Huge Sky’s John Carroll Lynch Talks Fall Finals Shock: “Karma’s A Slut”

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Warning: This post contains major spoilers from Big Sky’s fall finale. Proceed accordingly.

Talk about big Rick Energy.

John Carroll Lynch’s officer Rick Legarski was a cocky, mocking son of a gun until Tuesday’s Big Sky Fall Finals … when he incited Cassie Dewell to shoot him in the head.

The lesson began when Legarski had the vision of punching his wife Merilee in the skull with a hammer for daring to dance with another man. But he thought better and later announced to Ronald that after the Canadians picked up Jerrie, Grace and Dani that day, he would get out of the sex trade for good.

He was also half a step ahead of Cassie and Jenny after moving the abducted women just before the duo got the sheriff’s forces to descend on the Building of Land Management property. With the trio now tied up in the basement of the All In Bar, Cassie finally realized that Rick might be holding her there. When she found him there with the women, they both drew their weapons. And although her hands were shaking and Legarski mocked her for not being able to pull the trigger at first, Cassie finally pulled off a shot that lodged itself in Rick’s skull.

That was the first thing we discussed with Lynch when we called him on Tuesday.

TVLINE | Getting shot in the head isn’t really something people recover from. Are you allowed to say if he’s a goner or not?
May I say I don’t know. I will say that whatever happens is appropriate for this character.

TVLINE | Rick mentions in this episode that he’s breaking up a bit. Do you think the events of this episode would have turned out differently if he hadn’t felt like everything was falling apart?
One of the things that I have been very excited about is examining the decisions of someone who is unable to break down their decisions. They affect him as opposed to someone who can move on at no cost. This is a fair answer for the cost of it all, you know what I mean? Rick Legarski in his prime would never have been a sex dealer. We have to believe that at some point he was what everyone thought. And then something happened to him. He took power into his own hands and made his own decisions. So that’s what’s appropriately happening to him. Karma’s a bitch you know what I mean A pain in the ass.

TVLINE | They say Rick wasn’t always what he is now. We saw Rick recruit Ronald, but do you know how Rick was recruited? Or could that be something we see in the coming season?
I’m not sure what will play out as the season progresses, whether you find out or not. I dont know. For me, the character watched his corner of Montana fall apart. He watched the growth of many things that shouldn’t be there: methamphetamines, poverty, and other things. He made the decision that he couldn’t clean it all up, but he could basically export the sex workers problem in his small area. The choices he’d made had obviously more to do with his misogyny and sense of entitlement to the law. And everyone who takes the law into their own hands makes mistakes like this at some point, and they were doozies.

TVLINE | Merilee’s admission that she danced with another man hit Rick harder than I expected. Do you think he thought it hit him so hard?
I think he’s surprised how much he cares. Not that he didn’t think he’d care, but he’s surprised how deeply wounded he is by the betrayal. And for him it is treason. It’s nothing compared to what he’s doing. [Laughs] In terms of betrayal, it is none other than the betrayal in which he is already involved: to keep this terrible thing away from her, to even get involved, to create a circumstance in which her life and reputation will deteriorate. I don’t think he thinks that way; again everything is very selfish. I think he’s pretty surprised at how deeply he feels for her. In his mind, if he can only end this thing, he can find redemption again. But Cassie Dewell has other plans.

TVLINE | When someone has a very strong ideology, there are always gaps.
Yes.

TVLINE | You can always find gaps for something you want to do or to forgive something that someone you love did.
Right.

