'Justified' Star Garret Dillahunt: There's Only 1 Place Left for Ty Walker to Go

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·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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Things have spun wildly out of control for Ty Walker on this final season of Justified, and when last we saw Avery Markham’s (Sam Elliott) mercenary, he’d killed for some much-needed medical supplies and was headed to… where?

Walker portrayer Garret Dillahunt, who was reunited with his Deadwood pal Timothy Olyphant for the Justified gig, talks to Yahoo TV about how Walker landed in this desperate place, reminiscing with Olyphant, his upcoming Amazon Prime drama Hand of God and a guest appearance on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and how he and a few of our other favorite funny guys ended up in Ingrid Michaelson’s new music video.

When I first heard that you and Sam Elliott had been cast in the show, it just seemed like, “Yes, how has he not already been on Justified?” Is it something that you and Tim Olyphant had talked about earlier on in the series?
We didn’t know exactly what it would be, but definitely, I had wanted to do it. His show shoots roughly the same time Raising Hope would shoot. We would see each other at Fox get-togethers, and I was always happy to see him because he is a funny guy. His show went longer than my show, so I was free, and I sent him a text that said, “Hey, I’ve got some time on my hands.” I had shot the Hand of God pilot after Raising Hope ended, but it was going to be a while until we started shooting the rest of the season, so I was just twirling my thumbs and it was a perfect time.

Related: Graham Yost on Winona’s Return, Ava’s Camping Trip

Did you have a hand in developing Ty Walker?
A little bit. These guys don’t need much help, and I didn’t want to… I just didn’t want to hurt the show. They’ve built something over the past five seasons, and they deserve a fair and complete send-off. I just didn’t want to be the weak link or distraction, although I wanted to be on it. Tim’s very active in helping actors find little things that people might not have considered. There were a few things… the beard is something that I had for Hand of God, and I was afraid that by the time we finished Justified I wouldn’t have time to grow it back before it was time to [resume Hand of God]. I said, “What if I just keep it, just let it keep growing?” Just little things like that, little ideas, but they are very receptive to it.

Ty seems to have an allergy issue, too.
I guess I never thought of it as an allergy… I just came in blowing my nose one time, and I thought it would be sort of funny. I don’t think he’s disrespectful; he’s just confident. I don’t think he underestimates the [locals] at all, because a lot of tough soldiers come from hillbilly country, and he’d be aware of that. It’s just one of those little things that humanize the moment.

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His military background humanizes him, too. You can imagine that he and his cohorts have seen a lot of bad things — what we know happened to Choo-Choo, for example — and you can see how they chose this path, hiring themselves out as mercenaries.
I agree. When [Justified showrunner] Graham [Yost] called and told me a little about the guy, I immediately called some ex-military friends of mine. I didn’t know I’d be in a suit and sort of a sleek front man, and not do a whole lot of actual military things. I was getting ready, and I wanted to do that because you just instinctively have a lot of sympathy for our [military veterans]. The things we expect them to do and then the very little help they get when they return. It’s kind of a stunning behavior, isn’t it, on the part of us? It’s like “Yeah, yeah we need to mold you into this weapon, where you can do incredible things and still stand upright, see yourself in the mirror, and just come along. Yeah, you’ll be fine. Good luck. Come on, snap out of it.” Not to say it’s an excuse for any kind of bad behavior, but it certainly makes it seem understandable. This is what these men are good at, and let’s at least do it together. I’m sure there was a lot of legit stuff at first, and then they just fell in with the guys who aren’t so legit.

Related: Graham Yost on the Death (and Easter Egg) in ‘Alive Day’

Things have gone very badly for Ty and his team. Does he have a big plan, or is he in pure survival mode now?
He’s certainly in survival mode. I think he knows he’s in deep s—t. He knows he’s been cut loose. The good news is, now he knows there’s no one he can count on, which makes him pretty dangerous I think, and also pretty desperate. He ends up [thinking], “What are my options? I’m wounded, there’s a massive manhunt happening, where do I go?” It’s gamble time, and there’s only one place left.

In the end, Choo-Choo was killed, and Seabass turned on Ty. Would Ty ever have turned on them?
Well, as upset as he was about [getting an order to kill] Choo-Choo, he went out there to do it. He didn’t say, “No way,” and he didn’t go get Choo-Choo and run. He said, “I don’t like it, but I guess I’ve got to do it.” In his case, it’s like Of Mice and Men. Lenny’s friend didn’t want to put him down, but he’s just like, this guy, he’s dangerous. He’s killing people indiscriminately, and let me at least give him the honor of being the one that… maybe I’m putting too much on him, but it’s the story I constructed.

