Known for his rugged U.S. Marshal character on Justified, the human husband of a zombie wife in Santa Clarita Diet, his hilariously unruffled sofa chats on Conan, and an undisclosed role in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming flick, Timothy Olyphant seems to subscribe to a more evolved “Lebowski”-esque philosophy, still appreciating his success in Hollywood, but also carrying a Zen-like serenity and awareness of what really matters.
Timothy Olyphant’s casting in Beef was announced in 2017, a dark comedy adapted from a Blacklist screenplay from writer Jeff Lock. Those initial reports also said John Stalberg Jr. is directing the film, but his name isn’t listed on Beef’s page. It’s possible that Stalberg Jr. just hasn’t been added yet to the movie’s iMDB, or it might also be he is no longer part of the project and now the movie is in limbo. But when I ask Olyphant about his announced role in the film, he doesn’t seem to know what I am talking about.
“You’re slated to play a character named Brian Gill, at least according to iMDB,” I say. “Oh really? That’s exciting,” Olyphant says in an utmost, nonchalant manner. I laugh and reply, “It looks really interesting so I hope you’ll be good in it, if you do star in it.” “Really? Who’s in it? Who’s directing it?” Olyphant says excitedly. I tell him there’s no director but it’s been written by Jeff Lock, and I also offer to read him a synopsis of the movie. “Yeah let’s make this happen right now. Who’s Jeff, what’s his name?” Olyphant asks. “Jeff Lock,” I reply. “I’m looking him up,” Olyphant says, as I hear his fingers typing away with intent on the other end of the phone.
“Dude, all that comes up, oh here, Jeff Lock, iMDB, editorial department, hold on a second, we’re checking him out. Is this who he is?” Olyphant asks before continuing his research. “Looks like he was in the editing…he was a post-production assistant on Damages, I was in that show. I don’t know man. He wrote a movie called Beef? Are we talking about the same guy?”
“Yeah,” I reply, and then hear two clicks from Olyphant’s computer. “Oh, there you go! Oh, I know that guy! Yep, I know that guy! I don’t think that’s going to happen.” I tell him they have a movie poster for it and everything. “He might have made it without me.” I then mention how the author Tom Wolfe died the other day, and back in the 1970s there was a screenwriter who attached Wolfe’s name to his own screenplay just for more prestige, and mention a similar thing might be happening to Olyphant. “That’s an interesting theory Justin, very interesting theory. Look, it’s not the first time I’ve been associated with a movie that I’ll never fucking be in. But, you know, it’s nice to be thought of.”
My theory about Lock adding Olyphant’s name just for extra prestige is most likely not true, as Lock has a solid list of credits on shows like Boardwalk Empire and House of Cards and the fact his screenplay made it to the prestigious Blacklist probably speaks for itself. But I ask Olyphant what he does in a situation like this, if he has to contact iMDB or if it’s not a big deal. “No, what difference does it make?” he says and laughs.
Much of our conversation prior to the faux Beef interlude has been immensely casual, with Olyphant clearly showing no desire to go on a bullshit tangent or offer phony talking points like other celebrities that are copied and pasted for every other publication. He isn’t acting rebellious or trying to give an anarchistic middle finger to Hollywood, he honestly just appears to be cool, calm and at peace. I wonder if this chill attitude is because of his recent successes, like starring in the Netflix comedy Santa Clarita Diet, or his recently announced role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I ask Olyphant with all this good news if he ever thinks to himself: “Is this really happening to me?” His answer is pretty definitive.
“No, I do not question it, I enjoy it. I just enjoy it.” Olyphant says. I ask if it still feels like he’s the same guy from 10 years ago prior to all of this recent success that’s come his way.
“Yeah,” he confirms. “That’s the best part, that’s the part I enjoy the most. It all feels pretty normal.” I try asking about his announced role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino’s movie set in 1960s LA during the Charles Manson murders. He isn’t able to reveal any details, so I tell him that people are really excited for him to star in this movie, and I read him a comment from a Deadline article, where one person said, “But with [Olyphant], maybe we’ll actually get one of the first QT characters since Travolta in Pulp Fiction that is an actual human being and that we care about.”
“Oh well, I’ll take your word for it and I appreciate it, I’m sure if you keep reading the comments you’ll see someone say something negative so I wouldn’t get too invested in that.”
One topic that frequently circles around Olyphant is his almost-casting in what would become The Fast and the Furious. Olyphant turned down the role of Dom Toretto, which went to Vin Diesel with the car-racing series becoming one of the most profitable franchises in the entertainment industry. Another common Olyphant talking point is his time as a collegiate swimmer at USC. The actor originally wanted to study Architecture but it didn’t work out with his swim schedule, so he studied Fine Arts instead. If Olyphant starred in The Fast and the Furious or if he ended up majoring in Architecture, he might not be where he is today, so I ask him how much he thinks happenstance might have impacted his career.
“Now we’re getting deep,” Olyphant jokes. “I have no fucking idea man, I have no idea. You know, this is the way life works. Just the way it works. If I took a minute to look back, every now and then I just got lucky, sometimes you pass on something, sometimes you just bomb the audition, and every now and then it works out. I have no idea, but it’s all been pretty fun.”
I ask what goals Olyphant might still have as an actor. “I tend to think more about the things I don’t want to do. Lately, career goals haven’t been on my mind much. I tend to think more about what I want to do when I’m not working. I’ve been pretty lucky, I found myself a pretty steady gig here with Santa Clarita Diet, I’m enjoying it. The Quentin thing is a bit of a dream come true. I’m good, you know, I don’t find myself thinking too much about what’s next.”
He continues in his casual, wholly sincere manner. “I still just love the job, I feel pretty lucky.”
Photographer: Jonny Marlow
Stylist: Annie Jagger
Grooming: KC Fee at The Wall Group
Using Tom Ford
Writer: Justin Sedgwick
Location: LONO Hollywood