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As the new baddies on FX’s Justified, Neal McDonough and Mykelti Williamson have some big shoes to fill – those of Margot Martindale, whose dastardly Mags Bennett offed herself in the second season finale.
“The first time I showed up on the set I was extremely nervous,” said Williamson at the show’s press tour session on Sunday. “There’s a lot to live up to.”
McDonough, who has four children under the age of six, admitted that he hadn’t followed the first two seasons of the show.
“It’s Teletubbies, Sesame Street and once in a while I’ll sneak in some ESPN,” said McDonough. “When [executive producer] Graham Yost asked me to be a villain on the show last year, I purposely didn’t watch what [Martindale] did last year because I didn’t want to get nervous. Then last week I watched all the episodes and now I’m extremely nervous.”
McDonough (Desperate Housewives) and Williamson (24) both worked with Yost on his critically hailed but quickly canceled NBC series Boomtown. In Justified, McDonough plays a slick Detroit gangster who attempts to bring organized crime to Kentucky and quickly clashes with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). And Williamson plays a Harlan County local trying to cultivate his own patch of turf, by any means necessary.
Yost is philosophical about the death of Mags, though he admits it wasn’t exactly a difficult decision.
“We can’t just accumulate bad guys and have them all sitting around in a room together like teachers on probation in New York,” said Yost, referring to the New York City school’s so-called “rubber rooms.”
“I don’t regret that we killed Mags,” he added. “I do regret not having Margot around. She’s just a great person and a great friend and has a great attitude and really got a kick out of the part.”
The part also earned Martindale last year’s Emmy for supporting actress in a drama. These days, she’s starring on the CBS drama A Gifted Man, which is on the bubble for a second-season pickup.
But Yost still gets to see Martindale every time he turns on his computer. Apparently, Gifted Man executive producer Sarah Timberman, who was an ep on Justified, sent Yost a picture of Martindale that Yost now uses as his wallpaper on his computer. Said Yost: “It’s Margot giving me the finger.”
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