Walton Goggins didn’t just walk into the role of Lee Russell in HBO’s Vice Principals. Instead, it took him years to land the part. The series, co-created by Jody Hill and Goggins’ co-star Danny McBride, earned Goggins a best supporting actor Critics’ Choice Award. It wrapped its two-season run at the end of last year.

The dark comedy series centered on Neal Gamby (McBride), a prickly high school vice principal who teams with his rival Russell against the new principal who took the job they both wanted.

The Contenders Emmys 2018
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Goggins said Sunday during Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event that he always wanted to work with McBride, but it took a while to find the right project. “I actually went in and I auditioned for a role on Eastbound & Down,” Goggins said of McBride’s previous HBO series.

While Goggins didn’t get that part, he did make a lasting impression on McBride. “A couple of years later, I was doing The Hateful Eight and he reached out and said, ‘I have this role and I want you to do it.’”

Goggins said it was a project he won’t soon forget.

“It was bittersweet to say goodbye to it,” Goggins said. “It was an incredible experience.”