EXCLUSIVE: Interview With DJANGO UNCHAINED And JUSTIFIED Star Walton Goggins
Best known for starring in the likes of Justified and The Shield, Walton Goggins takes on perhaps his most villainous turn yet as 'Billy Crash' in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. Hit the jump to read our lengthy interview with the actor!
Last year, I had the opportunity to speak with Walton Goggins about his time working on Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. With the film now set to be released in the UK on Friday, I'm finally able to bring you my interview with the critically acclaimed actor who has built up a huge fan base thanks to his now iconic roles in the likes of Justified and The Shield as 'Boyd Crowder' and 'Detective Shane Vendrell' respectively. As 'Billy Crash', he takes on perhaps the most vile character of his career. Below, Goggins talks about his experiences on the set of Django Unchained, the fourth season of Justified, his ideas for a "dark" romantic comedy and a whole lot more. I can't begin to express what an absolute pleasure it was to speak to him, and while our conversation only lasted around 10 minutes, he was an absolute delight and a genuinely very interesting and likeable guy. Oh, and be warned as there are some SPOILERS AHEAD for Django Unchained!
Hi, great to hear from you.
Oh, nice to hear from you as well!
I’m a big fan so it’s a real pleasure to get the opportunity to speak to you today.
Thank you so much for saying that man, I really appreciate it. It’s been quite a journey [Laughs]. I’m ready for a romantic comedy.
That would be interesting, although with your track record of playing villains...
[Laughs] That’s right man! We’ll have a very dark romantic comedy. Maybe it’s a guy who gets a girl, ties her up and then they fall in love in a room and...he lets her go! That’s a hit!
I think Quentin would be interested in that. You’ve definitely got to have a word with him!
Yes! I’m gonna leave this conversation and pitch it to him!
Fantastic. Well, I’d like to start off by talking about Django with you. Could you maybe start by telling our readers about your character in the film?
I play ‘Billy Crash’, who is Calvin Candie’s mandingo fight trainer extraordinaire. He is a person responsible for enforcing the nature of the slave establishment. He has a vested interest in keeping things the way that they are. He works alongside Sam Jackson’s character who is inside the house, so they’re the number two and number three people on the plantation. Most actors in this situation would try to pitch the redeeming qualities of the character they’re portraying and I would do that nine times out of ten too, but not in this case. I celebrated just as much as the audience when Billy Crash died.
Billy Crash’s death and another scene you share with Jamie Foxx are both very intense. What did you do to prepare for those and what were they like for you to film?
You know, you just kind of turn yourself over to your imagination and know that you’re getting to go to work every day with one of the pillars of cinema; Quentin Tarantino. And you’re working with Jamie Foxx! You turn yourself over to this imaginary set of circumstances and you go there emotionally and try to be as truthful as you possibly can be. Out of that truth sometimes comes horrible things and sometimes horribly funny things. I tried to do that. To think what it would mean to Django and the story when Billy Crash is killed in the end. It’s one of those characters, like a number of characters in Quentin Tarantino’s movies that had it coming from the moment they got on screen and it’s just such a delicious opportunity.
How were your experiences working with Quentin?
His enthusiasm and his passion, regardless of his brilliance, is so infectious. It’s like, that’s enough to galvanise feelings within a person to do something or go somewhere they’ve never been before. Then you add to that the brilliance of him as an auteur and you just know that you’re going to be transported to a place you’ve never been before. It’s so much bigger than any one person with an experience like this. Quentin’s only made eight movies. There have only been those actors in those eight movies that have gotten to experience what I got to experience making this movie. You feel like you’re a part of a very special club.
What was it like for you to work with actors like Leonardo DoCaprio, Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz. Was that a good experience?