TVLINE | When he recruited Ronald, I could only imagine: “The problem is not the sex workers. The problem is men like Ronald. “
Yes. Let’s find out who is to blame: let’s blame the woman who is desperate. He’s obviously blaming the wrong person. This is going to sound really … I saw this amazing TED talk between this woman and this man. They have a Co-TED conversation about the night he raped her in high school. He was a transfer student from Australia in Iceland and they have a conversation … about that evening. She says something that I think is important and that is certainly true and obvious: the problem of rape, the problem of sex trafficking, is not a woman’s problem, but a man’s problem. The way we socialize men is clearly wrong. You know the phrase, “It is an opportunity to sin,” a line I made up [Laughs]This is what the Jesuits told me about sex when I was in high school – that the circumstances are “an opportunity to sin.” And they talked about the circumstances; I don’t think they meant to say that women were an opportunity to sin. But for a 14 year old, 15 year old boy? That is how he will interpret it. Because he’s not the problem. And I don’t think Rick ever got over that mentality. I don’t think Rick has ever gotten over it, “I’m supposed to be dominant, I’m supposed to be responsible, I’m supposed to make the decisions, I’m supposed to care the way I like people, and it’s all about me. “And it is clear!

TVLINE | I don’t know what your personal political preferences are, and it doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this question. But Big Sky was made in the year of a highly polarizing presidential election, and Rick really does represent many things that the far right stood for. I don’t think he’ll ever say the phrase “make America great again,” but it could definitely have come out of his mouth very easily. How much came to mind in American politics when you played against him?
I really feel that the people who write television and create television often live in a bubble away from people who live outside of that bubble but have nothing to do with it. We’re trying to create a world that, especially if the show is in Montana – I don’t know how many of the writers were in Montana. I definitely wasn’t. I based my understanding of the character on my own experience of living and growing up in Colorado, which was a decidedly red state at the time I was growing up. It wasn’t the pot-legalized, larger version of Seattle that it is now. But the main thing I had in mind was figuring out what the world was like at that moment from that person’s perspective. And not as a reflection of – I hope – not as a reflection of what people in a bubble within an industry are saying if that makes any sense.

I was very sensitive to the idea: “It sounds like someone is looking from the outside in, not the inside out.” I hope that in this deluded, horrible person I have achieved a certain level of “inside-out”. This is not the ethos of anyone seriously involved. Let’s say there are people in the world who are trying to make America as great again as they think it needs to be. I think Rick is that person [but] He’s just crazy. These decisions are not rational decisions. They are impulsive and inappropriate and in some ways sad – especially when he has a good reputation, is in the community, has a wife who could possibly love him, and all of which he puts at risk for that behavior, and he doesn’t realize it until it’s too late. And that way it’s sad. But he’s responsible. And that responsibility comes into play in this episode.

TVLINE | I want to leave you a little easier: when I spoke to Jade Pettyjohn, she told me that you actually carried her around during the episode where Grace escapes. And so much of Rick’s dialogue benefited from your stature. So I’m probably asking: is your back okay?
My back is fine. [Laughs] I have to say: I once shot a film here in Vancouver called Love Happens. There was one setting where I got off a tour bus and went to a home depot with a few people as part of a funeral seminar. That is a long story. Still, the shot was beautiful. It was a ascending crane that was shot at the Home Depot as everyone entered the store. And I had a car. When I took the picture, it seemed perfectly rational and reasonable that we should all go in there as mourners. And then when I saw the recording, I said, “Why is this grown-up going into a store with 40 kids?” I often forget how tall I am compared to other people. [Laughs] And Jade is definitely a petite person. So I look even more like a different species when I carry it around. That’s just true.

TVLINE | Never have I ever looked at you on screen and thought, “Wow, what a giant. How did you ever fit this man into the frame ?! “
If you look back at my work and find that my scene partner doesn’t take over-the-shoulder shots most of the time. There are always shots over the arm because if they were shot over the shoulder everyone would look like they were 3 feet tall. In fact, one of the directors on that show said, “Let’s shut down the camera. I don’t want to downsize the other characters. ” [Laughs] But it was like that, why did you even try a shot over the shoulder? It always looks like I’m looming! Basically, when I’m looking at a script and don’t know who I’m reading or looking for, I often search for the word wood, and that’s probably the character I’m going to read for.

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