This site loves many things, but it loves precious few things as much as it loves Walton Goggins, an actor who's spent the past decade-plus serving as the MVP of virtually every project he gets hired onto. Speaking as a gentleman of discerning tastes who has been firmly onboard the Goggins Train since 2004, when I began watching FX's The Shield, I have long dreamed of chatting with Goggins. Of interviewing Goggins. Of getting inside the mind of Goggins (I should not, however, want to cut into Goggins - to tear the flesh, to wear the flesh, to be born unto new worlds where Goggins' flesh becomes my key).
And so, when the chance to interview Goggins (in anticipation of his new role in Jon Avnet's Three Christs) came along, I leapt at the opportunity. What follows is a lightly-edited transcription of that chat, which follows in the grand tradition of my other recent Intimate Conversations with Rian Johnson and Jesse Eisenberg. Enjoy.
I usually like to start off with a low-key icebreaker, just to build up the rapport. So, what's your most incriminating or actionable secret?
Walton Goggins: "Incriminating or actionable secret"?
I can't tell you that, man! There's...like, legalities involved.
OK, well, we can remove "actionable" from the equation but I still need some dirt here, man. I gotta sell this thing.
Incriminating evidence...oh, god. Oh, god. Well, I spent 12 hours in jail?
Yeah, for drinking underage.
What were you drinking?
I think it must have been Two Fingers Tequila. And that's about as horrible and bad as you can get.
The brand is called Two Fingers?
Yeah, I don't know if it was specifically a southern thing, but if you sniffed it you got alcohol poisoning.
Jesus Christ. Okay.
I imagine the FDA has taken their license away by now.
You keep up with TV? Streaming stuff?
Y'know, when I have time I do. But I haven't had the time, to be quite honest with you, and I've been out of the country a lot over the past seven years. So I've missed a number of things.
Are you familiar with The Mandalorian?
I am familiar with The Mandalorian! I sat down to watch the first episode with my son the other night, and something else kinda came along and interrupted it, but we're gonna get to it! I know Pedro [Pascal, star of The Mandalorian] pretty well, and I can't wait to see it.
OK, well, I imagine you're also familiar with Baby Yoda, who appears on The Mandalorian, and my question to you is: who would win in a fight between Baby Yoda and Uncle Baby Billy from The Righteous Gemstones?
I don't know a lot about Baby Yoda beyond what I've heard other people talking about, but I'm gonna say Baby Yoda. I think there's something about Baby Yoda's mind control powers that Baby Billy would be susceptible to. He'd be susceptible to someone who works in retail, nevermind Baby Yoda. I think he would lose. Immediately.
What I was thinking was, Baby Yoda has Force powers.
Whereas Uncle Baby Billy has Jesus powers.
Well, if that's the angle you're taking then maybe it would be a draw.
I mean, they're both kinda pulling from the Force, if you will.
This is true.
And maybe they wouldn't even fight! Maybe they'd just look at each other and say, "Yeah, okay. I'll talk to you later."
Speaking of Righteous Gemstones, were you surprised by how thoroughly everyone melted down over "Misbehavin'"? That song was a huge deal!
Man, I was very surprised. I think we were all surprised! I don't think any of us had any idea people would have "Misbehavin'" on the brain like that. A big surprise, and a joy to watch unfold. [A friend] sent me something [online] the next morning, like, "Are you reading this?" I said, "What are you talking about?" And they said, "'Misbehavin'! Just look at the reaction it's getting." Who could have known that song would be, at least for a little bit, one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes? No one saw that coming.
You and I are speaking today because of a new film you have coming out called Three Christs. I have not seen Three Christs, but I looked up the synopsis on Wikipedia and was stunned to learn that it is not, in fact, a buddy comedy about three cloned Jesuses. Why isn't that what the movie is about?
Uh...why isn't it about three cloned Jesuses?
Yes. That's what I would assume based on the title. Three cloned Jesuses, they're living in an apartment together, dealing with the trials and tribulations of everyday life...
No, it isn't, but that would make a great television show, actually, and we did talk about that. That was a joke that Peter [Dinklage], Bradley [Whitford] and I had, about the Three Christs Detective Agency. We definitely pitched that to each other and we agreed it'd make for a great ongoing series.
In this scenario would the Jesuses be investigating crimes in modern times, or like during Biblical times?
Well, I think you could do it at any time! But our take on it was, it would be taking place in the modern day. It started with a fish tank, and communicating with fish.
So like maybe the Jesuses are communicating with fish who've witnessed a murder?
Yeah, maybe that was it. Why not? That's a great idea, you're gonna be in the writer's room on this one.
I'm into this. I am ready and available.
You seem like you'd be a perfect fit for the horror genre, and yet your filmography contains very few straight-up horror movies. I'm curious about that.
It's funny that you say that, man, because right now that is something I'm actively looking to do. I have not [done many horror movies], and House of 1,000 Corpses was twenty years ago. I'm looking for a very smart [project] within that genre, maybe even something bordering on the avant-garde. I really do want to do that!
This was a big year for full-frontal male nudity on HBO - even moreso than usual! - and you were at the epicenter of one of the more notable instances of that, with Righteous Gemstones.
So I'm wondering how you prepped for that, and if you have any thoughts on "dick acting"?
Well, for that, luckily we had a stand-in.
Yeah, he did all the preparation for me, but I was very happy with his performance.
Did you pick the guy? Like was there a line-up and you had to pick who would best represent you onscreen?
Y'know, I was not given permission to do that. No. That was not a rider in my contract. I put my faith into the Roughhouse boys and would have been okay with any result.
You have more confidence than I'd have. I would want final approval on something like this.
Yes. I can understand that.
You've played some of the most iconic TV characters of all time, some of them for years at a time, and I have to assume you're still living with some of those characters to some degree. Which ones do you find yourself thinking about the most?
Well, first of all, thank you for that compliment, that means a lot. They all come back and forth, but I do talk like them months before I start playing them - and I drive my family fuckin' bananas with that - and I'll talk like them for a long stretch afterwards. And then I'll go into any one of them on any given day, depending on the scenario, but the two that still bring a smile to my face are [Vice Principals'] Lee Russell and [Justified's] Boyd Crowder. I like to play Lee Russell and Boyd Crowder having an argument. It's pretty funny. I can't do it for you right now, but when I do it, that's a good day.
You strike me as the type of dude with sage wisdom to impart. A traveled guy. A learned guy. Lots of life experience under your belt and whatnot.
I like to think so.
OK, great, because I want to ask your advice on what to do about my neighbor, Kevin. He set my car on fire because I chased his kids out of my yard.
(long pause) Uh, this is a hypothetical or this actually happened?
No, this actually happened. Twice in the last month, actually.
Why did you chase his kids out of your yard?
Well, they were out there carrying on and causing a ruckus, with Wiffle ball bats and golf cleats.
Wiffle ball bats and golf cleats?
Yeah. I don't understand it, either. But I can't have that in my yard.
Yeah, okay. So do you live in Southern California?
No, I live in Austin, Texas.
You live in Austin, Texas - do you even have grass in your front yard?
We do. We got grass. We got the internet last week, too.
I haven't spent a lot of time in Austin, so I'm trying to think about what to do about front yards there. I think, man, honestly, this might be on you.
I mean, kids with wiffle ball bats and golf cleats - in any city - you should look at that as a privilege. Unless they're stepping on succulents that take too much time to grow. I think I'd let that one go.
Jon Avnet's Three Christs, starring Walton Goggins, arrives on January 10th.