Ranking the Appearances from Deadwood Actors in Justified

Our Justified Coverage
Ranking the Justified Seasons
Ranking the Justified Big Bads
Ranking the Appearances of Deadwood Actors On Justified
Top 11 Justified One-Off Appearances
The 10 Best Justified Supporting Characters

Beyond its star, Timothy Olyphant, Justified recognized what a fond idea it would be to cast so many actors from Deadwood. More films and television programs should do this. Here is how I rank their appearances on Justified.

10. Peter Jason – Owen Carnes (1 Episode)

Owen Carnes is an art collector about to go to prison and he has a large collection of fake Adolf Hitler paintings. (Early Justified monster of the week stories were utterly fascinating.) Meanwhile, his wife was setting him up with a corrupt art dealer and then had her horse trainer kill Owen Carnes. This all happened very, very fast and was just delightful. Con Stapleton was a great little garnish on Deadwood, and he did a nice little job here.


9. Ray McKinnon – Mr. Duke (1 Episode)

The great Ray McKinnon plays a hit man sent by Miami to kill Raylan Givens. He is really just a red herring though. He’s quickly killed off as a reveal that Brent Sexton’s Sheriff Hunter Mosley is the one who acting as a go-between for Miami to kill Raylan. McKinnon is great whenever he pops up, and he could have been put to better use here.


8. Sean Bridgers – Virgil Corum (1 episode)

Sean Bridgers brought his trademarked everyman quality that makse him instantly empathetic everywhere he pops up. It was yet another episode of the show that called into question of what is possibly the point of sending people to prison. It’s not the best episode of the show but Bridgers gets the job done as always.


7. Pruitt Taylor Vince – Glen Fogle (1 Episode)

Even when Pruitt Taylor Vince’s characters fully commit to being bad guys, he is able to convey a warmth that never makes his characters feel inhuman. It is what makes him such a valuable role player for television shows and why his run on Deadwood was so successful. They could have gotten more out of his pawn shop owner character on the show, but the one episode was good enough as is.


6. Gerald McRaney – Josiah Cairn (2 Episodes)

We get about one scene of just glorious dialogue between Seth Bullock and George Hearst here before McRaney gets his foot chopped off. It was a pretty funny casting decision to cast McRaney only to make him a helpless, wounded old man for the majority of his screen time. It does feel like a little bit of a waste though.


5. Garret Dillahunt – Ty Walker (8 Episodes)

Dillahunt shows up ahead of his big bad boss and starts to buy up property in order to begin fulfilling the plans of said big bad boss who wants to make all of the money. Yes, I am describing his introduction and plot role in both Deadwood season 2 and the final season of Justified. From there, his characters diverge quite a bit, of course. Despite the wealth of episodes he got to appear in, Dillahunt, beyond always being a welcome presence, really did not get to make a big impression on the show and really just served to take away steam from the bigger battles with Sam Elliott. He was fine, but the writing of him underdelivered.


4. Stephen Tobolowsky – FBI Agent Jerry Barkley (3 Episodes)

Tobolowsky is just a tremendous weasel, and he was a pitch-perfect selection to play the crooked FBI agent that helped Theo Tonin to stay out of trouble with the law. He also probably had the funniest death in the history of the show so that is always good.


3. Brent Sexton – Sheriff Hunter Mosley (5 Episodes)

Brent Sexton is really good at playing the well-meaning idiot who wants to be better than he is, but he is, alas, an idiot. He was sheriff who made deals with the wrong people and has cursed himself to a pathetic fate.


2. W. Earl Brown – Cal Wallace (1 episode)

The great W. Earl Brown showed up in this one episode and delivered one of the best performances on the entire run of the show. Probably the closest thing to an abolitionist message of the show happened here. As Cal Wallace proves the true and utter stupidity of the prison system. What possible good does it do to continue torturing Cal Wallace with mistreatment and imprisonment. Can we not imagine anything better? Is a better word not possible?


1. Jim Beaver – Sheriff Shelby/Drew Thompson (14 Episodes)

Jim Beaver is one of the great character actors going today, and Justified did a magnificent job of slowly developing his character here until his big role in season 4. The Drew Thompson story is one of the more rich and soulful parts of the show. Beaver managed to embody all the big ideas the show wanted to discuss throughout its run. The invisible line between cop and robber. The masks we wear can become permanent. And it is never too late to apologize or go down a different path.



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