With the third season of F/X’s electrifying Justified having hurtled to a gun-blazing close, the time has come for us all to contemplate the barren, Timothy Olyphant-less wasteland that is television without new episodes of Justified. Luckily for us all, no one that charismatic, talented and utterly, confoundingly captivating onscreen could possibly have remained in complete obscurity before donning his now signature hat and gun belt; as an actor, he is a man with a complicated past, much like his Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens, and there is much in his resume that is worthy of your time. But if repeated viewings of Deadwood’s three brutal seasons, his arc in Damages or that one episode of Sex and the City aren’t your thing (and you find his work as a serial killer in Scream 2, as a vengeful mercenary in Live Free or Die Hard, or just anywhere near 2001’s horrible Freddie Prinze Jr. vehicle Head Over Heels just a little too upsetting) then why not soothe your pain by settling down to an indie movie trifecta of Olyphant deliciousness, where love’s the central theme?
The Broken Hearts Club (2000)
Here Olyphant plays Dennis, a waiter and would-be photographer living in LA alongside best-friends Cole (Dean Cain), Benji (Zach Braff), Patrick (Ben Weber), Howie (Matt McGrath), and Taylor (Bill Porter). Turning 28, Dennis is ready to make a life change, which is when the young and naïve Kevin (Andrew Keegan) enters his world. While teaching Kevin how to navigate the murky waters of West Hollywood, and while his friends deal with drugs, hookups, breakups, and their struggling careers, Dennis decides he needs to become a better man before he’s ready to let Kevin into his heart… Yes, he’s gay. Indeed, pretty much everyone in this movie is gay, including practically the only two women we get to meet—one of whom is In Plain Sight’s ever-awesome Mary McCormack. No, wait, there is another woman: Jennifer Coolidge as the boys’ disinterested hairdresser, but otherwise, yeah, gay. It’s a terrific romantic comedy, full of beautiful men, witty dialogue and even the odd moment of profundity. Look out for appearances from Dawson’s Creek/Life, Unexpected’s Kerr Smith and Angel/Leverage’s Christian Kane.
Catch and Release (2006)
This film opens on the day of a funeral, whereat we meet Grey (Jennifer Garner), who’s fiancé recently died in a freak canoeing accident. Olyphant plays Fritz, a successful director who is the kind of guy who would – and does – have sex with the caterer at his best friend’s wake: no favorite with the straight-laced Grey. But when startling revelations make her question everything she thought she knew about her past, Grey begins to look toward a different future, with a very different man. Featuring director Kevin Smith in a surprisingly riveting turn as the bluff, sensitive Sam, alongside Juliette Lewis typecast as her usual slightly-sleazy ditz, this is a glossy, clever, big-hearted gem of a movie, with a wonderful cast and – of perhaps less importance but still noteworthy – an outstanding soundtrack. Garner and Olyphant have an undeniable chemistry, and Sam’s job as the person who comes up with the quotes on the Celestial Seasonings herbal tea boxes can only make one wonder: who does come up with the quotes on the Celestial Seasonings tea boxes?
Elektra Luxx (2010)
The latest entry is also the one offering up the least Olyphant screen time, with his carefree, tousled PI – rejoicing in the unlikely name of Dellwood Butterworth – only in evidence for about ten percent of the movie or so. But limited as it is, his turn as love interest to Carla Gugino’s eponymous reformed porn star remains eminently compelling, and the movie as a whole is an entertaining, intriguing black comedy dealing with the nature of love and sex in an industry that both celebrates and cynically manipulates them. By turns funny, poignant and bizarre, this movie is one of the undiscovered gems of 2010 and well worth your time, especially with an occasionally-unclothed Timothy Olyphant in the mix; of particular note is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an online porn historian filled with… um… adoration for the all-natural charms of our heroine.
Other suggested Olyphant experiences: Go (1999), opposite Katie Holmes; Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), opposite Nic Cage and Angelina Jolie; Coastlines (2002), opposite Josh Brolin and Sarah Wynter (not the world’s greatest movie, but he is great in it); and the stellar action adventure romp that is Hitman (2007). Avoid: Meet Bill (2007), opposite Elizabeth Banks and Aaron Eckhart; Stop-Loss (2008), opposite Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (an excellent movie, but so very upsetting; damn war); I Am Number Four (2011), opposite Alex Pettyfer; and what the hell was he doing in The Girl Next Door?
A Boyd Crowder fan? Well, for you there’s always a viewing of 1998’s Major League: Back to the Minors, in which plays a young and cocky minor league batter with a slightly menacing way about him. And, hey! Who else is excited about G. I. Joe: Retaliation, out this June?
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.