Now Playing

Photography by Jack Guy/Corbis

Role Play

by Stephanie Davis Smith | The Atlantan magazine | November 16, 2012

Star of FX’s The Shield and Justified, Georgia’s own Walton Goggins leaves the small screen for two Civil War-era blockbusters­—Django Unchained and Lincoln. We catch up with the Lithia Springs native about famous co-stars, his type A personality and his A-list co-stars (paging Mr. DiCaprio).

What drew you to a bad-guy role like this one in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained?
For the longest time, I just went where the work was, but, in hindsight, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to play these nefarious characters. The challenge is to ground them and to mine their humor as much as their agony.

How funny are your Django co-stars (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx)?
I’ve been a fan of Jamie’s since the early ’90s. Still my best Halloween costume is Wanda Wayne [from In Living Color]! I knew Jamie to be a comic genius, but I was simultaneously taken with how deep he is. And Leo.... rarely have I seen such specificity in an actor. I was honored to have a front-row seat to his process. Two of the coolest dudes working today!

You go from bad guy in Django to good guy in Lincoln. Was that tough emotionally?
It was two completely different mindsets. One is on the right side of history, and the other is very much on the wrong side. For me, it’s a process of surrendering to the story. Both were equally challenging.

What has been your favorite role?
It’s hard to say. It took me a long time to get over not playing Shane Vendrell on The Shield anymore. I expect there will be equal grieving once Boyd Crowder [Justified] is no longer in my life.

You’ve played several guys in uniforms. Off screen, do you tend to take charge?
Yeah. I think the letter ‘A’ would come after ‘type’ and before ‘personality’ to describe me.

When you’re home in Lithia Springs and have extra time to kill, where do you like to go?
After hitting a couple of my favorite Mexican spots with my buddies, believe it or not, I like to drive out in the country. The only problem is, now you have to drive a lot farther to get to a road you can just get lost on.  

What else do you miss about the South?
Family, friends, fall and biscuits.