I spoke with the phenomenal Damon Herriman about his role as Dewey Crowe on Justified. Damon is not only a brilliant actor but he plays one of my favorite characters on the show, so it was an honor to be able to speak with him about Dewey. Dewey’s charm adds so much to the series. Say what you want about Dewey but you can never say that he doesn’t keep you entertained. Damon could not have been any nicer. This season of Justified has been incredible. Justified airs Tuesday nights at 10 on FX.
Lena: Your [Australian] accent is gorgeous.
Damon Herriman: [Laughing.] It comes easy. I don’t even have to try.
Lena: Do you split your time up between Australia and the U.S.?
Damon Herriman: Yeah. I guess for about the last nine years I’ve spent about half the time here and half the time in Australia – depending on where I happen to be working. It’s been good. I’ve been acting in Australia since I was a little kid, so I’m so used to working there and the idea of just kind of giving up on the work at home and the opportunities at home seemed like – I never really wanted to do that. I’ve always wanted to be able to keep working there and here, if I can.
Lena: Your accent on Justified is flawless. A lot of people that watch the show, even one of my Australian friends, have no idea that you are even Australian.
Damon Herriman: Thank you. It’s nice to know that people find me actually convincing. It’s a little bit easier for Australians, I think, because we grow up with a lot of American film and TV so it’s not as big of a leap. It’s not like learning something entirely foreign. You are very familiar with it already.
Lena: I have to say that I love Dewey. I’ve always had a soft spot for him. I don’t care how many kidneys he thinks he has.
Damon Herriman: I’m glad you love Dewey. It’s nice to hear that. He’s such an unusual character. He’s got these, kind of, crazy white supremacist tattoos on him and he’s, kind of, done some bad things and you should really hate him but I guess because he’s so hapless and hopeless that it makes some people feel sorry for him. I don’t think you necessarily believe that he’s as bad as he makes out to be.
Lena: You do a phenomenal job bringing him to life.
Damon Herriman: Oh, thank you. A lot of credit goes to the writers. The writing on that show is so good and the writing for that character is so good. Every time you get a new episode you just can’t wait to open it up and see what crazy adventure that he’s doing.
Lena: What do you think Dewey’s perfect day would consist of?
Damon Herriman: Probably any day before his cousin turned up this season. [Laughing.] Dewey’s been spending a lot of time in jail and the next thing he knows he has 300 grand and owns a whorehouse and he’s got chicks and booze – whatever he wants. He’s the kingpin for a change. I would imagine any day lazing about in that above ground pool before it got shot up. [Laughing.]
Lena: Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) has to ruin everything.
Damon Herriman: I know. That pool makes another appearance in the next episode, actually. Dewey makes an attempt to sell it, which is not easy when you have a pool that is kind of ripped open with gunshots. It’s quite a fun scene.
Lena: The beginning of the season started out really well for him, he came into some money and Raylan apologized to him but now Dewey’s curse lives on.
Damon Herriman: It is like a curse. He just can’t take a trick. Everything he makes an attempt at – whether it’s the Oxy storyline or that awful kidney episode – while everything was going great – it’s like he has a cruel god dishing out these awful scenarios like Dewey did something wrong in a former life and he’s going to pay for it now. It doesn’t matter what is going well for Dewey because it suddenly starts to go wrong. It would be interesting if by the end of the show, that is wrapping up next season, if something nice actually happens and it actually stays that way. That would be a nice way to wrap it up for him, I think.
Lena: I agree. You know it’s bad when even the whores don’t respect him. Dewey gave them meaningful gifts and they just dismissed him.
Damon Herriman: I know. I mean, who wouldn’t want a turtle dog?
Lena: Exactly! That was actually my question for you word-for-word. Who wouldn’t want a turtle dog? [Laughing.]
Damon Herriman: [Laughing.] That was actually quite funny. On that day that line wasn’t in there. It said that Dewey gives her some weird carved creature, or something. It looked sort of like a wooden body of a turtle but it had a really long piece of string coming out the back like a dog’s tail. We were laughing and questioning what this thing was that Dewey had. The line that she said was “What is it?” Dewey says, “I’ve got no idea.” We shot it that way and I said it seems like a cross between a turtle and a dog. I asked if we could do a version where I say it’s a turtle dog, like Dewey thinks that’s a thing? We shot both versions and that’s the one that they used. I liked the idea that Dewey thinks that there is a creature called a turtle dog.
