‘Justified’ Interview: David Meunier Talks Johnny Crowder, Season 4 and Who Might “Get Drew”
'Justified' fans well know that last week's "The Hatchet Tour" dropped a major spoiler on the show's fourth season, revealing the identity of the mysterious Drew Thompson and host of other revelations complicating the lives of the Harlan County players. David Meunier's Johnny Crowder in particular had a major wrench thrown into his plans to kill his cousin Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), but will Johnny have the last laugh? We spoke with Johnny Crowder himself, David Meunier for the inside scoop on what's to come for 'Justified' season 4!
Actor David Meunier's 'Justified' character Johnny Crowder may spend most of his time confined to his cousin Boyd's bar, and regretting his downfall within the family business, but that hasn't stopped the duplicitous character from making multiple power plays over the course of the current season, recruiting Dixie Mafia player Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) in a plot to kill Boyd Crowder, and assume the Harlan empire for himself.
With only three episodes left in the current season after tonight's "Get Drew," we had a chance to talk to Meunier about Johnny's plans for the season, especially his dormant love of Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), and who might come out on top this season as everyone from Boyd to Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) race to "Get Drew."
Last week's "The Hatchet Tour" dropped some major reveals, not only with regard to Sheriff Shelby's identity as Drew Thompson but also Johnny's initial cover of Colton's failure with Ellen May, so where does Johnny land in all this?
Johnny still has his plan in motion with Wynn Duffy at this point, so we'll see how far that gets along. He’s always had his plans with Wynn Duffy to eliminate Boyd and take over, and work with Duffy. Colton’s story is a bit of a tangent to help Johnny show his loyalties to Boyd, a preemptive saving face kind of thing. We'll see where it goes!
Speaking of Johnny's story with Colton, I couldn't help but notice Johnny kept quiet about the $20,000 he secretly blackmailed Colton for Ellen May, even after Colton's lie had been exposed to Boyd...
It's funny that you say that, because there was one version of that scene that we shot that Johnny does throw it into the conversation, while Boyd has Colton in the hot-seat. Johnny says, "what happened to that $20,000 I told you to leave in the shed at the baseball field?" That was in one version of that scene, but ultimately it didn’t make it for a good reason, because it’s really more about Colton’s guilt of failing his friend, and then Boyd's reaction to that. It does come back around though I believe, unless they’ve changed that as well, that $20,000 that Colt stole from the drug dealer does resurface.
Does Johnny have his own unique vision for how to run the Harlan criminal enterprise, or is he mostly interested in getting revenge on Boyd?
I think it’s a little bit of both. Certainly Johnny has a plan in his mind. Back in the day, he was running the business with Boyd's daddy, and when Uncle Bo went to prison, Johnny was the one in charge. Boyd was off blowing up buildings and running around with Neo-Nazis and doing whatever he was doing. Johnny was the guy in charge, and then Bo came back when he got released from jail, took the reigns back, and Johnny wanted to make his play, and then Boyd betrayed him. So Johnny’s definitely been there before, I think he just wants to get back to where he has been, and there's a little bit of that revenge from getting betrayed by Boyd in the first place.
Tell me about Johnny's relationship with Ava this year, given that we haven't spent much time with Johnny in the wake of Boyd and Ava's engagement.
You will get to see more of Johnny’s reaction to that in the coming episodes, there is some storyline with Johnny and Ava that unfolds. That’s also part of whether Johnny has a plan or if it's just about revenge. It's not just the way [Boyd] took the business away and got Johnny put into a wheelchair, he also took Ava. Johnny’s been in love with Ava since the beginning, so there’s a lot going on there, and then there's stuff that unfolds between Johnny and Ava in the upcoming episodes.
What's been the biggest challenge of playing Johnny Crowder this year?
This particular season, it's been fun to navigate the duplicitous nature of Johnny, which is getting to be one man when I'm talking to Boyd and Ava, and another man when I'm talking to Teri and needing information, or when I'm talking to Wynn Duffy. Also, the challenge therein lies in keeping all this story straight, and wearing the right face in the right situation. It’s the poker face, and having a different hand in every encounter.
