Justified actor David Meunier recently opened up about his character Johnny Crowder and his Season 4 future with Harlan County cousin Boyd Crowder, played by Walton Goggins.
In an exclusive chat ahead of the Justified episode “The Bird Has Flown” on January 29, actor David Meunier talked about the latest developments with his character Johnny Crowder after he formed an unlikely alliance last week with Wynn Duffy of the Dixie Mafia in “Truth and Consequences”.
So, what could be in store for Johnny and Boyd as Season 4 continues? Well, if things turn out the way David Meunier hopes they will by the end of the season, the Justified drama could be pretty explosive between the two cousins.
One of many things we learned after our chat with Meunier, Johnny Crowder is definitely plotting against Boyd. How that will play out, we’ll all have to wait and see.
THE DEADBOLT: Given the nature of the show, are you surprised that Johnny’s survived this long?
DAVID MEUNIER: Well, it’s a surprise every day that I go to work that Johnny’s still alive, and continues to be alive, considering the path that he’s gone down this season and last season.
THE DEADBOLT: When playing a guy like Johnny Crowder, how do you balance understanding who he is and not judging him too much so that it gets in the way?
MEUNIER: I don’t judge any of the characters that I play. In my opinion, as soon as you do that you’re playing a character and not being true to the story that’s before you. You’re really just looking at an aspect that already exists in your own psyche, in my opinion, and bringing it to life through the character that you’re playing and through the words on the page. There’s no room for judgement. People can watch and judge Johnny however they wish.
As far as Johnny goes, he knows what he wants and he’s just doing it the best way he can. Sometimes the end justifies the means, for better or for worse. I just sort of check all that at the door.
THE DEADBOLT: Do you think it’s getting harder for Johnny to play all of the angles with Boyd?
MEUNIER: Yeah, I do. It’s interesting because the writers have been playing with that. I do think it’s getting more challenging. Not just for Johnny to figure out what angles or what plays he has left, but I think the only thing that allows Johnny a little wiggle room in the situation with Boyd is that they’re cousins.
I think if he was just a guy like Devil, a friend of Boyd’s, he would’ve squeezed me out and put me six feet under probably much sooner. But I think because we’re cousins there’s got to be a part of him that just doesn’t want to believe he’d be that way. And they haven’t told me how this is going to end either.
THE DEADBOLT: Do you think Johnny’s smart about getting revenge on Boyd, or not smart enough to know better?
MEUNIER: I think there’s something sort of animalistic about that that drives him. I don’t know that Johnny’s thought it through completely, I just think he believes what he wants. It’s been a picture that’s been in his mind for a long time. I mean, he’s been pining for Ava since high-school. That’s something we’ve been playing with since the very first season, that he was the one Crowder that’s trying to look out for her.
He knew Bo was coming to town and all of these things were happening. I’ve always been wanting to run off with the pretty blond, but I’m not getting that opportunity because Boyd comes in and takes her away. So there’s that part of the story.
Then there’s just the business part of being the heir apparent before Boyd took over. There’s a very specific picture in Johnny’s mind and I hope he’s really considered the ramifications or the details in getting there. I think he’s just sort of operating on auto-pilot a little bit.
THE DEADBOLT: Given the depth and quality of the show from week to week, do you sometimes say to yourself, “Okay, this is why I became an actor.” How do you see it?
MEUNIER: Yeah, I certainly have those moments when I go to work on this show. I’m lucky that I have those moments when I work on a lot of shows and the writing is really great. With this show, it certainly is. I always joke and ask, what other profession could you be a Russian mobster one morning and then go be a drug dealer out of your wheelchair the next afternoon? There’s no other job that allows you to do that. I love what I do. I get to go to work and play each day.
THE DEADBOLT: What type of input did you have this season on the direction of Johnny and where you wanted to see him go?
MEUNIER: It’s a very collaborative show, which is a good thing, starting with Tim Olyphant. He really puts his stamp on a lot of things. He’s an Elmore Leonard aficionado. He’s read everything and he really likes to mine the source material. We all get to collaborate but obviously there are limits. At the end of the day we need to film stuff and can’t have too many opinions and not get it done.
I had some ideas that I got to pitch to all of the writers and Graham Yost. They liked some of them and some they weren’t sure. I’ve sort of seen some of them come to fruition a little bit. It’s great. I get to bring some ideas. They also have bigger plans in mind and there are a lot of threads they’re weaving.
THE DEADBOLT: What’s been the biggest challenge for you this season as compared to the first three? Obviously Johnny’s up and walking again.
MEUNIER: Well, a lot of the changes have been fun. I think in being Johnny this season the biggest challenge is to really have that poker face. I haven’t had to do that in previous seasons. I mean, I’m making plans unbeknown to Boyd and yet he sits in front of Boyd each day. He looks at me and tells me something, or asks me something, and I’ve got all of this other stuff going on that I’m plotting against him.
I don’t know if I’d call it a challenge but it’s fun and certainly adds another layer that I haven’t gotten to explore in the first two seasons. It’s sort of coming to a head this season.
THE DEADBOLT: After what happened with Devil last season, do you think Wynn Duffy can truly trust Johnny?
MEUNIER: Yeah, that was an interesting one. I thought that was an interesting play. I’m not sure how that’s going to end. We’re sort of in the middle of figuring that one out right now. I don’t know. In some ways it makes sense because I don’t know what other options currently exist in the Justified universe. I don’t know what other options Johnny really has.
Again, I think it goes back to what I was saying earlier. Johnny has a very specific picture in his mind about his future and what it will look like come hell or high water. I don’t know if he’s thought through all of the possible ramifications of that or what it will look like when the pieces start to fall apart.
THE DEADBOLT: What can we expect from Johnny and Boyd as the season continues?
MEUNIER: Well, Johnny’s got his plan to take over and usurp Boyd. I’m hoping, although we haven’t gotten there yet, that there’s just a moment where Boyd and Johnny just lay it on the table and have that conversation or a fight, whatever it looks like.
Unlike any other two characters on the show, here’s two guys who have forty years of history. They’re cousins. They grew up playing football in the backyard with their daddies, their daddies’ daddies, and so on. So there’s a lot of history there. We played with that a little bit. I’ve gotten to tell some fun stories about the history between Johnny and Boyd.
But we haven’t gotten to where we’re actually going to land. I’m actually hoping that there’s a big blow-up. Not necessarily ending in a bad way or good way, but just to see these characters unlock all of their crap because they’ve been cousins their entire lives.
Justified airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on FX.
How do you want to see things go down between Johnny and Boyd this season?