Season 4 of Justified wraps up tonight (FX, 10 p.m. ET) with another tense hour. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) make their final plays to keep pregnant Winona (Natalie Zea) safe from Nicky Augustine (Mike O’Malley), and prevent Ava (Joelle Carter) from going to jail for Delroy’s murder. “I think she really feels responsibility for this situation because she’s the one who pulled the trigger and then didn’t potentially get rid of the body in the right way,” Carter says of Ava’s mindset. “She’s had help from other people, and it’s come back to bite her in the butt, so in this episode, by will and choice, she gets separated from the crew and has to take things on herself.”
Did Carter ever think Ava would kill Ellen May, for whom Ava shot and killed pimp Delroy last season? “I had a long talk with [showrunner] Graham Yost. I think at the time, they were writing the episode when Boyd was giving Ava all the alternative outs [for Ellen May]. And I said, ‘Are you guys grooming Ava to be the next Mags Bennett?’ I was hoping for it,” she says, laughing, “and Graham was like, ‘No! My Ava would never be the next Mags Bennett.’ That was an eye-opener for me. I thought it was going to be [like] Bonnie and Clyde. But it’s so much richer that she stays true to herself along this journey, even though she’s trying to be that outlaw also. It has to be her version of that.”
There was a time when the writers thought Boyd and Ava, who got engaged this season, would wed in the finale, but as Yost told EW in our postmortem of the penultimate episode, it’s just as well that it never quite worked out: Goggins has an idea for next season. “Walton has no secrets when it comes to his future ambitions for Boyd and Ava,” Carter says. “I think there’ll be some version of [his idea] and it’s quite wonderful.”
While we await season 4’s final hour (and then the show’s return in January 2014), we thought we’d borrow a page from Elmore Leonard and talk a little pop-culture with Carter to get to know her better.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When do you yell at the TV?
JOELLE CARTER: The Americans sometimes. I told Graham Yost [who’s also an exec producer on The Americans], “Make me a spy.” [Laughs] He never responded to that. I could change-up my whole look, and people wouldn’t even recognize me. I could be a redhead with a Farrah ‘do. Game of Thrones gets me to scream a lot. The Walking Dead used to get me quite a bit, and now I actually yell more because sometimes I’m not so satisfied with what the characters are doing. [Laughs] And if I get scared, I’ll yell really loud, and people do not like it because it scares the crap out of them. There was one moment in Paranormal Activity: The whole time I was going, “This isn’t scary, this isn’t scary,” and then I just let one rip when she gets pulled out of the bed. I was there with my husband and two of our best friends, and I just scared them all to death. They kinda banned me from watching horror films with them.
Name a TV moment that made you cry.
There have been many, but the first was the last episode M*A*S*H. I was so young, and I couldn’t believe that show was over. And Terms of Endearment — it was odd, but in college, I would watch it almost every weekend just for a good cry. I love the way [Debra Winger] can make you laugh and cry at the same time.
What was the last TV show you marathoned?
I started binging on House of Cards, but I didn’t get all the way through. I do have 2-year-old, so my binges are smaller. I guess Game of Thrones might have been the last one, because when I started it, I ended it within two or three days. My husband was out-of-town, and he’s like, “What are you doing up this late?” I was like, “I can’t talk. I’m watching Game of Thrones.” And now, when I get a chance, I’m binging on The Shield, so Walton’s not allowed to talk to me about it. He’ll start talking about it, and I’m like, “Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh. I’m not there yet. Just don’t saying anything!”
What TV show do you find yourself watching again and again with your 2-year-old?
Dora the Explorer.
I have a 2-year-old nephew and 4-year-old niece. Do you know Diego’s Rescue Pack song?
[Sings in unison] “Rescue Pack… coming to the rescue.” [Laughs] And The Wonder Pets!, too. If I can think a second, I can sing the whole song for you. “We’re not too big…”
Name a movie you saw too young, and it scarred you.
Jaws. I was a swimmer, and I tell you, I think I picked up my time quite a bit. When I hit the deep end, I would just not breath. I’d just swim, flip, and get out of there. I don’t think I took a bath for a couple of weeks. [Laughs] It was just showers.
Is there a piece of pop-culture memorabilia from your childhood that you lost and wish you still had?
When I first hit New York, I always missed famous people. I’d be walking down the street with friends, and they’d be like, “Did you see so-and-so?” and I’d be like, “No! I didn’t see them! Why didn’t you tell me?!” It happened one day, I was maybe 19, and it was Steve Martin. My friend was like, “Did you see Steve Martin?” And I’m like, “Shut up! That wasn’t Steve Martin.” So I chased him, and he turned around, and we’re standing there, and he goes, “Hello, girls.” I can’t remember what I said, something stupid like, “I loved you in Parenthood.” And he goes, “Oh, thank you. I don’t want to be recognized. So I’m just gonna give you guys these, and I’m gonna head off.” It was a little card that said something like, “This certifies that you’ve met Steve Martin and found him charming, witty, handsome, intelligent, blah, blah, blah.” And I did lose that card. That crushes me.
I’ve always heard about those cards, but I’ve never met anyone who’s gotten one.
I did, and I don’t have it. It’s sad.
The most played song on your iPod?
The guiltiest song on your iPod?
Something by Bon Jovi. I love Bon Jovi.
Did you write a fan letter to anyone when you were young?
I didn’t. If I could’ve written a fan letter, and it wasn’t to Bon Jovi [Laughs], it would have been Rick Springfield. And that is an embarrassing thing to admit.
Name a song you wish you’d written.
[Laughs] I love Barbra Streisand when she sings “The Way We Were.” That actually always makes me cry. I would love to have written that song.
Have you ever teared up at a concert?
Bette Midler. I cried when she started singing, “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” Beaches, that’s another movie. [Laughs] Yeah, I cry a lot.