When He’s Good He’s Bad, When He’s Bad, He’s Better: Timothy Olyphant


crazy santaI first saw Timothy Olyphant in the movie GO.  A Christmas film about rent money, drugs, & people behaving very badly, it is a slick simple gem. In the movie Olyphant plays a hot drug dealer.  The main character leaves her friend (Katie Holmes) with him as collateral at one point. You watch the friend (Katie Holmes) go from nervous as she hangs out with the mean shirtless drug dealer, to kinda tempted by his hotness, to scared again.  Doing anything with him would definitely be a Big Mistake.  Yet you itch to see that big mistake happen.  Katie runs into him later on and she’s almost twitchy with desire to hop his bones.  You drool to see what happens next.

The next time the big O popped up on my radar was in an episode of SEX IN THE CITY.  He was the younger guy kind of boyfriend who has no TP in his disgusting apartment, who drags Carrie out in the wee after hours to the amoral fetes hosted by his younger generation, and who makes out with her at a party with a pierced tongue. (Hot!)

Mad SheriffOlyphant was almost unrecognizable when he starred for the first time in DEADWOOD a year or so later.  He arrives in a town where the a miasma of lawlessness is so thick you’d think he’d get infected from just one whiff.  And it does seem to affect him.  As sheriff he’s willing to get a little crazy & very mean if he has to in order to make Deadwood into a better town.  And of course he has to.

He walks an ethical razor’s edge and the result is inevitable: he starts having sex with a widow recently recovering from a laudanum addiction.  They are both making a very Big Mistake. There’s this one scene where she sends her daughter downstairs with the nanny to the boarding house kitchen to have dinner so she can get it on with the sheriff.  They rip her clothes off down to her corset and get to it.  They are going at it so hard plaster chunks fall off the ceiling.  We see the shot of the plaster chunk falling into her daughter’s soup below.  Not good.  The affair must end, and one of them pays a price–guess who? You see the knife twist into them both pretty hard, but the law man isn’t really made for love and marriage.

The whole show was as lawless as the town, using a Shakespearean stilted English to convey gun slinger sensibilities.  It didn’t last long, and after it was cancelled, I really didn’t think that we’d see Olyphant again. Boy was I wrong!

Cruel SheriffAlthough he’s had some movie roles that I refuse to acknowledge, (The villain in Die Hard?  Yeesh.) soon enough he found  a cozy new home on the television show JUSTIFIED.  There he plays a U.S. Marshall with a twitchy trigger finger. He makes many a Big Mistake in this show–one of them involves getting back together with his ex, Winona.  While they are a very pretty couple, their relationship is doomed if only because his approach to his job ensures that he keeps tracking nasty murderous men back to his hotel room.  There’s not enough room in his life for Winona and the bad guys — so guess which has to go?

Raylan & WinonaWhat is Olyphant’s magic? In pictures he’s a good looking guy, but it’s not until he’s acting that he gets interesting.  He’s always smoothly controlled, but add a little perversity into the mix and he becomes catnip for women. Take your pick: crazy, shrewd, mean or droll—when Olyphant pitches his character ever-so-slightly in any of these directions his sexiness factor goes way up.

Check out Season four of Justified on DVD.  It promises more of that excellent repartee between Olyphant and his next-doomed-significant-other.  The show has taken a turn towards Terantino-land–but the added shot of blood seems to suit Olyphant.

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6 Comments

  • Jenny Lyn (@JennyLynwrites)
    February 21, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Oh man, Justified is hands down one of the best shows on television and one of my all-time favorites! Tim is phenomenal, but the cast as a whole is what makes it really great. I do believe there are certain roles actors are just meant to play. Tim as Raylan is one. Walter Coggins as Boyd Crowder is another.

    I also loved Tim in Catch and Release. The scene where him and Jennifer Garner are lying in bed talking and he’s drawing the dragon on the back of her hand…total romance movie magic. 🙂

    • madelineiva
      February 21, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Jenny! Thanks for recommending Catch and Release. I haven’t seen that one. The acting in Justified is really top notch, all around. And I love the writing — those little phrases they use here and there just kill me. Boyd Crowder’s journey is Very interesting. They really amped up the father/son thing too, but also underplayed it at the same time…which really hooked me.
      Hey thanks for commenting. 🙂

  • Elizabeth Shore
    February 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I loved him in Deadwood! It was a show that, in my opinion, ended far too early. And Olymphant was a big part of the success. Great post!

  • ellaquinnauthor
    May 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Tweeted.

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