Conference Call Interview With Michael Rapaport On Justified

Michael Rapaport Justified Conference Call Interview With Michael Rapaport On Justified

One of the prime highlights of the fifth and final season of Justified, and there have been no shortage of them, has been Michael Rapaport’s turn as the manipulative (and alligator breeding) Darryl Crowe Jr. Not only has the accomplished actor has proved to be one of the FX show’s most compelling big bads, but he’s also given us further proof that movie scene-stealers have been allowed to shine more fully on the small screen.

Recently, we had the chance to participate in a conference call interview with the actor to discuss his hit TV show. Among other things, he spoke about what lies ahead for his character, the joys and challenges of working on the hit series and more.

Check it out below, and enjoy!

Darryl is much more intelligent and much more ambitious than a lot of the other characters give him credit for. But by that same token, I think the other members of his family are holding him back a little bit. Do you think Darryl truly realizes how detrimental they are to his goals, or is he just turning a blind eye to it because they’re family?

Michael Rapaport: I think that he’s turning a blind eye to them because they’re family. I think in his head he thinks he’s doing the best thing for his family. He’s running the family and he has taken on this responsibility. So I think in his head he thinks he’s doing the best thing for everybody, but as the season keeps going on we’ll see how that plays out.

But it’s definitely been a lot of fun, and I think there are a lot of big twists and turns at the end that are going to be, I would say, kind of shocking. There are a couple of scenes that are like, really crazy.

One of the things that I’ve really been enjoying as the past few episodes have gone by is watching you play against Walton Goggins as Boyd, and it occurred to me that it feels like your character is in a similar position to him. As the season progresses, your back continues to get up against the wall. So could you tell me a little bit about what it’s like playing against Walton, and have you guys had any discussions about these characters kind of paralleling each other in any way?

MR: Well, yes, we did have a couple of discussions about it. Walton is honestly one of the best actors I’ve ever had a chance to work with. It’s been a real pleasure working with him, and him and Tim’s insistence and persistence on pushing the envelope, not just for them but for the show and for all the other actors, has been a real pleasure and just a real—it’s just been a lot of fun.

It’s been challenging and creative. Those guys, they’re just really good, and they really care about what they’re doing. It pays off in the end result, but they really are team players and very welcoming and encouraging for everybody to do good.

And as far as the characters, yes, we’ve talked about it a little bit. Obviously Boyd is the most fleshed out of all of the bad guys, and I think he’s very humanized. So he’s really a bad guy that you could get behind in the character. He just brings a lot of color to the character.

I think there was a scene that was in a recent episode—yes, we did talk about that. Darryl wants the same thing Boyd wants. They’re both criminals, and at the end of the day they’re just trying to find their way and make their way. So that’s definitely something we talk about.

So what’s it been like playing this guy? As a viewer, I can’t help but to like him even though he’s supposed to be a criminal. What about you?

MR: It’s been fun. It’s been one of the more fun jobs that I’ve had in a long time as an actor. To be able to play somebody that says and does pretty much whatever he wants, he’s manipulative and I think he’s very self-serving, although I don’t think he’s aware of it. It’s just been a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s been like venting. You go. You scream and yell. You punch people. You smack people and all that stuff. So it’s fun to do.

The body count has been growing all season long on Justified, and this season isn’t over yet but the writing could be on the wall for Darryl. Do you have any concern about that? Did you want this role to be a more than one-season thing or did you have in the back of your mind, “Oh well, if something happens to Darryl by the end of the season I’m cool with it.”

MR: Yes, I was totally cool with it, and I know that I had to accept my fate going into it. I know that a character like this is living on the edge. So it’s really week-to-week. You didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t really know what was going to happen until we finished shooting.

You don’t really get a heads up, but I knew that the way that he’s behaving and the fact that I’m a bad guy stepping into a world of other bad guys that there was a risk to take, but I didn’t have any problems with it because it’s just been fun while it’s lasted.

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Michael Rapaport and Timothy Olyphant in Justified Season 5 Episode 6 0 Conference Call Interview With Michael Rapaport On Justified

What drives you as an actor today?

MR: Part of it is the same in terms of you just want to do the best you can do. It sounds sort of cliché. You just want to do a great job every time you get in front of a camera, every time you’re in a scene.

