Sam Elliott Spoke Out on How Incredible Cast of Modern Western ‘Justified’ Was

by John Jamison

From 2010 to 2015, “Justified” followed Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens in his pursuit of justice throughout eastern Kentucky. Acting icon Sam Elliott joined the show as a guest star for the entirety of its sixth season, and he had only nice things to say about the show’s cast.

While Elliott credited the entire cast, he raved specifically about character actor Walton Goggins. You may not know him by name, but there’s more than a decent chance you’d recognize his face if you saw him on the street.

“Walton Goggins, man – boy, what an actor,” Sam Elliott told NPR in 2017.

Goggins is one of the most versatile actors in the industry. One day, he’s playing the criminally inclined childhood friend of Raylan Givens in “Justified.” The next, he’s a hilariously wacky educator opposite Danny McBride in the HBO series “Vice Principals.” Perhaps it’s the versatility in Goggins that Sam Elliott respects so much. But however you slice it, both are extremely talented actors.

And not to take anything away from Elliott’s prowess as an actor. But for some obvious reasons, the baritone cowboy only plays characters within a specific range. Though in “Justified,” he had the opportunity to play an antagonist for his single-season arc.

The Avery Markham character he played saw him cross paths with Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens as a gangster. It was these clashes that gave Sam Elliott such a great impression of the show’s cast, among other interactions on the show.

“Everybody in that cast was just superlative, you know, and just so much fun to be with,” Elliott continued in his interview with NPR.

Sam Elliott’s Involvement with ‘Justified’ Lent the Show Even More Neo-Western Credibility

Some would like to believe that the Western genre of movies and especially TV is dead and gone. Those people have clearly never seen “Justified.” And we’d obviously be remiss if we failed to mention “Yellowstone” here. But for the sake of the subject matter and Sam Elliott, let’s focus on the hit FX show.

Granted, “Justified” ended in 2015, but it holds up against its fair share of classic Westerns. The show’s writers expertly navigated the modern setting. Coal country, gunslinging lawmen, and complex villains all combine. The result is a mix of insulated episode-to-episode stories with an overarching narrative, making for a compelling experience.

The addition of Sam Elliott to the show only helped its case in terms of genre. Beyond being a highly talented actor, Elliott is a holdover from the heyday of the TV Western. Among his credits are appearances on the iconic show “Gunsmoke,” three episodes on “Lancer,” and a series regular role on “The Yellow Rose.”

Sam Elliott has seen a ton throughout his generational career, so the words he had for the “Justified” cast carried all those extra years of weight.