Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched last night’s Justified, stop reading now. Earlier today, we visited Kevin Rankin on the New York set of his regular gig, the CBS Poppy Montgomery procedural Unforgettable, to talk about Devil’s fate.
Like the song says, you’ll never leave Harlan alive, and Rankin wouldn’t have had it any other way. “Everyone involved [with Justified] is so on the same frequency, that I think that we all understood the poetic justice of Boyd taking Devil out,” he says. Because two of Unforgettable‘s producers also work on Justified, they were able to orchestrate Rankin’s schedule so he could fly between coasts to simultaneously film the freshman cop drama — hence the shirt and tie in our video interview from his dressing room — and wrap up Devil’s arc in a memorable, meaningful way. Below, he talks about the physical toll filming Devil’s final moments took on him, as well as about taking a frying pan in the face from Joelle Carter’s Ava in the season premiere. (We had to ask.)
If Rankin has any regrets about his Justified exit, it’s that he won’t get to play with Damon Herriman (Dewey Crowe) and Jeremy Davies (Dickie Bennett). “I realized last night, I enjoy watching Jeremy Davies so much, I think he might be one of my favorite actors. So the whole Dickie and Dewey story line, man, I loved that, and I wish I could have been a part of that,” he says. “But Devil became this really despicable guy, and even if you liked him, you didn’t like him. I think some people were ready to see him go.”
As for Unforgettable, which consistently wins its Tuesdays at 10 p.m. time slot in total viewers, Rankin says part of the discussion when he signed on for the series was about how it would eventually get around to every character’s backstory and have “more meat in that procedural sandwich” than you’d normally get with a cop show. Producers make good on that promise to him with the episode they’re currently filming. His Det. Roe Saunders shoots a man whose father ends up taking hostages in the precinct and demanding to see the cop who killed his son. Roe is on temporary leave pending an investigation, but finds it hard to stay away. We’ll have more from Rankin dishing on the tense hour closer to the episode’s Feb. 28 airdate. But needless to say, the people watching the monitors today weren’t the only ones excited to see Rankin (Friday Night Lights, Big Love) get this juicy story: “When they came to me with this script, I said, ‘All that procedural exposition is the stuff I had to learn. It’s a whole new way of acting. This is the stuff that I do. This is my wheelhouse,'” he says.