But as you get older and do more work, you want to try to variate yourself and you want to try to different things and bring different colors. I think about more stuff than I did when I was younger, in terms of a performance. And I’m more, as an actor on film or digital these days, whether its TV or actually movies, aware of the technical aspect of that acting, where the camera is, sort of pacing yourself to sort of create a performance and color a performance using the camera.

So I’m more aware of that and I’m conscious of that, but at the end of the day my sole goal, when I go into any scene, is to try to be as honest as I possibly can, and then everything else is second. But the most important thing for me is to just be as honest as I possibly can.

In this performance, the accent was important, but at the end of the day the honesty and the believability has always been my main goal as an actor. That’s always my first thing, just to be as real as possible.

I wanted to talk about the great scene with the United Nations. I was wondering, could you sort of tell me about it because as a fan when I saw Raylan and Miller walk in the room and you had all these guys in one room together, I had to pause it because I was so excited. So just sort of tell me about filming that.

MR: It was a lot of fun. Everybody was aware of the amount of talent in the room and the body of work of the collective group of people. We were all sort of very excited to work with each other. I’ve been friends with and a fan of Wood Harris for a while and Steve Harris, and then of course, Eric Roberts has done some of the most great work in films. He’s had a handful of really, really, really special performances. So we were all excited to work with him.

It was a fun day. It was an intense day. It was a lot of people and a lot of opinions, but I think everybody was really excited to be working with each other, especially all in one bowl of soup. So it was fun. It was a good time.

What were the kind of discussions that were going on? Was there anything that you wanted to add to the scene?

MR: For me, I was just trying to find a time to do a monologue from The Pope of Greenwich Village for Eric Roberts, which I never got around to.

There were a lot of pictures being taken, too. Everybody was taking pictures of each other because everybody was kind of like, “Oh, …, I’m a fan of yours.” It was just kind of like a fun environment.

The episode ends with Darryl essentially telling Wendy that he wants to kill Boyd, Picker and Wynn to take over the heroin trade. Then we see Dewey running off with the truck. What can you sort of tease about Darryl’s next move when he finds out that Dewey is gone?

Mr: Darryl is not playing around. I can just say this, he’s not playing around. He’s not taking any [unintelligible] prisoners going forward. He’s getting more and more impatient as things go along. So the best I can tell you is that Darryl Crowe Jr. is definitely coming in—he’s ready to get what he wants to get.

Everybody talks about how wonderful the writing is on Justified, and I think that’s what draws us all to the show. 

MR: It’s a lot of fun to get the scripts and to read them. One of the things about the show is that it’ll have long, four, five, six-page scenes and they’re almost like a play within the episode. It’s not something that you get to do a lot on television.

And to be honest, it’s not something you get to do a lot in film, just have a scene, have a beginning, middle and end without a lot of exposition. And I think that the writers do a really good job of when there is exposition they color it to the characters and they try to make it a little bit more specific, as opposed to just sort of giving information to the audience and trying to fill in the blanks.

So it’s really fun and exciting, and I think it keeps you on your toes. Every time you get a script, you look forward to opening it up and starting it, whereas sometimes that’s not the case with other shows.

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Michael Rapaport and Alicia Witt in Justified A Murder of Crowes 539x360 Conference Call Interview With Michael Rapaport On Justified

What do you think it is that makes this show so popular?

MR: I think the thing that makes the show so popular first comes from the writing and the world that’s set up, and then I think it’s the actors and I think it’s Tim and Walton. I think they’ve just created really, really fun characters. I think it’s like good versus evil, but then the lines are skewed.

And at the end of the day, I think it’s a world that’s a modern day Western. From a time when you were a little kid it’s like cowboys and good guys versus bad guys, and I think that it’s really relatable. And I think the backdrop of Harlan, obviously it’s a heightened world that the Justified people live in, but it’s just sort of a heightened fantasy world of good versus evil and cops and robbers.

To what extent was it easy or difficult to get into this character and this world, and how easy or difficult was it to get out of?

MR: It hasn’t been that easy to get into. It was easy to get out of because you’re so in it for the time when you’re shooting that by the time you’re done you don’t want anything to do with it because it’s very intense. Those guys are intense, and I mean that in a good way, and you push yourself; they push you and the writing pushes you.

But Tim and Walton really set the tone of, I think, excellence. They’re both great. I hope that they get Emmy nominations and win them. They both deserve them, and I think it’d be a little overdue. I think that they’ve done as good of work as anything that’s been on television in the last five or six years.

