As a longtime fan of the show, and possessive of a childlike sense of excitement and imagination, Michael Rapaport has enthusiastically embraced his stint on the southern drama ‘Justified.’
“At the end of the day, I think it’s a world that’s a modern day Western. From a time when you were a little kid, it’s like cowboys, and good guys versus bad guys, and I think that it’s really relatable,” said Rapaport directly to TVRage during a conference call last week. The 44-year-old actor has taken up the role as the Season 5 antagonist on the Kentucky-set series, playing opposite good guy Timothy Olyphant, and well, beloved bad guy though sometimes good guy Walton Goggins.
“I think the backdrop of Harlan, obviously it’s a heightened world that the ‘Justified’ people live in, but it’s just sort of a heightened fantasy world of good versus evil and cops and robbers,” added Rapaport. “I think it’s like good versus evil, but then the lines are skewed.”
Across this season, which is nearing its thrilling conclusion (giving way to a Season 6, the last for the successful FX drama), Rapaport has portrayed Daryl Crowe Jr., a Florida-based alligator farm operator and drug trafficker. He is joining an impressive list of other actors who have taken on the role of ‘Justified’ villain, including Margo Martindale, Mykelti Williamson, and Neal McDonough and has loved going toe-to-toe with our hero and anti-hero.
“When you’re playing this bad of a character, it’s obviously not reality for someone who’s not living that life. So that’s been the most fun -- it’s been one of the more fun jobs that I’ve had in a long time as an actor,” Rapaport told reporters. “To be able to play somebody that says and does pretty much whatever he wants…he’s manipulative and I think he’s very self-serving, although I don’t think he’s aware of it. It’s just been a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s been like venting. You scream and yell. You punch people. You smack people and all that stuff. So it’s fun to do.”
Daryl, like many other outlaws on the show before him, is ambitious, confident, but maybe a bit in over his head. At around 6’4,” Rapaport is an imposing presence, staring down at U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, among others, but probably thinks he’s smarter than he actually is.
As interested and intent as Rapaport was on joining the cast and doing his part across a season, it certainly hasn’t been the simplest of roles for a born and raised New Yorker to portray a backwoods redneck criminal.
“It hasn’t been that easy to get into,” Rapaport told TVRage. The actor not only had to work vigorously at a southern accent, but adhere to a demanding shoot schedule and encounter alligators for the first time. It’s also a bit of a dark world too.
“It was easy to get out of because you’re so in it for the time when you’re shooting that by the time you’re done,” he continued. “I know that some of the other actors talk about it. Walton, I know. By the time the season’s over, you don’t want nothing to do with it because it’s very intense. Those guys are intense, and I mean that in a good way, and you push yourself; they push you and the writing pushes you.”
Still, Rapaport is proud of his run and the work that he has done, growing as an actor and making his mark on the hit series. “It was a lot of work. It was a lot of time. I feel like I did a good job and I’m proud of it and it was a great opportunity to do something a little bit different for me.”
Rapaport has completed the shooting for the season, and gave the vaguest of teases going away. “I think there are a lot of big twists and turns at the end that are going to be, I would say, kind of shocking. There are a couple of scenes that are like crazy.”
Season 5 of ‘Justified’ continues Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.