Walton Goggins on Tarantino, Marilyn Manson and ‘Sons of Anarchy’
Do you remember the first time you met Quentin?
I remember, though I don’t think he does … this was long before he cast me in Django Unchained (2012). I had just done this movie The Apostle with Robert Duvall, and he invited me to this tango party at his house in Venice, California. Bobby is an incredible tango dancer; I, however, am not. So I’m just sitting by the snack table, watching all these people killing it on the dance floor, and in walks Quentin Tarantino. This was right before Jackie Brown had come out, and I was a huge fan, but these are the types of encounters I tend to run away from. But there’s eight people in a room, there’s one snack table, what can you do? You sit there with a cracker in your hand, watch Robert Duvall do the tango and pray you don’t say something fucking stupid!
And then he just walks up, casually says hello and strikes up a conversation. We had a lovely talk for a half hour, and I thought, “I didn’t embarrass myself!” Later, when I got invited to go do Django with him, I spent the whole night before just riddled with doubts about whether I could keep up. I don’t want to be the guy that drops the ball on a Tarantino film. And as soon as I got there, it just all went away. It was just like the party thing. His love and respect for actors is huge. And he is no bullshit. That man is precise. But he creates the conditions where you find yourself doing your best work. Better than your best.
What’s the secret to getting his dialogue right? You have to get that rhythm…
…Or it feels a little off, yeah. If Tim Roth were sitting here, he’d have used Mamet and Pinter as examples. Man, I wish I could answer that question. I don’t know that any of his usual collaborators who’ve been with him for years and years could answer it either; I don’t want to speak for them, but I feel like it’s either effortless or requires a lot of effort. He has a way of picking people who just get it. I’m not sure there’s a process — the words just fit in your mouth or they don’t. He’s been smart enough to find actors who can give him 90-percent or so of what he hears in his imagination.
Did it surprise you when he told New York magazine that “literally watching him for six years do faux-Quentin dialogue let me know that he’s got the right kind of tongue?”
No, because it’s the truth! [Laughs] I think he meant it as a compliment. You have to remember, Elmore Leonard didn’t write the Justified scripts; he just wrote the short story that the series is based on. So that meant our fearless leader Graham Yost and the writing staff had the impossible task of trying to replicate Leonard’s writing on a daily basis. And damned if they didn’t do it really well, and I think he recognized that — the task of trying to nail that voice. Which is similar to his.
I remember calling him when we shooting the filming the first episode of Season Five and telling him, “Every shot is pretty much in your vein. There are scenes between my character and Wynn Duffy (played by Jere Burns) that sound like John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson just shooting the shit!” [Laughs] I’m not saying we were at that level, but that’s what we were going for. And he respected it.
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