'Justified's' Joelle Carter: Ava's got a gun

joelle-carter-justified-fx.jpgOn Wednesday (May 4), FX's Southern crime drama "Justified," based on characters created by novelist Elmore Leonard, ends its sophomore season with "Bloody Harlan," which may give viewers a clue what's waiting in the wings.

And if they can't guess, Joelle Carter, who plays widow (by virtue of manslaughter) Ava Crowder, says that last week's explosive episode will pale in comparison.

"It's even more epic than episode 12," she says of the finale, "so I'd really put those seat belts on and get ready for the ride."

Ava is a former Harlan County, Ky., cheerleader, and a longtime acquaintance of prodigal-son U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens ( Timothy Olyphant). But she didn't wind up with him -- he married, divorced and has apparently reconciled with the lovely court reporter Winona ( Natalie Zea) -- and instead wed Bowman Crowder.

He was the son of a local crime boss and brother to explosives-loving robber Boyd Crowder ( Walton Goggins), who also has a long past with Givens (they dug coal together).

But Bowman was abusive, and Ava put an end to him and her marriage with a shotgun. In the aftermath, she had a fling with Givens and ultimately pled guilty to manslaughter and avoided prison.

Earlier this season, she took in Boyd, whose attempts to shed his criminal nature have proven less than entirely successful. His troubles came to Ava's door, and that meant getting out the shotgun again.

"I like it," says Carter of the gunplay. "You know, acting is brilliant, because you get to live out all of these fantasies. If I brought up a shotgun in the real world, I don't know what the outcome would be."

But Carter plans to find out.

"I am going to [head to the shooting range] this summer," she says. "By having to do it in those two scenes, it was a little bit of a thrill. I would love to get into a shooting range. I talked to one of the line producers, and he's excited to take me.

"I want to see how good I am. I'm pretty good with the games in the arcades."

Most recently, Ava's caretaker relationship with Boyd has evolved into romance -- which appears to mean that Boyd isn't overly bothered that Ava killed his brother.

"I don't think Bowman was very well-liked at the time," says Carter. "I have this feeling that Boyd always was in love with Ava. So, it hasn't as strong a decision to make, to lean that way, but he tried to ignore his feelings a bit.

"Because of his lifestyle, he tried to distance her, but he couldn't, and he made the choice in the end, which I like."

Considering she married Bowman, had a fling with Raylan -- who, although being a lawman, has his lawless tendencies -- and has wound up with Boyd, it's not hard to figure out Ava's taste in men.

"Yes," says Carter, "there is a quality of man that definitely is attractive to Ava. Innately, she was the girl who was going to get out of town and have all the adventures in life, but in some ways, she's had a lot of them within the realm of Harlan County, because of the company she chooses to keep."

Asked whether she would pick Boyd or Raylan for Ava, Carter says, "Taking the journey she's taken, I guess, right now, I would say Boyd, for her heart. A long time ago, when Bowman was so abusive, Ava wasn't sure how long she was going to live, in a way, so she is living on borrowed time.

"She needs to make the most of every moment, and doing that means not being with someone who can't be available to her."

After all, Boyd may be a criminal, but at least he's not in love with somebody else.

"I know," says Carter, "and Raylan is. He's got it for the lady Winona."

Carter is on @Joelle_Carter on Twitter, and if you're logged in during the "Justified" finale, you just may meet each other in cyberspace.

"I'm going to do a live tweet," she says, "start in East Coast time for the finale, answer questions along the way."

But she's not leaving out the rest of the country, having tweeted on Monday, "The Justified final episode is bitter sweet ain't it? For my tweets I am going to do a live chat East and West Coast! Be here Wed. night. :)"
Photo/Video credit: FX