Getting back to Justified, some of the scenes that I’m really liking best this season are between you and Alicia Witt. Talk about her and talk about that work. It’s really, I think, been just—I think she lends something to the show that maybe we haven’t seen quite so much, a certain sort of delicacy in a way.

MR: I have to say that I’ve been enormously impressed with Alicia’s work and her intensity, and you’ll see in the last few episodes what I mean. She’s done some incredible work. We’ve had some days that couldn’t have been more intense, coming up in these last few episodes, and they’ve been a pleasure and very impressive.

She really gives the show some special talents and skills, as the episodes go along. There are some scenes towards the end of the season that are just great, and working with her she was just really special, special work.

And also Jacob Lofland, I think he’s really shown something too. He plays Kendal.

Michael: He’s been great. He’s a really sweet kid. He’s a young kid. He’s from Arkansas and we’ve had a lot of fun with him. He’s another really good talent.

Edit Gathegi Michael Rapaport and Walton Goggins in Justified Season 5 episode 51 Conference Call Interview With Michael Rapaport On Justified

I know you’ve done a lot of work, both on the TV side of things, as well as in films and even some voiceover work for some video games and some animated stuff. Do you prefer working on TV where you have more time to develop a character or do you like going in and just doing kind of a one-and-done sort of thing?

MR: I think that it’s just a matter of job to job. Each environment is different. Each job is different and each realm of creativity that they give you is different. You try to do the best you can and put as much time into it as you can, but different jobs, different circumstances come about.

Sometimes you know about a job four months in advance. Sometimes you know about a job four days in advance. So it’s all different, and my thing is I just try to stay prepared. It’s like a boxer; you never know when you’re going to get your next fight so you have to just stay in shape mentally and physically and creatively.

You mentioned earlier that you were a fan of Justified before coming into the show. Are there other shows that you’re a fan of that you would like to work on sometime in the future?

MR: Right now, let me see, well, I was obviously a big fan of Breaking Bad. Everybody was into that. I’ve been enjoying True Detective. To be honest with you, right now, I’m probably forgetting some stuff, but to be really honest with you the thing that I get the most joy out of on television, besides sports, is, for better or for worse, a lot of Bravo television.

It’s shameful, but sometimes I watch those episodes of television and I’m like, “That was a really good hour of television.” I know, I know it doesn’t sound highbrow and geeky and all that. But all these television critics and stuff like that, you can sit down and watch a couple of hours of some good reality television and it’s as entertaining as anything that they have on cable, HBO, Showtime or anything. I promise you.

You’re not watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians are you?

MR: I don’t watch Kardashians. I’m more of a Real Housewives guy.

Setting aside Justified, what would you say is your favorite project that you’ve worked on over the years that didn’t get the love that you thought it deserved?

MR: I would probably say I did a movie called Special that I wish had gotten better distribution. It’s an independent movie that I’m very proud of that people see on Netflix and iTunes and such.

I really did enjoy working on the TV show The War at Home. I thought that was a really good show, and I thought that we didn’t really get a fair shot at making a sort of traditional, family-style, raunchy television show. That was disappointing that it ended shortly.

What’s been your favorite moment between Darryl and Boyd?

MR: My favorite moment between Darryl and Boyd was probably the first scene when we met in the bar. That was probably my favorite. It was a really long scene. It had ebbs and flows and twists and turns. I’m a real fan of Walton, and he’s just really a perfectionist. I can’t say enough about him. He really just is a very intense, really pushing himself and pushing everybody else. He’s very encouraging of all the other actors around him and just a real team player and a really inspiring actor to work with.

I’m really enjoying Darryl, and I was wondering, we haven’t addressed this one specific thing and that is, as probably the most interesting villain since Mags Bennett back in Season 2, Darryl is a pretty strange cat. So I was wondering what did you find was the key that made him click for you, that made you say, “Oh yeah, I got this guy.”

MR: A lot of it is in the writing. I think the thing that made it click for me is the idea of him thinking that he’s taking care of his family and that everything he’s doing is in the best interest of his family. He says that a lot, but I think his actions, especially as we get towards the end of the season, don’t really live up to that. But I think family and him thinking that he’s taking care of his family is the main thing.

That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Michael very much for his time. Be sure to catch Michael on Justified every Tuesday on FX.

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  • Bhammer100

    I would have liked to see if he reads any reviews online and what he thinks about all the negative reaction attributed to him. I, personally, don’t see what people are complaining about. I have been enjoying his performance.