Timothy Olyphant is badass.
Olyphant has become one of those actors whose very presence in a cast legitimizes the project for me. Sure, his early career looks like most actor’s, a few romcoms, guest spots on bad TV shows, less than stellar plots. But lightning struck when he hooked up as part of the cast of Deadwood, certain to go down as one of the all-time classic series on television. He brings such charisma and strength to a role, when he’s onscreen it’s hard not to be completely captivated.
He’s always been good in a war-themed flick; the recent Stop-Loss and the underrated When Trumpets Fade being but two examples. Domed skull in Hitman. Convincingly appropriate in culture flicks like Go and Rock Star. But he really shines when given a character with inner conflicts who might be morally ambiguous; his supporting role on Damages was a standout.
But after one episode of the new FX series Justified – hell, after one scene – I’ve come to the conclusion that Olyphant belongs under a cowboy hat. (And to think they almost cast Dermot Mulroney as the lead!)
Justified is based upon an Elmore Leonard character from his story called “Fire In The Hole“, with Olyphant playing the lead character Raylan Givens. The original title of Lawman wasn’t available thanks to Steven Segal‘s latest abuse of his fifteen minutes of fame (isn’t that voucher beyond stale by now?).
Writers include those who have worked on Karen Sisco (another Leonard-based show featuring Carla Gugino and Robert Forster) and Deadwood. And what tips the brim is that Elmore Leonard is directly involved as writer and producer. Show writers wear a bracelet that reads “What Would Elmore Do?“…now that is badass as well.
Basic cable has started to kick the major networks’ asses with more and more quality actors finding great projects and first-rate material. Mad Men and Breaking Bad give AMC huge credibility; TNT struck gold with The Closer and USA may have found their replacement for Monk in White Collar.
But FX has been on a serious roll the past couple of seasons adding drama like Justified and Sons of Anarchy and comedy shows Archer and The League. The majority of my must-see TV is on basic cable these days.
If you have not jumped on the Justified bandwagon, I implore you to do so quickly and catch up; the third episode airs next Tuesday (March 30) at 10pm. Rich characters, great atmosphere, stellar casting (Walton Goggins!), adult themes…this one is a keeper.