Why Mary Steenburgen Wanted To Do Justified

While its seasonal criminals come and go, Justified is good at keeping its most enjoyable side characters around. (Such as Wynn “My Eyebrows do Crossfit” Duffy.) One character who joined things late in the game is Mary Steenburgen’s Katherine Hale, who arrived in Season 5 as a mysterious widow seeking revenge. The character doesn’t have a lot in common with the majority of Steenburgen’s past roles, and that’s part of what drew her to it, along with the urge to give TV another smart Southerner.

Speaking with Vulture about her time on Justified, the Step Brothers actress shared how she came to the role.

When I asked [executive producer] Graham Yost why he thought of me – since a lot of times, people only see me as playing nice people – he said, ‘Because I thought you could handle the humor of it.’ I was honored, and I hope I’ve lived up to it.

Justified is definitely a richer show with her on it, allowing another strong-willed female to stand tall in this crime-stacked world. And even though the show takes place in Kentucky, Steenburgen fits in rather well. She’s an Arkansas native, and she hates seeing thinly-written Southern characters that rely solely on stereotypes.

I love that my character is Southern and lethally intelligent. She might make immoral choices, but she’s really smart. I’ve had battles with writers who live in L.A. and were writing Southern characters, because they felt like if they wrote “Sugar” and “Honey” at the end of every sentence, that would make it Southern. There are no worse clichés than Southern clichés. They make my skin crawl…These Southern characters are far more diverse and complex than most.

As a Louisiana native, I couldn’t agree with her more. Now y’all come binge drink some gumbo with me.

As if seeing her act opposite (Alabama-born) Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphant isn’t enough to make this final season of Justified worth the watch, Steenburgen also gets to carry on an old sexually active fling with a weed magnate – is that a thing? – played by the amazing Sam Elliott. Who doesn’t have a mustache here, which feels wrong. The two co-starred together in Did You Hear About the Morgans, but I think we can all agree this project is much more worthy of their combined presence.

As it starts to wrap things up, Justified will no doubt be leaving more bodies on the ground. While Raylan and Boyd are definitely in the crosshairs, it’s entirely in the air what will happen to Katherine Hale by the time the finale’s credits roll. Oddly enough, I’m not even sure what I want to happen. I just hope she gets to kick some ass before it ends.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.