Vivian Olyphant | Debuts in 'Justified: City Primeval'

She's just getting started

Written by

Cerys Davies

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A college student gets a phone call. It’s from her parents. The usual catch up commences. How are your classes? Do you like your professors? What have you been eating? After a few passing comments about homework and new friends, Vivian Olyphant catches wind of a new FX show called Justified: City Primeval that her father, Timothy Olyphant, is set to star in. Her parents mention that they have begun the search for someone to play Timothy’s daughter on screen. Vivian exhibited a keen interest in the audition process and immediately knew it was time. Here we speak with Vivian prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Despite never having acted or auditioned before, Vivian was no stranger to set life. With Santa Clarita Diet and Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant as her father, she was practically raised on various sets. Having grown up in such a creatively stimulating environment, Vivian always had a feeling she would follow in her father’s footsteps. 

“Especially when I was little, I would go visit him, meet all these fun people, and even sit in a makeup chair and get all dolled up,” shared Vivian. “Being in that kind of creative space was just so fun to see him just be very playful and live in these imaginary worlds. The fact that he was getting paid for that was even more exciting.”

Justified: City Primeval is the revival of Emmy-winning series Justified which came to a close in 2015. The eight part reboot revisits US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) on a new criminal chase for The Oklahoma Wildman, a sociopathic outlaw on the run. With a few more gray hairs and a 15 year old daughter, the stakes are higher for Givens this time around. Vivian plays Willa, Raylan’s mischievous daughter who’s along for the ride in this summer drama. 

Playing her father’s daughter onscreen came to Vivian with ease as she has extensive experience in that role. But professionalism and the actors’ home lives didn’t clash when it came to being on screen together. If anything their real life father daughter relationship made Vivian’s first acting experience as smooth as possible

“It's not often that you get to work alongside your parents. It didn't feel strange. It was just very exciting and not just for my Dad and I, but my mom was also on set. She would watch from behind the monitors and every time something happened that she liked, she would give us a thumbs up. It was just a fun experience for my entire family,” said Vivian.

Vivian didn’t simply join the Justified cast, but joined the long time family of cast and crew members that started all the way back in 2010 with the original series. With her best friend working as a production assistant and her parents on set everyday, Vivian only fell more in love with acting each day. 

But acting isn’t her first love. Growing up playing piano and performing for her family cemented her love for music. She followed this love to the Berklee College of Music in Boston where she studied songwriting prior to her role on the FX miniseries. 

“Music and acting are both going to be in my life forever. I don't think I can just choose one. I would do both. The thing that's so exciting about music and acting is that it feels very truthful and collaborative. I love being in a room, working on music with people and being on set with people. Both offer such creative and fun environments,” shared Vivian.

Having only recently gotten into acting, Vivian knew she wanted to really grow as an actor before continuing down this path. After wrapping Justified: City Primeval, she enrolled at the William Esper Studio to grow as an actor before sending out more auditions.

“I really just want to focus on studying till I'm finished with my acting program, then I want to go back into auditioning and working on sets. But right now, I just really want to hone my craft,” Vivian said. “ I realized after watching the first episode, that there's a lot of things that I felt like I could work on. But at the same time, I’m proud of the project.”

The action packed FX series is bound to have viewers on the edge of their seat while the Givens father daughter duo is hot on the trail of the slippery outlaw. Justified: City Primeval premieres July 18th. 

Photographed by  Liam Butler-Schafer 

Styled by Grace Olyphant

Hair: David von Cannon at A-Frame Agency

Makeup: Quinn Murphy at The Wall Group

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Vivian Olyphant, Justified, Timothy Olyphant, Justified: City Primeval