The Feb. 14 episode of “Justified” was notable for a couple reasons. For one thing, it ended with Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) receiving what looked like a goodbye letter from Winona (Natalie Zea). But it also spent considerable time away from its lead character, something the show seems more and more comfortable doing after two-plus seasons.
Olyphant says viewers probably won’t have to wait too long to find out what the letter says.
“Wouldn’t it be said if we just dropped it, and the next day was just a case of the week?” he joked on a conference call with reporters. “My gut — and I say this with some insider information — is he’s not going to let that rest. I think he’s going to get to the bottom of that.”
As for “Justified’s” world growing so that other characters can carry a story — as Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) did last week — Olyphant attributes it to “the fact that we have amazing writers and an amazing cast, and I want days off.”
“When I took the job, I was pretty clear the show was about the character I was playing, but I’m less interested in a TV show that focuses on one guy so heavily,” says Olyphant, who’s also a producer of “Justified.” “I don’t know how you don’t get bored of that as an audience, and to some degree as an actor. When you have someone like Damon Herriman — I knock on the writers’ door and say, ‘Listen, this guy’s great. Send me home — he can carry this thing for as long as you want.’
“And because of my position on the show … I’ve been allowed to participate in that process and in the storytelling. So I still get a great deal of satisfaction whether I’m in a scene or not. It’s one of the great joys of the job for me.”
Olyphant doesn’t want to get too specific about what’s to come this season, but he does say “it doesn’t get any easier” for Raylan.
“You’ve got a lot of people with the capacity for violence, and you’ve got a lot of people that have conflicting wants and needs, and they all keep running up against each other. It’s a violent season — a fun, twisted, violent season, and the key to it is, hopefully, we can continue to ground these people and make you feel like, wow, they’re actually quite interesting, complicated folks. It’s been a lovely season. It feels totally different than the first two, yet very much like our show.”
“Justified” continues its third season at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday (Feb. 21) on FX.