We are decades from the days when the first names in westerns were John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, whereas the current most definitive players, arguably, are Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins. The actors and real-life good friends may not have become as sought after for the genre if not for a little show called Justified.
Based on the short story “Fire in the Hole” by prolific crime writer Elmore Leonard and developed by Graham Yost, Justified follows U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) as he is reassigned to clean up any wrongdoings in his hometown in rural Kentucky, some of which are committed by his own friend, career criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). These two just might be the biggest names to come from the Emmy-winning FX series, but the additional careers the shows has propelled, or even reignited, should not go overlooked.
Timothy Olyphant (Raylan Givens)
Before playing a hardened lawman on western series Justified, Timothy Olyphant made waves playing a hardened lawman on western series Deadwood, both of which would eventually help him land a role as an actor playing a hardened lawman on western series Lancer in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. After the cancellation of Justified in 2015, Olyphant, who earned two Emmy nominations as Raylan Givens, continued to exercise his versatility, such as playing a fictionalized version of himself on courtroom sitcom The Grinder, as well as darker pieces like the 2019 feature-length Deadwood sequel, and even a combination of both, playing husband to an undead Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet.
In addition to his frequent appearances on his good friend Conan O’Brien’s talk show and raising three children with his wife of nearly three decades, the actor will star opposite Melissa McCarthy in the drama The Starling.
And in very recent news, Timothy Olyphant is reportedly set to appear in The Mandalorian Season 2.
Joelle Carter (Ava Crowder)
A prominent love interest for Raylan Givens was Ava Crowder, whose taste in men otherwise were questionable, particularly one we will get to soon. The one-time owner of the local bar and brothel Audrey’s was played by Joelle Carter, whose claim to fame before Justified was playing a one-time lover of Jason Biggs character in American Pie 2, but since the FX crime series came to an end, the 47-year-old actress has kept the trend of crime series in her career going strong, including Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, the legal spin-off to NBC’s Illinois-based franchise Chicago Justice, and Apple TV+ original Home Before Dark, in which she plays the school principal of a 9-year-old detective. Carter’s latest upcoming projects, unsurprisingly, two new crime thrillers (but feature-length this time), including The Big Ugly, with Ron Perlman and Malcolm McDowell, and Salvage, with Toby Kebbell and Jim Belushi.
Walton Goggins (Boyd Crowder)
Ava Crowder was once engaged to her late husband’s brother Boyd Crowder, an on-and-off friend to Raylan Givens due to his on-and-off criminal lifestyle played by Walton Goggins. Those who are unfamiliar with Justified may know the 48-year-old Academy Award-winner as “that one guy from The Hateful Eight” or “the bad guy from Ant-Man and the Wasp and Tomb Raider” or even as transgender prostitute Venus Van Dam on fellow FX series Sons of Anarchy, but his work in television comedies like Vice Principals, The Righteous Gemstones (both for HBO), or currently CBS’s The Unicorn (which he also produces) sees him pull off some of his most dazzling performances.
Walton Goggins is busier now than ever, acting in the recently wrapped upcoming teen drama Words on Bathroom Walls and preparing to voice a character on the animated superhero series Invincible, as well as bringing people “the Spirit of L.A.” in a bottle as a partner with Mulholland Distilling.
Erica Tazel (Rachel Brooks)
Serving as Deputy Marshal for Lexington Kentucky is Rachel Brooks, played by Erica Tazel, made brief appearances on a few other cult TV series, primarily Sex and the City, Jericho, and Firefly, before landing her starring role on Justified. Her career has since seen her in brief appearances in cult TV series in the making, such as The Orville, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Raising Dion on Netflix, as well as a few follow-ups to established pop culture landmarks, the reboot of classic miniseries Roots and a recurring role as a lawyer on The Good Fight, the CBS All Access exclusive continuation of long-running hit The Good Wife. The 2007 NAACP Theatre Award-winner will be reliving the onstage part of her life in 27-minute TV movie The Summer People, which is now in post-production.