Despite the lack of a central villain this season, what stars of the series have you wished you could work with more, given Johnny's limited mobility and interaction with the other characters of 'Justified'?
In the upcoming episodes I get to be in the vicinity of some of the other people that I don’t get to work with ever on the show. There's a whole group of people in the Marshal’s office whose lives and Johnny's have never crossed paths. I never get to work with Nick Searcy (Chief Deputy Art), and he’s just such a funny guy. I've been on set when he’s been doing his thing, and I see him at work, but we’ve never [crossed paths], and I know we won't this season.
I never get to work with Jacob Pitts (Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson), and even Raylan I wish I could have more involvement, but Raylan’s always on the move and going from place to place. Living in a little hole of a bar in Harlan has certainly kept me from dealing with a lot of people. I did get to interact with Wynn Duffy a lot this season, and that’s been a lot of fun.
Jere Burns is fantastic. I love the attention his reaction shots get from episode to episode.
Jere Burns is the master of reaction shots. One of my favorite moments this season so far is when the FBI agent gets shot in the face, and blood splatters all over the window, and Duffy's just sitting there. The truthful look on Jere’s face is classic.
Speaking of folk you don't get a chance to interact with, what was it like to say goodbye to Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry) without sharing any scenes with him this season?
I wish I would have had the opportunity to work with him one more time this season. I've worked with him in seasons past, and I was fortunate enough to be on set the couple of those days when he was working, so I did get to talk to him this season. But I’ve always enjoyed working with him. You know, he’s been in the business a long time, and he’s got quite a history in the theatre as well, so he has a plethora of really great stories.
Hes also a writer, and he’s performed his own works on stage, so he’s a great guy to talk to. I was reading an interview recently, someone had asked Graham Yost that, about how he missed that even Boyd and Arlo didn’t get to interact at all this season, just a thing that never came to pass. Arlo never made it out of jail. So, he will be missed.
Even being kept in the bar for much of the season, and given Johnny's limited mobility, what have you enjoyed being able to do this season?
Getting to hang out in Duffy’s motor coach, that was kind of fun. It's been nice for Johnny to have a life outside of the bar, particularly in the relationship with Teri, getting to see a different side of Johnny, and getting out of the chair and losing the cane, and out of my shirt, apparently. Socially, Johnny isn't a completely broken man. He does still function in the world, and so having a girlfriend was a nice addition to Johnny’s story. Of course, Tim playing Raylan always has a girlfriend in some fashion, so he’s the lucky one at the end of the day, but I do get to have a little bit of gunplay. Last week’s episode we got to drive around, the driving scenes between Walt and myself [were] a fun afternoon.
It feels like Johnny might be painting himself into a corner by the end of the season, so what can you tell us about the remaining episodes?
I don’t know if it’s a corner, so much I'm painting myself to the edge of a cliff! And I cant really say what happens with Johnny, but let's just say at the end of the season, things have not gone the way Johnny had hoped. And you can interpret that however you like.
For a series that doesn't feature as much action as other FX dramas, and even stepped away from its yearly villain mentality, why do you think 'Justified' succeeds as well as it does?
Everybody likes a Western and this definitely has the modern Western feel, but it’s the world of Elmore Leonard I think is what people are attracted to. In the world of 'Justified,' a character will walk into a bar and they’ll ask a question, and it'll take five minutes talking about three other things to then get back to the answer. A normal show would have taken five seconds, but we take five minutes and there's something fun about that. There's a lot of fun exchanges and dialogue and expressions, and I think that’s a hook for people. It’s a hook for me.
‘Justified’ season 4 premieres its tenth episode “Get Drew” tonight on FX, in which David Meunier's duplicitous Johnny Crowder makes yet another major power play against his brother Boyd (Walton Goggins)'s interests, one which could change the series at large. Check out what David had to say about a potential return for his character on NBC's 'Revolution,' check out a preview of 'Justified's' "Get Drew" below, and tune in to see David Meunier as Johnny Crowder in upcoming episodes of FX's 'Justified'!