The following is an interview conducted by and for Spirit Magazine with actor and Midtown member, Timothy Olyphant.
It’s not too surprising that for an actor best known for playing cowboys, Timothy Olyphant knows how to stay physically and mentally sharp during filming. That may explain why off- screen you’re more likely to find him with a tennis racquet in his hand than a six-shooter at his hip. Though most famous for portraying U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens in FX’s Justified (2010-2015), his career started on the stage in 1995 with the play The Monogamist. This past year he found himself acting opposite Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood. Donning a new hat, Timothy Olyphant joins the cast in the highly anticipated new season of FX’s Fargo. Fargo may have brought him to Chicago, but tennis brought him to Midtown. It’s a good thing this town is big enough for the both of them.
MIDTOWN: How long have you been coming to Midtown?
TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: I started the job just before Thanksgiving and I’ve been coming out about twice a week. Whenever I’m on vacation I try to find a place where I can either play tennis or swim, preferably both. Keeping yourself fit keeps you sane.
MIDTOWN: When did you start playing tennis?
TO: I grew up next door to a swimming and racquet club, so we all played a little bit of tennis when we were young and swam. I started playing tennis again in my 20s or 30s when I moved back out to LA. I had my daughter start playing, and now, I’m constantly trying to improve to keep up with her.
MIDTOWN: What has your experience been like in Chicago?
TO: I love this town. I’ve been to the Art Institute half a dozen times and I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art and it was fantastic. The job I’m doing is really a blast as well, and that always makes everything nice.
MIDTOWN: How often have you been able to see your family?
TO: My wife came up to visit and we had a lovely weekend here with tons of good food—not good for you, but good.
MIDTOWN: Santaland Diaries was recently in Chicago. You were the first to play that role?
TO: My wife and I were living in New York, and I got a call for this one man show. David Sedaris was just gaining traction. He is a very seriously good man.
MIDTOWN: Have you ever been starstruck?
TO: I don’t feel like I have, but I appreciate just taking in the presence of certain people. My wife and I went to the SAG Awards, and over my left shoulder was Meryl Streep and De Niro sat a table over from us. It’s nice to be in the room. Well, yeah, Leonardo. When I’m doing a scene with Leonardo DiCaprio, there’s moments where I’m in the middle of the scene and I’m thinking, “I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen this guy.”
MIDTOWN: Do you have an ultimate career goal?
TO: No. I enjoy the job, especially when the work is great, and that’s really about how well written it is. It’s fun to be part of a good story. Then the job takes on this whole other kind of life. I find myself both completely immersed in the work, while also aware of how it fits into the larger story. Because I’m aware of what’s transpiring outside of the scene at the same time, it allows me to enjoy the moments more fully; you trust the moment so much more. I think back to this last year and I’ve been really spoiled, so I don’t know how to approach the next.
MIDTOWN: Is there a celebrity or athlete out there that you would love to play tennis with?
TO: Oh, wait, I haven’t been truthful. I do have a goal. I want to do a tennis talk show. The way Jerry Seinfeld drives around with the comedians, I just want to drive around with professional tennis players, and then we head over and hit for a while. I’ve got a whole vision for it, theme song and everything. Yeah, that’s rad. I love it.
Learn more about the racquet sports programming that brought Timothy Olyphant to Midtown.