Olyphant back with a badge

With his TV series "Justified" set to debut Tuesday on FX and his movie "The Crazies" out in theaters, Timothy Olyphant can't remember the last time he has been so busy.

Not that the 1986 Beyer High grad is complaining.

"It's been great," he said in a phone interview. "It's been a ton of work. Luckily, I really love my job."

As he did in his HBO series "Deadwood," Olyphant plays law enforcement officers in both new projects.

"If you're my age and you work in Hollywood, you're bound to play some cops," he said. "Five out of 10 TV shows are about cops."

In "Justified," Olyphant plays Raylan Givens, a hot-tempered U.S. marshal who has been kicked out of a post in Miami for a shooting incident and relocated to his hometown in Kentucky, where his criminal father still lives.

The show is inspired by books from Elmore Leonard and has the same darkly humorous tone as his previous works like "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight," Olyphant said.

The tag line in show promos refers to Olyphant's character: "In a lawless town where crime is a tradition, his justice will be done."

Speaking in a video interview posted on FX's Web site, Leonard said: "I think 'Justified' brings the Western up to date."

For "The Crazies," Olyphant plays Sheriff David Dutton, struggling to keep order in a small Iowa town where residents have become deranged from drinking contaminated water.

The film is a remake of a 1973 movie of the same name by George Romero ("Night of the Living Dead").

Olyphant said he hadn't seen the original but he has long respected Romero.

"I'm not sure if I ever remember watching his movies, but I'm so aware of them because they are a complete part of our culture," he said. "His movies were really quite socially conscious. He was tapped into something other than just zombies taking people out. The 'Living Dead' pictures were about social consumerism, 'The Crazies' was about the Vietnam War."

Olyphant is happy with the way the movie turned out.

"I'm very proud of the work we did," he said. "I really did enjoy it. I stand by it. There were things I would have liked to push further or gone more for, but having known what we were dealing and what we're up against, I think we did well."

Olyphant loves that as an adult, he is basically able to continue the cops-and-robbers games he played as a child. But having recently wrapped filming the first season of "Justified," he is also happy to go back to other pursuits. When asked what's next for him, he responded, 'gardening.'

"I'm weeding right now as we speak," he said.

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