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Walton Goggins: Behind the Badge of ‘The Shield’s’ Shane

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Sep 02, 2008 | 9:30am EDT

For fans of FX’s gritty, acclaimed cop drama The Shield, Strike Team member Shane Vendrell has evolved into either the man you love to hate or the man you hate to love. As the noose tightens around the cops for their corrupt actions, Shane’s emerged from Vic Mackey’s shadow and transformed from an unwavering loyal Strike Team lackey to a man who’s capable of doing just about anything, right or wrong, to save his skin and now vies with Vic as the most dangerous man in The Barn.

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But there’s no hating on Shane’s alter ego, actor Walton Goggins. In contrast to Shane’s edgy intensity, Goggins is the most affable of personalities, and incredibly appreciative of how the acting opportunities of the series have challenged him and elevated his profile.

As the seventh and final season of the series debuts this month, Shane is a more critical character than ever – as based on the first eight episodes, the show’s never been as intense and unpredictable – as he and Vic decide if they’re going to make peace or go to war over the sins of their past. Goggins sat down with Hollywood.com exclusively to reflect on his ride on the way to The Shield’s sure-to-be shattering conclusion (and took the fifth on plot spoilers).

“We hope that this work will never be in vain and we've worked our asses off,” said Goggins. “I'm not just talking about the actors either. I'm speaking about the crew, speaking about the DP and about every director who came onboard and every writer who wrote every word and page… I'm so proud of it.”

Hollywood.com: When you first got cast and got a sense of this character, did you ever have a sense of what an acting challenge was coming your way over the course of the series?

Walt Goggins:

I didn't find this out until the DVD commentary of Season One, but after the pilot episode they wanted to fire me [laughs], but I said, 'I had four lines in the pilot.' They said, 'Still, they weren't quite sure how you fit into it and it was kind of negative, your whole bent. And people didn't really respond to you.' I was like, again, 'How do you respond to someone who has four lines. Come on!' Shawn [Ryan] having that information took it upon himself to say, 'No, you guys don't know. We have something really special with this actor.' I was so appreciative that he went to bat for me without me knowing any of this. And then in Episode Two, that was a huge deal for me and it really kind of set the tone for my arc over the series and the arc of this friendship because we were both – Michael Chiklis and I, Vic Mackey and Shane Vendrell – were inexorably tied to the original center of the show. You could never take that away. So it is about these two people having that information and how that information is revealed to the other people that are around us and how that affects us and where this friendship ultimately ends up.

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