Man-Acting: Tim Olyphant – The Great American Hope

I’ve mentioned this point before in our Man-Acting series, but, following the pace of best theatrical writing quality, the top Man-Acting is finding its home on cable television.Think “The Shield”‘s Vic Mackey, “Sons of Anarchy”‘s Jax Teller, “The Sopranos” Tony Soprano, and almost all the male (and some of the female) stars on “The Wire.”

Now, we get a new vehicle for a potential Man-Acting star. Witness the rising talents of Tim Olyphant.

Olyphant first showcased his Man-Acting credentials in HBO’s “Deadwood,” a wonderfully poetic and violent drama highlighting the origins of the U.S. Empire and its infrastructures through the familiar milieu of the Western. It was stunningly written, and, though unknowingly, worked as a perfect companion piece to match “The Wire,” which showcased the growing cracks in the U.S.’s grand plan.

In the series, Olyphant plays Seth Bullock, the town’s reluctant sheriff who walks the line between the enforcing the law and guiding the town’s survival as enemies from all sides crash down on it.

One of the biggest lines of demarcation for Man-Actors is their ability to sell their on-screen fighting technique. Could a fifth-grader block their lame haymaker, or would I want this actor on my side when the paparazzi get too close for comfort?

Olyphant’s credentials are apparent in this “Deadwood” clip, where he fights an attacking Native American. No masny words are spoken, a healthy sign that good Man-Acting is afoot.

Good shit.

Olyphant could solidify his status as one of this nation’s best Man-Actors (which is definitely needed, as we’ve been importing Man-Actors from Australia and England for 15 years now) this spring, in a new FX drama, “Justified,” playing a rogue U.S. Marshall returning to his redneck home.

America’s next great Man-Acting hope? We can only pray.

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