Jeff Fahey made his big-screen debut as a backwoods criminal in Lawrence Kasdan’s Silverado and now, 25 years later, he’s back on the wrong side of the law as Zachariah Randolph, a backwoods criminal who runs afoul of Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) on the sixth and final season of FX’s Justified.
It’s a mark of Fahey’s range that his career has taken him everywhere from the Joffrey Ballet to the role of Capt. Frank Lapidus on Lost. The 62-year-old actor talked about the long, strange trip he’s taken and answered our Lucky 7 questionnaire.
How does it feel to have joined Justified in its final season?
I told [executive producer] Graham Yost, “It’s too bad this didn’t happen six years ago. I could’ve easily ridden this horse for six years.” They only had this character in mind for three or four episodes, and it’s just kept going and going.
What’s the key to understanding Zachariah?
We wanted to create a character who was not the sharpest tool in the shed, but by the same token, he has his own deep set of principles that’s based on family and work ethic. He’s a man of confused moral integrity.
You’ve done so many different kinds of roles. What do you get recognized for most?
It’s a whole bag of tricks. For years, it was The Lawnmower Man and Silverado. But lately, it’s been Justified. It has quite a cult following and an audience that’s quite opinionated and passionate about the show.
They sound like Losties. Do fans still ask you about the finale?
All the time. I go with the explanation that I’m just as confused as you are, and if you’re happy with it, I’m happy with it, and if you’re not, I feel bad for you.
You studied with the Joffrey Ballet starting when you were 25. How did that prepare you for an acting career?
I started it after I had been acting, because I had been involved with experimental theater. That opened me up to movement and music. I was fascinated by the discipline of dance, and I still bring that to my work.
What was your first exposure to Playboy?
I don’t remember the first, but I’ll never forget so many over the years. I’ve always dug it. The fascinating, wonderful female body and beauty. You know the classic line, “I only get it for the interviews.” Well, I’m sure I saw Playboy long before I could appreciate a good interview.
What movie scared you the most when you were a kid?
The Exorcist. That may be because I was raised Roman Catholic.
If you ended up on death row, what would your last meal be?
Hell, I don’t think I’d eat. My appetite would be long gone by that point.
What was your first car?
A Volkswagen Bug. It actually wasn’t mine — I borrowed it. When I was 17, I left home and hitch-hiked to Alaska. I was a hippie on the road.
What was the first song you knew all the words to?
“Happy Together,” by the Turtles. I still sing it today!
Do you have a pop-culture blind spot?
Twitter. I couldn’t send a tweet right now if you asked me to. There have been a number of Twitter accounts out there with my name on them, but they weren’t me. It’s a sore spot and a blind spot.
What was your favorite mistake?
My career. [Laughs.] How’s that?
Currently Senior Articles Editor for Closer Weekly, Bruce Fretts wrote TV Guide Magazine‘s wildly popular “Cheers & Jeers” column for 10 years. His work has also been published in the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Emmy Magazine, Vulture.com and Digital Spy. You can follow him on Twitter @brucefretts.