Nick Searcy (Art Mullen)
The Chief Deputy US Marshal at Lexington is fellow Harlan County native Art Mullen, who is not the first nor last law enforcement officer Nick Searcy has played in his nearly 40-year career, as one of his first jobs after Justified’s 2015 finale was playing a cop on the final episode of Key & Peele and his most recent time donning the badge came in 2020 as a sheriff in Season 2 of Discovery Channel’s Manhunt, which focuses on Richard Jewell.
He took on a variety of roles on and off screen in between, such as starring in two 2018 Best Picture Oscar nominees (The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), playing real-life lawyer Mike Cohan in his second directorial effort Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, and guest-hosting The Rush Limbaugh Show in 2017. Searcy will be seen next in New Line’s remake of 2010 Korean thriller The Man from Nowhere and Dominican period drama Hotel Coppelia.
Jacob Pitts (Tim Gutterson)
Before starring on Justified as the Lexington Marshal Task Force resident sniper Tim Gutterons, Jacob Pitts led a versatile career that included the 2004 comedy EuroTrip to playing a first class private in HBO’s War World II-set miniseries The Pacific in 2010. It appears that he has made the decision to stick to more crime dramas since, as Elementary (the other modern-day Sherlock Holmes show), CBS’s series adaptation of Limitless, and the chilling anthology series The Sinner, among other thrillers of the like make up most of the more notable titles on his resume.
Pitts was most recently seen in a recurring role on Sneaky Pete, a clever Amazon original from co-creator Bryan Cranston and also features fellow Justified actress Margo Martindale, as a victim of sly trickery of Giovanni Ribisi’s “titular” character.
Natalie Zea (Winona Hawkins)
Another Justified alum with an exceptionally versatile career is Natalie Zea, star of daytime soap opera Passions and Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg cop comedy The Other Guys prior to playing Winona Hawkins, ex-wife of Raylan Givens and mother of his daughter, Willa (Eden Henderson). She has since has been blessed with roles of an even greater variety, most notably as a main character on the hit TBS family sitcom The Detour (which she took a crack at directing for two episodes), as well as recent guest spots on 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Unicorn, which saw her reunited with her Justified and The Shield co-star Walton Goggins.
Natalie Zea will be seen in more comedies on the big screen (coming of age film The F**k-It List and romantic thriller Happily alongside Joel McHale) and has been cast as the lead in the NBC natural disaster drama La Brea.
Damon Herriman (Dewey Crowe)
On Justified, Damon Herriman’s Dewey Crowe was a dim-witted, bumbling schemer who could barely even get his former fellow white supremacist Boyd Crowder on his side. However, he has since made a name for himself as the most sought-after to play a man infamous for getting people on his side: Charles Manson, whom he portrayed twice in 2019 alone, first in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood and on Netflix period crime drama Mindhunter. No word on any further portrayals of the notorious cult leader for the 50-year-old Australian actor, but he will be involved with another dark time in history starring in Barry Jenkins’ upcoming Amazon Prime original miniseries The Underground Railroad and voices a historical literary figure created by Beatrix Potter named Tom Kitten in Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which is expected to be released in January 2021.
Kaitlyn Dever (Loretta McCready)
Just a couple years after her debut playing a bully in an American Girl doll movie, Kaitlyn Dever’s bigger break was playing Loretta McCready, a troubled young woman who finds a reluctant father figure in Raylan Givens on Justified. Around the same time, she landed a starring role as Tim Allen’s youngest daughter on sitcom Last Man Standing and has since earned a reputation as one of Hollywood's most promising young actresses for playing a teen struggling to make an impact on her graduating class in Olivia Wilde’s high school hit comedy Booksmart and a teen struggling to prove her sexual assault case in the Netflix miniseries Unbelievable, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. The 23-year-old will star in two upcoming anthology series (B.J. Novak’s Platform and Hulu’s latest horror program Monsterland) and has been releasing music with her sister, Mady, as duo called Bealuahbelle.
The cast of Justified have turned out pretty well, haven’t they? Let us know what you think in the comments and be sure to check back for information and updates on the cast of the still beloved FX crime series as well as additional check-ins with the casts of your favorite movies and TV shows here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.