Itâ€™s been a big summer for Walton Goggins. Aside from hitting the big screen this weekend with a memorable role in Cowboys & Aliens, the thoughtful, literate Southerner with the deep-set green eyes and electro-shock haircut picked up his first Emmy nomination for supporting actor on televisionâ€™s Justified, after not getting similarly deserved recognition in seven years on The Shield. In addition, he filmed a part in the independent drama Officer Down, has been promoting his work in Rod Lurieâ€™s Straw Dogs remake which is due in theaters Sept. 16, and has begun filming on Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg-directed biopic in which he has a key supporting role.
Movie Smackdown! editor Eric Estrin caught up with Goggins recently in the actorâ€™s Hollywood home and asked about the experience of filming an old-fashioned Western mashed up with an edgy, extra-terrestrial thriller.*
MS!: How was it doing Cowboys and Aliens?
WG: Oh, showing up at work, and Iâ€™d never met Harrison before, which is insane. Getting a knock on the trailer door and itâ€™s Harrison Ford saying, Do you want a ride home in my helicopter? I mean, come on. Who doesnâ€™t dream about that?
MS!: What was your role like in the film?
WG: Iâ€™m in Daniel Craigâ€™s gang, and Iâ€™m his biggest fan. Hopefully youâ€™ll laugh when you see it in the movie.
MS!: Did you guys do a lot of green screen?
WG: We did a decent amount, but not a lot. With technology now, they just frame it, and then they can paint anything they want to in the frame.Â I found myself reacting to a guy in a gray suit with a tennis ball on his head marked, â€œThe Alienâ€™s Face.â€ You want me to be scared of a Wilson tennis ball? But you do it.Â You live in your imagination.
MS!: Were you comfortable riding horses in the movie?
WG: (Laughs) Iâ€™m the asshole who said, Iâ€™m a pretty good rider. Iâ€™m a pretty good horseback rider.â€ And I am, I think. I thoughtâ€¦ until I get to that set, and literally my first day of working was riding a horse with Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde and everybody else behind me. And I get bucked off the horse. Four times. Four times. And theyâ€™re saying, Oh, wow, I thought you could ride, Goggins. Thought you knew how to ride a horse.
MS!: Why did that happen? Donâ€™t they train the horses?
WG: Yeah, donâ€™t they? I had a bad horse, man.
MS!: How did you work it out?
WG:Â I asked for a new horse after the fourth time. â€œExcuse me, I need his stand-in. I need this guyâ€™s stand-in.â€
MS!: Youâ€™ve had some great supporting roles. Who are the supporting actors youâ€™ve responded to as a fan?
WG: I love Warren Oates. I think Jack Nicholson was second fiddle early on, and you know, who doesnâ€™t fucking love him? John Cazaleâ€¦ Duvall was second fiddle for a long time.Â Most of my heroes — Chris Cooper is that guy. Ed Harris, Richard Jenkins — the list goes on and on.
MS!: Do you ever want to be a leading man?
WG: Yeah, I hope it happens for me. With the success of Jeremy Renner and Melissa Leo, there is beginning to be this resurgence of â€˜70s leading men and women.Â I hope I get my shot.
MS!: You donâ€™t have to look like George Clooney any more.
WG: No, and thatâ€™s good, â€˜cause thatâ€™s never gonna happen for me. Iâ€™m whatâ€™s known as a three-miler. I look good from certain angles at three miles away, but you never know what youâ€™re gonna get.
*Parts of this interview originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine.