From director Roar Uthaug (The Wave) and inspired by the 2013 reboot of the video game, the action-adventure flick Tomb Raider follows Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), the fiercely independent 21-year-old daughter of a father (Dominic West) who vanished seven years prior, leaving her with the desire to forge her own path instead of taking the reins of his global empire. Faced with the very real possibility of learning what happened to him, she sets out on a search for the fabled tomb on a mythical island off the coast of Japan, which was his last-known destination, with the hope that she’ll find answers.
At the film’s Los Angeles press junket, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with actor Walton Goggins (who clearly had a blast playing antagonist Mathias Vogel, a ruthless mercenary assigned the impossible task of uncovering a 2,000-year-old tomb containing the mummified remains of Queen Himiko, also known as the Mother of Death) and talk 1-on-1 about why he wanted to sign on for Tomb Raider, why he was excited about Alicia Vikander playing this iconic character, and never thinking about his characters as good guys or bad guys. He also talked about why he signed on to play Detective Jack Vincennes in the L.A. Confidential TV series for CBS and what he liked about the pilot script, as well as what made him want to be a part of Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Collider: With Tomb Raider, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the L.A. Confidential TV series, it seems like a good time to be you.
WALTON GOGGINS: I hope so! I think it will always be a good time to be me, as long as I have my little boy. I’m doing okay. Life is all right.
When you read this script, did you have a list of red flags that, if they’d been there, you wouldn’t have done this?
GOGGINS: Yeah, absolutely! And then, I read it. You don’t judge a book by its cover. I was sitting there, reading the story and thinking about Alicia [Vikander] playing this iconic character, and I got to the end and thought, “My god, I think I know what I could do for her and I think I know what I could do for this director’s vision.” And then, I spoke with Roar [Uthaug], and they wanted that. I was not surprised, but I suppose I was gratified that he heard my interpretation of it and he said, “That’s what I want. That’s exactly what I want.” I wasn’t trying to accommodate an idea of what he may want. It was just, “This is how I see this guy, and I just really wanna play him in a very real way.” I wanted to see who he is, where he comes from, and what is life is like, day to day, on this island. The rest is what you saw.
Do you think you would have been more reluctant about the whole thing, if you hadn’t known who would be playing Lara Croft when you read it?
GOGGINS: Yeah, I think so. But, I really predicate all of my decisions based on the strength of the story and whether or not I can contribute. So, if I read the same story and had the same conversation, I probably wouldn’t have been as excited as I was when I found out that Alicia was going to be Lara Croft, but I would have said yes because I wanted to understand this guy.
As you’ve amassed such an interesting and varied collection of antagonist characters, have you ever wondered why nice guys don’t come your way more often?
GOGGINS: I do, but I don’t know why. Ant-Man and the Wasp let me do this movie that I’m really passionate about, called Them That Follow. It’s about this snake-handling community, up in Appalachia, and it’s about this father and daughter. I suppose, on paper, he could be considered a bad guy, maybe, but I didn’t see him that way. I saw him as a person of faith, and as a person who really believed in something and stood for something. Because of that, I think we have something really, really special. I don’t know if I’ll be offered the traditional good guy role. I don’t think about it, in those terms. I’m just playing it as it lays. I’m saying no to the things that I can’t find a way into and I’m saying yes to the things that I can, regardless of where they are on the call sheet and regardless of whether they fit into a traditional good guy or bad guy box.
What made you sign on to play Detective Jack Vincennes in the L.A. Confidential TV series for CBS, especially knowing that you could be doing so for as long as five or seven years?
GOGGINS: That scares the shit out of me! I don’t know the answer to that question. I probably haven’t thought that through. I really haven’t. You’re saying that now, and I’m having an existential crisis. I know that I what I said yes to was a really good script. It’s an unbelievable script, based on Mr. Ellroy’s novel. I thought it was an opportunity to explore the city that I live in and to answer some of these questions or at least participate in the conversation of all the things that are happening in 2018, through a 1950s filter. And I liked the role. It may fail miserably, but not because I didn’t try. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m scared and I have a lot of anxiety about it. At the end of the day, I’ll do the best job I can do.
Have you had conversations yet about how many episodes the season will be?
GOGGINS: No. It’s just a pilot. I think all of those conversations are ongoing. I don’t know.
Is it also appealing that you’ll be able to do a job that keeps you in the same location and with your family for a bit?
GOGGINS: My son, my wife and my family are my priority. This last year, I was gone for a long time, but they were with me for a lot of it. I look for things that I can dip into and get out of, and then I look for a long commitment with things that I can dip into and get out of. It doesn’t really matter to me, if it’s film or television. I love making movies. I look at the great Allison Janney, or so many other people, or even my own life, where I’ve been on television for a long time and that hasn’t prevented me from doing the movies that I’ve wanted to do. I hope that this doesn’t either. I don’t know. I don’t know about tomorrow. I only know about today.
I was excited to hear that Anna Fricke has been added as co-showrunner with Jordan Harper, to bring a female perspective.
GOGGINS: Yeah, absolutely! She’s smart. At least, in the draft that I read, and with Anna there, there are some great female roles. You have these three men – one that works with his first, one that works with his head, and one that works with his personality – but it’s telling the larger story of a moment in time, in a city in America, that reverberated throughout America. That can be important. We’ll see. I’m really excited about it.
What led you to Ant-Man and the Wasp?
GOGGINS: Because Peyton Reed is a fuckin’ genius, and Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly and Michael Peña just get it. They are so clever. They are so smart and they have invented their own language. Nobody is doing what that movie is doing. I think it’s really cool.
Tomb Raider opens in theaters on March 16th.