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Timothy Olyphant

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The star of Hitman speaks


"You're catching me at home and I'm unemployed," says Timothy Olyphant down the phone from LA, where we catch him for what must be one of the only quiet days for him so far this year.

You've seen his face in some intriguing supporting roles, from a shady porn producer in 2004's Girl Next Door to John McLane's nemesis as rogue spook Gabriel in this year's Die Hard 4.0.

It's a string of good fortune that shows little signs of slowing down – most of us don't get to brag about hanging out with Bruce Willis when we're sitting at home out of work. The period of relative calm comes after the Eastern European shoot of Hitman, based on the stylish X-Box game, with Olyphant in the starring role as the titular assassin. But what's the appeal for a performing artist in playing the stereotypical cold, calculating killer that's more Terminator than Hamlet?

"You don't have to do too much for the character because it's his actions that define him," Olyphant agrees. "The fun of the job is trying to find other angles to look at instead of falling into the cliché. I always kind of looked at him as a travelling salesman, just going from one place to the next taking people out. There's a level of monotony to it like in any job."

Of course, the first thing you want to say to any actor who signs up for a video game adaptation is rattle off a short list of films based on video games, most of which have been spectacularly bad in both quality and box office performance. Did that ever give the upcoming star pause?

"When I first got a call I assumed 'crap'," he says. "But from what I've seen and read the game is really astonishing. It's very elegant and has an iconic character and the script put aside any concerns I had. If you hadn't told me it was based on a video game I wouldn't have guessed."

So with his star on the rise, we can only hope we're all as happy when we qualify for Centrelink payments. "There's a old saying about sex and pizza," Olyphant says, "When it's good its good and when it's bad it's still pretty good. I find that tends to apply to my job."

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