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No, the Lenny-George parallel is perfect, at least for Ty and Choo-Choo. Maybe not Seabass so much.
Seabass and Choo-Choo had a real fun relationship, but Seabass was hard on him I guess. I like those guys very much. Scott Grimes deserves a lot of credit, and Duke Davis Roberts, that is one of his first roles ever, and I think he really struck a cord with a lot of people. He’s a big galoot, a former amateur MMA fighter, but he’s a real sweetheart. He’s one of those smiling, happy guys who was just so thrilled to be there. We would talk about him when he wasn’t there. It wasn’t like we were blowing smoke, we were just saying, “This kid, he’s pretty great. He’s got something. He’s got a real quality that’s appealing both on set and on camera.” I hope to see a lot more of Duke. 

You said you felt a lot of responsibility with it being the show’s wrap-up and everything, but was it fun to do this last season?
Absolutely. I totally love it. It worked out perfectly, and they are going to pull it off. They are going to go out with a bang, and to be included in that is nice. Personally, I think it was one of their best seasons. Not saying it because I’m there, but I think everyone is very motivated to make it happen. I think they are going out just the way they should. I like how committed everyone was. It was long days, trying to make something special. If something is not working, they find a way around it. Tim and I spent a lot of time on set talking about our experience on Deadwood and how we often, on every other job we’ve had since, tried to replicate that experience, really to no avail most of the time, because it’s just not going to happen again. But on Justified… here’s a great scene already on the paper. How do we make it even better? What’s not on the page? I think this cast is really good at that. They find these little things that are unusual, that might not even be remarked upon during the playing of the scene. Even as simple as blowing your nose coming out of the bathroom. It’s a way to get to a garbage can that’s over by Raylan. It’s an annoyance in real life, but they find a way around that. Like the season the guy was running with the knife and fell into the hole. It cracks the audience up. I don’t know if I’m the best representative to talk about it in my short time on the show, but I appreciated that and I appreciated the humor that they bring. Because in the darkest moments there is humor, and they seem aware of that. And the dialogue on the show… it’s just a real treat.

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The first season of Hand of God premieres later this year. What can you say about the relationship between your character, KD, and Ron Perlman’s Judge Parnell when the show resumes?
It’s an interesting part. It’s seems to be very polarizing. It makes some people angry for some reason. I’m not quite sure why, because I don’t think we are saying either there is a God or there isn’t a God. But some people think it’s too pro-Christian, others think it’s too anti-Christian. Well which is it?

Related: Graham Yost on the Kiss and the Cattle Prod in ‘Sounding’

You’re probably doing something right, or something interesting, if you’re provoking both sides though, right?
That’s my hope. On my end, I feel we are doing a very specific story about some very specific people. When I read the first script I was like, “No, no, no, don’t do it. Don’t do it,” then like, “Oh my God! You just killed and buried a cop in the field.” You set yourselves on a path that cannot end well. These are things that have been explored before… Breaking Bad comes to mind, that sort of doomed plan, but it’s a very different story.

You have a guest appearance coming up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine; are you playing an NYPD cop?
I do: Cop Kong, the greatest cop ever in the history of cops. I think I get more nervous joining a group like that than probably any other thing. There is just a real expertise and everybody has really sunk into their character now, and they’ve got security about the rest of the season, and they are really free and easy. I had a really good time on that one. Andy [Samberg] is cool, works right off you. I hang out the most with Melissa Fumero, which is a big part of my storyline, but I really liked them all.

You’re also in the fun new video for Ingrid Michaelson’s “Time Machine.” How did it come about?
SoulPancake, Rainn Wilson’s company, produced it. He called a bunch of friends, and he’s like, “Hey, I’m doing this video, do you want to be in it?” I didn’t know Ingrid before. I saw her concert in Central Park, and we’ve become friends. She’s got a great voice. That’s how the video came about, though. Rainn called a bunch of friends, and we didn’t even know what we were going to be doing. I showed up at the beach that day, and played this weird yogi. We were doing yoga on the beach… you shoot a lot more than you use. She’s great, and it was a fun way to kill an afternoon.

You are sporting quite a bit of eyeliner there. Whose idea was that?
[Laughs.] Yes, lots of eyeliner. I think it was my idea. I just said, “Let’s give him some guyliner.” Nothing is really explained. This guy seems like someone who is very self-conscious.

Justified airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.