' Amazing." Fans recall that Deadwood was summarily cancelled in season three, and Olyphant was left hanging.He immediately signed on – "for purely financial reasons", he says – to play the villain in Live Free or Die Hard and the hero in the ultraviolent superhero adaptation Hitman in rapid succession, a heady ascent into a world where he wasn't altogether comfortable."A nice place to grow up, suburban, but orchards and farmland all around us, still rural, quite a lot of shitkickers." Acting never came up."It's not the kind of dream people have in a small town like that.Everything is an opportunity to create – if we have a scene that very clearly needs to be shot outside with horses, and someone says we don't have the horses, his response is always, 'Perfect – I got it!' I mean, the show was supposed to be set in Rome, then Rome the TV show came along, and he's, 'OK, we'll do a western!"I always think of David Milch, his openness to the things around him, with that quote.
He walked in one morning to promote Deadwood, writer David Milch's savage and foul-mouthed reorientation of the classic TV western for HBO, and walked out having agreed to fill in for a while for an as-yet unhired presenter. "Yeah, I was sports – and David Lynch did weather." He's not kidding.I really took notice of him in The Girl Next Door, in which he plays porn starlet Elisah Cuthbert's pimp-manager-ex, a perfect balance of the charismatic and villainous sides of Olyphant, the million-dollar smile morphing into the menacing sneer.Soon thereafter, he was cast as complicated, compromised Sheriff Seth Bullock in Deadwood.Having fought desperately to get out of there, Givens is not too happy to be back.
"He's born one hundred years too late," says Olyphant of his character, whose headgear is much mocked by his fellow lawmen.
"I just remember thinking, 'Man, if [former Pistols guitarist] Steve Jones was here he'd start booing,' and I really, really wanted to do the booing for him.