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.