Whenever asked this question in an interview, people say: ‘Oh my God, they were incredible!’ And people mean it when they say it! I guess I’m just reiterating by regurgitating your question in an answer before I answer it so that I can impress upon you how sincerely blown away I was by these actors and what they did and to have a front row seat! There’s another scene that’s not in the movie between Leonardo and I that is so wonderful, it’s so nuanced and so beautiful, and to see what Leonardo did in all of these scenes…to see him take this vile, petulant little adolescent arrested state of development human being and to have that kind of specificity and fun with it was just so fucking inspiring. It was just so inspiring. To meet Jamie and to have been a fan of his for as long as I have and to see the way he works. And Sam Jackson man! Sam’s one of my heroes. Sam’s been a hero of mine since forever, since ‘Do The Right Thing’. This is a journeyman. This is an actor’s actor. To see him go where he went to with affecting this voice and this walk and his appearance. When I first met Sam on the set, he came up to me and said, ‘Hey man, I’m a fan’. Sam is so generous that way. They’re all generous. But this was my first day being there and I was just taking it all in and then this older black gentleman came up and said, ‘I’m a really, really big fan,’ and I said, ‘Oh, well thank you very much, I really appreciate that.’ And he said, ‘Walt. It’s Sam!’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, your name is Sam? Well, it’s nice to meet you Sam.’ He’s like, ‘JACKSON’. Get the fuck outta here man! I had no idea it was him and he was like a foot away from me. I had no idea that was Sam Jackson. I just thought it was this really, really kind African American gentleman in his eighties who was just coming up and saying hello. I was like, ‘Oh wow, you like Justified?’ It’s like, ‘No mothefucker, that’s Sam Jackson!’ It was unbelievable. I literally almost passed out. I could not believe that that was him.
It sounds like there was a great atmosphere on set, but you were working with some very sensitive material. What was that like?
I have to say that Quentin is an actor and he has such great respect for the craft and he loves actors. He loves them. He was extremely sensitive obviously about this material and what that would mean participating in those scenes regardless of colour mind you. Both sides. He went out of his way to remind us at times that this is a movie, we’re making a movie, and it’s ok. Everybody’s ok. He would play music, he was jovial and laughing and serious when he needed to be serious. But he really kind of made up for with levity all of the horrors that were going on at the time. And Jamie did the same thing. Jamie was a real leader on set and in a moment to make everybody laugh during one of the most uncomfortable things that we were doing in a day and I think that speaks to the pros that these people are.
Were there a lot of challenges that came with preparing for your particular role in the movie?
There really was a lot and I didn’t have a lot of time. When Ace Woody was combined with Billy Crash, we had already started filming. I was already Billy Crash 1.0 before this great fortune had come my way and again, while some of it’s not in the movie, it had gotten to the point where I needed to be Django’s equal. I needed to be a real force for him to overcome. And in a 72 hour period, I had been watching Jamie the whole time and watching his movements and the way he held his gun, what his show was and what his game was as a gunslinger. I wanted mine to be very different from his. I started working with our tech advisor who was just an extraordinary man and I just worked non-stop all day, every day just pulling, just working with it, just getting to the place where it was going back in the holster without looking. Feeling how it came out of the holster, feeling how it felt in the hand. It was a lot of work. It was a lot of blisters! A sore ass from riding on that horse and it was hot man, the elements in New Orleans are unforgiving. The heat can be unforgiving, the mosquitos can be unforgiving and the snakes can be unforgiving. It was a tough physical shoot but you know, all that being said, these are high class problems and at the end of the day you’re telling a story that you hope people like and you feel is important.
I’m a huge fan of Justified, so can you give us an idea of what to expect from season four?
I can tell you that there is going to be a consolidation of power and that Boyd Crowder is going to wind up on top for a while. His love affair with Ava will grow deeper and his friendship with Raylan will be splintered in a way that may be irreparable. How about that? Oh, I’m getting the signal! I gotta go, but it sure was a pleasure to talk to you buddy!
It was fantastic to speak to you. I’m a huge fan going back through all of your stuff. The film is fantastic, I think you’re brilliant in it and it’s been a real pleasure to talk to you.
Thank you so, so much man. Have a great day.
Set in the South two years before the Civil War, "Django Unchained" stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.
Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival...
Jamie Foxx as Django
Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie
Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz
Kerry Washington as Broomhilda
Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen
Laura Cayouette as Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly
Dennis Christopher as Leonide Moguy
Don Johnson as Spencer 'Big Daddy' Bennett
M.C. Gainey as Big John Brittle
Tom Savini as Tracker Cheney
Anthony LaPaglia as Jano
James Remar as Ace Speck
Walton Goggins as Billy Crash
Tom Wopat as Marshall Gill Tatum
Misty Upham as Minnie
RELEASE DATE: 25th December, 2012 (US) January 18th, 2013 (UK)
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