TV.com Q&A: Deadwood's Timothy Olyphant

Timothy Olyphant has played several memorable characters over the course of his acting career, such as a pill-pushing drug dealer in Doug Limon's Go, a porn-peddler in The Girl Next Door, and a rock guitarist in Rock Star. But to television junkies, he'll always be remembered as Seth Bullock, the tough-as-nails protagonist from HBO's Deadwood.

Of course, the popular Western rode off into the sunset after production costs proved too mighty, thus reducing the instances of "****sucker" uttered on television by about 99 percent. Olyphant didn't stop playing badasses, though, as evidenced by his turn as a villain in Live Free or Die Hard and his upcoming role as the very bald and very lethal Agent 47 in this November's Hitman.

TV.com caught up with Olyphant on his press binge for the movie (which is based on the popular third-person assassination video games from Io Interactive) to talk about his role, the acting process, and more. We even asked him a bit about Deadwood, but not too much...he is the world's deadliest killer, after all.

TV.com: Thanks for talking with us, Timothy. Has it been a long morning already?

Timothy Olyphant: It's been all right. Somebody wanted me to sign a Deadwood picture for them. And we didn't have any Deadwood pictures. So I'm drawing a moustache and a cowboy hat on my Hitman picture [laugh].

TV.com: I think you're going to have to put a lot more hair on him [laughs]. So what attracted you to the role of Agent 47 in Hitman?

Timothy Olyphant: The script was really compelling and interesting. I thought it was a terrific opportunity. On one hand it felt like we had this great source material to kind of respect and pay tribute to. And at the same time it didn't feel like we were a slave to something that didn't allow us to really tell a story, make a movie.

TV.com: So was this a more strict adaptation with the methodology of that game? Or is it kind of using the game like a guideline basically?

Timothy Olyphant: You know, I [only] have a general sense of the game. So it's hard for me to answer that question--if you tell me certain things about the game, I can tell you what we accomplished and didn't accomplish. You know what I mean?

TV.com: Sure. Does the movie spend a lot of time on Agent 47's five "fathers" and the genetic engineering storyline from the game?

Timothy Olyphant: We only touched upon that. In the movie you know that you're dealing with a guy who was basically engineered, born and bred to be this killing machine. You have a sense of this history and his childhood and that kind of thing.

TV.com: Because he's genetically engineered and kind of dehumanized as a character, was it hard to try and find the human in there? Did you have certain characters in other movies that you were looking at to kind of get inspiration?

Timothy Olyphant: That was the coolest part of it. That's the fun part of the job--finding the humanity of it all. You are who you know, what you do. Your actions kind of make you who you are. And the fact is we're going to kill a lot of people in this movie, and that makes me a killer.

TV.com: How was working with director Xavier Gens?

Timothy Olyphant: He was great. On one hand he was a real cinematographer and was really adept with the camera and knew how to make a beautiful shot. But he was very thoughtful. He was also a real fan of the video game. Huge fan of the video game.

So I felt like I had a great guy to work with in the sense that you know it's the combination of the understanding of the game, but at the same time a great understanding of cinema and film. You felt like he was just the perfect guy for the job.

TV.com: Hitman was filmed all over the world. Did this kind of separate you from the studio, getting too involved or toning down the violence at all, or anything like that?

Timothy Olyphant: Well I don't want to berate, as if the studio getting involved is a bad thing. Because at times I have to say, they sometimes are the smartest people in the room. But at times it really did feel like we're making this sort of Sergio Leone movie. We're making what felt like a very American film, but we were off in the middle of nowhere so to speak, with a French director, and bringing these sort of European sensibilities to it. And it was really a great sort of combination.

TV.com: I see that you're a big Kevin Smith fan. Any chance we're going to see you in any of his movies anytime soon?

Timothy Olyphant: You'd have to ask Kevin [laughs]. I mean you'd think this guy would throw me a bone.

TV.com: I hate to bring this up, but is there any chance we'll be seeing Seth Bullock and Deadwood again?

Timothy Olyphant: I remain doubtful. But you never know.

TV.com: Any talk since the cancellation of John from Cincinnati?

Timothy Olyphant: I've heard none. It was really an amazing experience [being on Deadwood]. Really wonderful.

TV.com: Have you spoken to the rest of the cast about doing a Deadwood movie?

Timothy Olyphant: Oh I haven't spoken to any of them about that.

TV.com: Back to Hitman, was there any trepidation about doing it because of the apparent video-game-to-movie curse?

Timothy Olyphant: You know if there was any in the beginning, it came before reading the script. And meeting with Xavier and then getting a better understanding of this particular game...once those were all done, it just got more and more exciting.

TV.com: How long did you prepare for the role?

Timothy Olyphant: I only had a few weeks. I'd say about six weeks before we started shooting.

TV.com: Wow! That's not a lot of time. Did you have like a specific exercise routine you were going through?

Timothy Olyphant: It was great, you know? That's one of the cool things about the job is to be able to go and do these kind of things that you normally don't--it's part of your normal day. I enjoyed it. I haven't gotten in that good a shape in years [laughs]. You know there's nothing like getting paid to work out.

TV.com: Yeah, that's a good reason to be an action hero in a big movie.

Timothy Olyphant: Yeah, exactly. I had no complaints. It was a terrific experience all around.

TV.com: Well thank you very much for your time.

Comments (9)
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He ABSOLUTELY sucked in Die Hard. Then again, so did everyone else. Here's hoping.
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I don't think you'll have to worry guys. Any Deadwood fan would tell you Tim will pull Agent 47 off perfectly.
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Nothing about his side splitting role on My Name Is Earl.
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I'm not saying he's not capable, or doesn't have the range. Maybe he'll be an excellent 47. Personally I don't understand why they couldn't use the actor who does his voice in the games, who, by the looks of it, was probably used as the model for 47 - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0061055/.

That being said, I was extremely relieved to hear that Vin Diesel, who was originally supposed to play the part, was replaced.
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I think that prejudging a persons fit for a movie role, especially when no one else has ever played the character, is unfair. The fact is that a lot of us have opinions of who we think would be good in a role based on our preconceived ideas of the character. I truly enjoy the "Hitman Games", and when I heard Timothy Olyphant was going to star as the lead character the only thing I thought of was, "Wow what is he going too look like bald", but other than that nothing else. Watching him on "Deadwood" as Seth Bullock I have no doubt he'll do just fine. Timothy Olyphant is a fine actor and having seen several of his other roles in movies, and the diverse characters he has played shows his range as an actor. I for one look forward to his performance, and the movie in general. The only time I have doubt about a movie based on the lead character choice is if the actor is so far and away different from the type of character needed to play the part. For example, hypothetically speaking that is, choosing let's say "Ashton Kutcher" as "Superman". Obviously that's based on the type actor he is, and his range so he wouldn't be a good choice whatsoever. But Timothy Olyphant has the range, and the ability for the lead in "Hitman". That's my thoughts and opinion so we can agree or agree to disagree. Take care.



Peace To All.
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The movie is somewhat of a prequel to the games, that explains why 47 is so young. If the movie turns out to be great we could see some type of 20 years later type of deal and have a new actor take the role. It's unlikely to happen, but these days you just never really know.
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As much as I'm happy that Vin "look at me, I'm a tough guy" Diesel didn't get to be 47, I don't think Timothy Olyphant looks the part.
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I thought Vin Diesel or Jason Statham would have been a better choice...
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I'm still kinda surprised Agent 47 isn't being played by Jason Satham, but it sounds like Seth... I mean, Timothy, is gonna be great. I'm still not over them cancelling Deadwood, either.
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