Being bad is good for Walton Goggins, whose turn in 'Fallout' has kept his star rising

Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES — A wave of dread swept over Walton Goggins on the first day of work on Prime Video's post-apocalyptic drama "Fallout." He was on location by a lake, and was so thrown by the heavy makeup and bulky wardrobe of his outlaw character that he wondered whether he would make it to Day 2.

"The heat index was 106 degrees," he recalled. "I couldn't see. My periphery was off. I couldn't hear so well. I couldn't swallow. After a couple of setups, I sat down on a log and thought, 'I don't know if I can do this. I really don't.'"

Goggins was stepping into the role of the Ghoul, a 200-year-old gunslinger. Think of Clint Eastwood's the Man With No Name without a poncho or a nose, and you get an idea of the Ghoul's look. The actor said he was "extremely overwhelmed" not just by the makeup, but by the process of becoming the Ghoul: "I had to get in the mindset of carrying around the pain he's been walking with for 200 years."

"I'm getting too old for this s—," he thought.

It was then he remembered experiencing the same anxiety when first stepping into many of the featured roles that have established him as one of the industry's most versatile performers.

"I realized I felt this way on 'The Shield,' on 'The Hateful Eight,' on 'Vice Principals,'" Goggins said. "And it kicked in that if I don't have that fear at the beginning of an experience, that's when I know I need to do something else with my life."


His fear lifted, and he proceeded to get his Ghoul on. His double performance as the mutant menace, and as film star Cooper Howard, is now praised as a highlight of "Fallout," which has blossomed into the streamer's most popular series ever. The drama, which premiered in April, has already been renewed for a second season.

The character is the latest addition in Goggins' wide gallery of multidimensional offbeat figures — many of them behaving badly — already occupied by vicious criminal turned preacher Boyd Crowder in "Justified," sadistic slave overseer Billy Crash in "Django Unchained" and the transgender prostitute Venus Van Dam in the biker drama "Sons of Anarchy."

And he's already working on the next entry — he's in the third season of HBO's "The White Lotus." Flashing a smile, he quipped that he can't say a word about his character or the plot "or I will be killed."

Despite feeling a bit fatigued by the back-and-forth travel to Thailand, where the critically acclaimed series is being filmed, Goggins was in a celebratory mood recently as he sipped a flaming margarita at Hollywood's El Compadre restaurant, one of his favorite haunts.


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