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Interview: Joelle Carter Isn't 'Justified's' Damsel In Distress

Brittany Frederick Brittany Frederick
February 9th, 2011 3:45pm EST

Joelle CarterTo end our "Countdown to Justified" on a high note, I went to one of the stars. Actress Joelle Carter, who plays Ava Crowder on the FX drama, sat down with me to dish about the second season, the experience of being on the series, and her work on one of my favorite films of all time. Warning: there are spoilers ahead.

In the first season, from the word "go," the character of Ava was in trouble or on the verge of getting into trouble. I always thought she had really bad luck or terrible judgment. Did that ever drive you nuts?

It might be a mixture of the two. I think she's been suppressed for so long, she's tired of people telling her what to do. She's been under the hand of her ex and she's finally free.

I just finished reviewing the first three episodes of the new season, and I have to say your character seems to have changed a bit. She's no longer necessarily the one to be protected; she's much tougher and more sure of herself. That has to be fun to play.

I like that they really are letting Ava take some character journeys. I think she was in a bit of a daze in Season 1. Now she's through that and getting closer to realizing who she is.

By the third episode, we see Ava finally stand up to Raylan. It seems like she's finally forging her own identity separate from everyone else. Is that something we're going to see continue?

I think she is. I think she's going to slowly discover where her heart lies. For Ava, I'm not sure exactly what she's doing all the time, but she follows her instincts.

Speaking of Raylan, it seemed in season one like you were going to get the guy, and then that didn't happen. Was that disappointing to play? Is their relationship over for good?

I love the conflict of relationships on Justified. It was fun to play with Tim, so it was a little disappointing but also exciting to know she was going in a new direction. You never know, they still have chemistry.

Ava also has an interesting relationship with Boyd. At first, she didn't want much to do with him but in season two she's almost protective of him. How's that going to work out?

I think it has to do with going back to your roots. She also doesn't have a lot of people in her life, and she knows he has a good heart. And she needs help making ends meet. I feel like they learn new values about each other.

That brings me to an interesting point. Ava is in a unique position because she's square in the middle of both sides. Not to mention that where we thought her story was going to end up, it didn't. With all that going on, how do you approach playing her?

She's got loyalties on both sides. When she married [Bowman], I don't think she intended to get into the business. It's like the mafia - you realize when you get in there, you don't have a choice. She's kind of trying to find where she belongs. I have to kind of keep up because something might come back up.

Were you familiar with Elmore Leonard's work before you joined the show?

I read the short story ["Fire In The Hole"]. I love the way [Elmore Leonard] uses subtext and humor. The writers really embrace that style.

I want to talk about the rest of your career for a bit, because you've done some projects that I really loved. You played one of John Cusack's ex-girlfriends in High Fidelity, which is one of my favorite films ever.

It was brilliant because I'd always been a huge fan of John Cusack. I got to meet one of my childhood crushes. It was so fun. I have fond memories of going to Chicago.

You've also done some pretty cool television, including Cold Case and Three Rivers for CBS, and I had no idea you did a few episodes of Third Watch back in the day. Do you have a favorite guest-starring gig?

Third Watch, they were going to make [me] a potentially recurring character, and then they went another way. I seem to get some interesting parts. I think one time  I played a murderer who was also a drug dealer. I'm looking forward to getting into some new shows. I'd love to be on The Good Wife. The Wire is no longer in existence, but I would've loved to be on it.

Do you have any future career aspirations?

I would love to do comedy - certain kinds of comedy, though. I like dry wit. It'd be nice to be on Modern Family. I have thought about [directing]. I'm in the process of developing a script; I might co-direct it with my husband.

After all the things you've done in your career, do you have a particular favorite experience or role that you hold onto?

I am really in love with Ava. I did love High Fidelity. I think I really hold onto Wonderland - for me, as a young actor, I thought I'd made it when I walked onto that set. I look forward to what's going to happen in the future.

My thanks to Joelle Carter for this interview. Don't forget to catch her when Justified returns tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on FX! And for more Justified, check out the show category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.

Photo Credits: FX