Timothy Olyphant

Adept at both comedy and intense, dramatic action, Timothy Olyphant was an eclectic but appealing presence in two highly-regarded series - "Deadwood" (HBO, 2004-06) and "Justified" (FX, 2010-15) - and an inveterate scene-stealer in films and series like "Go" (1999), "Damages" (FX Network/Audience Network, 2007-2012) and "Live Free or Die Hard" (2007). Born Timothy David Olyphant on May 20, 1968 in Honolulu, Hawaii, he moved with his family - Gallo wine executive J.V. Bevan Olyphant, his wife, Katherine and two brothers - to Modesto, California when he was two years of age. There, he nurtured an interest in competitive swimming at Fred C. Beyer High School, and considered a career in art. Olyphant was recruited to the University of Southern California by its swimming coach, but upon discovering that he would be unable to swim and pursue his chosen major- architecture - he chose to earn his degree in fine arts. Upon graduating in 1990, he married his college sweetheart, Alexis Knief, and the pair relocated to New York, where Olyphant dabbled in coaching and stand-up comedy before abandoning fine art in favor of an acting career. After completing a two-year course of study at the William Esper Studio, he began landing minor roles on television series and in features like "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) and "Scream 2" (1997). His first break came as a drug-dealing anti-hero in Doug Liman's edgy comedy-drama "Go" (1999), which in turn led to an offer from its producer, Mickey Liddell, to star in "The Broken Hearts Club" (2000), a romantic comedy about gay men in West Hollywood, California. Response to the film set the template for much of Olyphant's film output in the next few years: Olyphant's slyly bemused performances was, more often than not, the sole bright spot in indie and studio efforts like "Auggie Rose" (2000); "Gone in Sixty Seconds" (2000), with Nicolas Cage; "Head Over Heels" (2001); "Rock Star" (2001) with Mark Wahlberg, and "The Girl Next Door" (2004). That same year, Olyphant received one of his best showcases in "Deadwood," producer David Milch's proudly profane and intricately plotted Western series about the lives of real and imagined individuals in the notorious titular South Dakota mining camp. Olyphant played Seth Bullock, the hot-tempered but law-abiding camp sheriff, whose notions of right and wrong often ran afoul of Ian McShane's Machiavellian saloonkeeper, Al Swearengen. A critical favorite for Milch's ornate dialogue and cast of accomplished players, "Deadwood" was only a modest ratings hit, and the cost of maintaining an entire town set led to its untimely demise after two seasons. But even with the abbreviated run, the attention afforded by critics and industry figures to "Deadwood" helped to boost Olyphant's profile from comic support to dramatic lead and co-lead, which in turn led to major roles in a slew of motion pictures. The most successful of these was undoubtedly "Live Free or Die Hard" (2007), whch cast him as a cyber-terrorist pitted against Bruce Willis' reluctant hero, but as before, Olyphant was the most notable element of films like "Hitman" (2007), which afforded him a rare lead; "The Perfect Getaway" (2009); "The Crazies" (2010) and "Elektra Luxx" (2010). Olyphant was soon back on television, where he played Rose Byrne's highly suspect boyfriend in the second season of "Damages," and a brief run as a handsome paper salesman on several episodes of "The Office" (NBC, 2005-2013). His performance on "Damages" led to network chief John Landgraf offering him the lead on "Justified," a crime thriller based on Elmore Leonard's stories about a flinty U.S. Marshal. The series helped to do what "Deadwood" had promised - to provide Olyphant with a long-running and high-quality showcase for his talents, which earned a Emmy nomination in 2011. When "Justified" ran its course after five seasons, Olyphant bounced between comic and dramatic efforts: the former included an amusing turn as a vain, fictionalized version of himself on "The Grinder" (Fox, 2015-16) and a series lead in the Netflix dark comedy "The Santa Clarita Diet" (2017-19), with Olyphant as a suburban husband attempting to contend with his wife (Drew Barrymore), who has transformed into a cannibalistic zombie. In 2019, long-standing rumors of a "Deadwood" revival finally materialized as a two-hour TV-movie for HBO, with Olyphant reprising his role as an older, slightly less irascible Bullock.