JUSTIFIED’s Joelle Carter Talks Ava and Boyd

Joelle Carter

FX’s extraordinary drama JUSTIFIED has some of the most layered and interesting characters on television. Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) deservedly get the most attention, but the women of Harlan deserve praise, too, especially Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), who has grown so much since shooting her abusive husband to death at the dinner table. Stronger than she looks, Ava does what she has to in order to survive, even if that means living with Boyd to make ends meet. If that cohabitation means some unexpected feelings emerge, she’ll do her best to handle that, too.

Daemon’s TV was there when Joelle Carter talked about Ava’s growth, where Raylan and Ava stand with each other, and where Boyd fits into all of this.

On Ava

From the beginning, Joelle liked the dual nature of Ava and said she was drawn to “the contradiction of her being a victim and yet being so bold to seduce a man right after shot her husband who had put her in a very trying and confined relationship for so long.” She saw it as an opportunity to play “a soft vulnerable character who also has a lot of strength to decide to live and try to figure out who she really is.”

While Ava has grown since the beginning of season one, she still has a lot left to learn. Joelle explained, “I think she’s still trying to discover, accept and trust the trust that’s inside her. When called out, it’s there-like a second instinct. She’s used to hard living, but she’s still trying to figure it all out, but she’s definitely come a long way since season one.”

Joelle enjoys watching Ava develop as much as the fans do. She said, “She doesn’t know where she’s going, but she is so complex we discover along the journey with her different things and it’s a lovely unveiling.” Of course, Ava’s growth doesn’t come easily or quickly and even Joelle doesn’t always know what she’ll do. “For her, it’s like when you put one foot forward and then take a half step back. She’s trying to go forward with some of it and she’s not sure about some of it. She’s as confused sometimes as I am as the actress.”

On Ava and Boyd

At the beginning of this season, fans–and Raylan–were surprised to learn that Boyd had moved in with Ava. When Joelle was asked how she felt about that development, she answered, “I think in the end Ava has to do what she has to do to survive and having Boyd live with her helps make ends meet and it’s opened her up to discovering who she is a little bit more. I think it was a good idea.”

Even more surprising than Boyd and Ava’s living arrangements is the fact that Ava is developing feelings for him. Joelle said showing the change in their relationship has been difficult. “You don’t see a lot of the relationship building and growing, and that was a big challenge for me because I would have these short scenes to show the audience that this is where these people are now and you can imagine with us that they’ve been cohabitating together and learning more about each other.”

The course of Ava and Boyd’s burgeoning relationship has not been and will not be smooth and for every step forward, there will be at least a half step back. “Just the idea of her going up to his bedroom because she’s a little bored and she knows he’s there and she’s starting to enjoy his company a little bit more. She calls him out like ‘It’s okay if we get to know each other a little better. I want to know more about you.’ Even on the porch he shares some stuff with her and I found that for Ava to be intriguing and just as they’re starting to be more comfortable, then bad guys come up.”

Ava has been clear about not wanting Boyd to bring any criminal activity back to her, but as we saw at the end of the “Cottonmouth” episode, it’s not so simple for her anymore. Joelle said, “When Boyd offers her the money with the cops coming-I think it’s interesting because Ava has a big heart and she loves the idea that anyone can change and in the beginning I think she wanted to take a chance on that with Boyd. As it’s progressing, they’re kind of falling for each other a little bit and she wants to help him out because of the feelings she’s having, but he brings in yet again another complication. I think that, for Ava, she has this long, long relationship with Boyd and he’s always kind of been in love with her. She really finds him interesting, intriguing, and exciting.”

When asked if Ava would keep Boyd out of trouble, Joelle laughed. “Well, have you tried to keep a man out of trouble? I’m not sure Ava can keep herself out of trouble.” Joelle then said that even though Boyd does spell trouble, he also is something Ava has been looking for. “Ava has had a certain kind of life where people run out on her. Where Winona knows kind of what she wants: a picture of her with Raylan at the end where he does a job 9-5. For Ava, though-she’s just looking for someone to love and who’s dedicated to her and will protect her. Boyd is a gentleman and he’s devoted to her so far. I think she wishes they could stay out of trouble.”

Joelle said that fans and Ava will learn more about why Boyd makes sense for Ava as the season progresses. “I think for her, like for the audience, Boyd is someone you think you know but then maybe you don’t know completely. I think what we’ll see as time goes along is that they know each other a lot better than they thought and maybe they’re the only two people who really can know each other the way they do.”

On Ava and Bowman

We didn’t get a chance to see Ava’s most significant relationship–her marriage to Bowman–since she shot and killed her abusive husband before we could meet him, so Joelle tried to fill in some blanks. “I’ve always had to do background work for Ava because there’s so much that hasn’t been revealed yet. I think Bowman was the only man she’s ever loved. Their relationship in the beginning was young, true love and unfortunately, things don’t turn out the way they expected. They were the couple that was going to get out and make it. He just deteriorated with alcohol and he became abusive. ”

The abuse led to a vicious cycle where Ava became trapped and after Bowman’s death, Ava saw Raylan as a kind of freedom. Joelle said, “There’s a scene in the first season where Ava says she did try to leave Bowman. I think she did love him and those relationships are complicated. You think you’re strong enough to do it and then you don’t. You come back and then they won’t let you go. She went through a lot in that one relationship and I think that’s why when she saw Raylan, she thought ‘Hey, that’s my ticket out.’ She had feelings for this guy and could go back to all those dreams she thought she wanted. ”

On Ava and Raylan According to Joelle, Ava’s relationship with Raylan in season one led to an epiphany of sorts. “She realized, ‘Maybe I need to figure out what my new dreams are because those old dreams aren’t going to work.'”

While Raylan and Ava are not on the best of terms this season, Joelle pointed out that in the first couple of scenes between them this season, Raylan is looking for Boyd and could have gone anywhere to find him, but he chose to visit Ava. She said, “I believe he wanted to see if Ava was okay and warn her and not let Boyd live with her. He also wanted to make sure it wasn’t that Ava was trying to punish him. I think a little bit she was. She knew he wouldn’t like it. It comes out in the end that he was making a choice not to be a part of her life. This is a woman who lives in the moment and she has to go on.”

Ava and Raylan’s relationship will remain complicated. Joelle explained, “I don’t think these two people hate each other. He may be disappointed in some of the choices she’s making. I think Ava really fell hard for Raylan, so she’s still got some scars that she has to deal with, but sometimes love and hate are really close together.”

In terms of Ava dealing with the number one woman in Raylan’s life, apparently she and Winona only share one scene together this season. Ava laughed, “There’s unspoken words.”

On Ava’s interaction with the Bennetts

Where last season Ava was in the thick of the “Big Bad” storyline, so far this season, she has not been involved with the deliciously evil Mags Bennett and her sons. When asked if Ava would be seen with the Bennett clan at some point, Joelle said, “There are a few scenes where a whole bunch of the gang gets together. I don’t get any one on one with any of the Bennetts until the very last episode. So you’ll have to wait for that.”

Justified airs on FX Wednesdays at 10pm eastern/9pm central.

You can read all our Justified coverage here.

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