilot to episode 2 was a big swing and a completely different direction, and then from Season 1 to Season 2 is an even bigger swing,” Goggins says. “If you look at the trajectory of Boyd Crowder, he was this Svengali, this showman in the pilot episode, and then this near-death experience and religious conversion, and the ambiguous nature of that conversion, only to be revealed at the end of Season 1 that he truly did believe — in some ways that was his answer.
“So when you come into Season 2 having that foundation rocked to its core, I think what we found is a man who’s not even searching for meaning — he’s searching for the absence of meaning. He’s just trying to wander and be aimless for a while. I think we find a character like that sympathetic. With the kind of vulnerability Boyd is feeling this season, you get an opportunity to see who Boyd is. … It’s really interesting to me, because I didn’t really know who he was.”
The problem, though, is that while viewers can see the shift in his character, the rest of the characters in “Justified” have known him a lot longer, and given Boyd’s very checkered past, have a hard time believing he’s really changed. “That’s really interesting, because the actions Boyd may take in the future, there may be a wider margin of forgiveness from the audience if they completely understand this guy,” Goggins says. “So we’ll see what happens.”
He’s also curious to see how that better understanding of Boyd relates to his relationship with Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), who always seems to have an eye out for Boyd. Olyphant has said the past that he doesn’t think Raylan considers Boyd a friend, but Goggins says Boyd sees it differently.
“I think he sincerely values the relationship he has with Raylan,” Goggins says, pointing to a scene in the season’s second episode where Raylan finds Boyd at the coal mine where Boyd’s taken a job and essentially challenges him on whether he’s really gone straight.
“I talked with [creator Graham Yost] and Tim about it,” he says. “I said once you say that, and maybe it’s not written here, but I’m going to tell you what Boyd’s feeling, and that is, ‘Really? That’s all you came to talk to me about? That’s what this relationship means to you after 18 men were summarily executed and you haven’t seen me since that night two or three months ago? … There was a disappointment on Boyd’s face that really kind of infused their relationship for the first five episodes. It was so wonderful to find that moment — it’s maybe not overt and certainly not explored on a surface level, but [those moments] fill in the layers. If Boyd can get hurt by Raylan, then he really cares for him.”
The other relationship Goggins is having fun exploring this season is the one between Boyd and his sister-in-law, Ava (Joelle Carter). He won’t say where it’s headed, but he’s happy that the show’s writers have allowed it to unfold slowly.
“Especially in a town like Harlan, which in my opinion is suspended in time — even though we have cell phones and things from the 21st century, it really is of another place and time — courting means something,” he says. “Ways to go about that mean something. We worked really hard to do it slowly and over time, so when we do get there, it feels like we earned it.”
You can watch the enigma of Boyd Crowder on “Justified” at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday on FX.