Lena: [Laughing.] It fits him perfectly.
Damon Herriman: Exactly.
Lena: You’ve been on the series since the beginning, so can you discuss the evolution of Dewey Crowe?
Damon Herriman: That’s a tough one because it’s happened so gradually. You don’t really notice it until you watch an old episode. I really notice when I look at some of the older stuff because I can see that he’s not quite formed yet because as an actor you just turn up – you just get this job and you sort of try to come up with something based on what the character description is and what the dialog is. You don’t have a whole history to apply. It’s interesting looking back and seeing that early stuff because you go yeah, it’s half Dewey. It’s Dewey light, you know. I guess over the course of the seasons the hapless quality that Dewey has grown a lot. In that first episode you certainly get a glimpse of it – the whole thing where he tries to pull the gun on Raylan and all that bit. I think over the course of the seasons there might have been more of his IQ, or lack there of. I think they really realize that there is a lot of mileage to be had in this whole idea of giving Dewey some kind of success and pulling the rug from under his feet. That’s where it has really evolved. Now if Dewey is going to be in an episode you can kind of guarantee that there is going to be a storyline involving things going wrong for him
Lena: Who do you think Dewey should fear the most besides himself?
Damon Herriman: I guess in this season Darryl, Michael Rapaport’s character. He fears Boyd (Walton Goggins) at times but he sort of has an odd relationship with Boyd that they are kind of old friends too. I feel like he can – I don’t know I don’t think he can really talk to Boyd because he’s taking advantage of him but I think, probably at the moment, it’s Darryl because I don’t think he cares two hoots for Dewey and his welfare or financial situation. I think Darryl is more than happy to come in and take Dewey’s property and probably take Dewey’s life if he needed to. I would say Darryl at this particular time.
Lena: I love Dewey’s interactions with Darryl.
Damon Herriman: Michael is so great to work with. He’s always coming up with stuff and he just plays it perfectly – that smiling kind of thing. He doesn’t have to raise his voice to be intimidating.
Lena: This season really started heating up last week. What can you say about the rest of the season and what we can expect from Dewey?
Damon Herriman: I haven’t read to the very end but I guess I can say that initially it’s Dewey coming to terms with the fact that he’s killed someone. There are definitely a couple of episodes dealing with that and the fact that he’s troubled by what he’s done to Wade Messer (James Le Gros). Also he kind of gets roped into some things. Dewey takes part in that for a period of time and then he has a sudden change of heart. We have another classic Dewey episode and things going horribly wrong.
Lena: Oh, no. How much more are they going to throw at him?
Damon Herriman: I know. Give the guy a break.
Lena: If they had a highlight reel of all his failures…
Damon Herriman: I know. Could you imagine? It would be really depressing. Wouldn’t it?
Lena: I really hope he lives until the very end of the series because we need more Dewey and a Dewey spin-off series.
Damon Herriman: Yes. Can you please tell someone that because I would love to do a spin-off series? That would be great. [Laughing.]
Lena: That would be amazing.
Damon Herriman: It would just be a matter of coming up with what the scenario was. What the setting of it would be.
Lena: You could put Dewey in any situation.
Damon Herriman: Maybe that’s the pitch? So here’s the show – Dewey doing anything. You could combine Dewey with Quantum Leap or something. In the episode he disappears…Dewey in a time machine. [Laughing.]
Lena: [Laughing.] Now that would be fantastic. It would be the next biggest hit. [The TV Gods really need to make this happen. How incredible would that show be?]
Lena: I hope that they air your Australian miniseries Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS here.
Damon Herriman: I know that they are looking into trying to get a screening for it over here. It’s not out of the question. It’s really good. I saw it back in Australia and it’s great. It’s got a great story and there is a lot about their success in America.
Justified airs Tuesday nights at 10 on FX.