‘Justified: City Primeval’ showrunners explain why Raylan Givens is back: ‘We thought we were done’
In the seven years since Deputy U.S. was created, a lot has happened. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy OlyphantHarlan was left behind after Harlan’s final showdown. Justified Finale of series. And when the fan-favorite lawyer returns in FX’s highly-anticipated new revival series, Justified: City PrimevalHe’s not only a new man but he’s also been brought to a different city and will face a formidable opponent, one that is more difficult than his former foe Boyd Crowder. (Walton Goggins).
Fans of the original series may find it difficult to accept all that “new,” but it was what motivated the showrunners to return to the world of Justified. Michael Dinner tells EW, “We’re glad that we could do it.”
“It’s very, extremely new. It’s not quite the same. JustifiedDave Andron agrees. “Only people who have read the book may have an idea. But I think people who haven’t, or who expect the same old thing, will be very surprised.”
The revival begins 10 years after the end of the original series. Givens has moved to Miami to balance his U.S. life. Marshal and part time father to a 15-year old girl (played here by Olyphant’s real daughter, Vivian). Givens will meet a violent, sociopathic desperado in Detroit after a chance encounter. He’s already been through the hands of Detroit’s best once and hopes to do so again. In classic Elmore Leonard fashion, these three characters embark on a collision course to see who emerges victorious.City Primevalalive.
Below, the showrunners discuss what fans can expect from this revival series.
Justified: City Primeval
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Why did you want a return to this world with new ideas? Justified Do you want to continue the series after the original ended?
DAVE ANDRON: We wanted to make sure that we did it right. It was a great ending. We did it so well.
MICHAEL DINNER We thought we had done it right, and that was all we needed to do. We thought we had it all. But some series don’t allow you to ride it into the sunset. You don’t feel complete and you regret that you didn’t finish it the right way. We thought we did. We didn’t intend to go back in the water. But, there was this book. City Primeval This is Elmore Leonard’s crown jewel. It was his first Detroit crime novel, and it helped him become the most prominent writer of American crime fiction.
Many people wanted to write this book. It was almost made by [Sam] Peckinpah was a movie star years ago. [Quentin] Tarantino wanted it to be a movie and many people wanted to watch it on television, streaming, or cable. It was a great experience. JustifiedElmore’s son approached me years later about making it its own thing. I loved the book from childhood, and we would always refer to it when we were in the writers room on the original series. So that was my intention: It would be its own thing.
The phone rang one day and Tim Olyphant answered. He said, “I was sitting on the set with Quentin, we were talking about this novel.” City Primeval. It would make a great Year of Justified.” We started to play with the idea and FX was interested. It was difficult to put together due to the complicated rights situation. Part of the rights belonged the estate, while part belonged MGM. MGM was going to make the movie several times. It took us a while to get it moving, but eventually we got it going.
We had a great time on this show for seven years. So the real idea was to do a long movie, or a limited series. That’s not trying to go back in the past. JustifiedBut to make a mashup of this book and the character we loved. We didn’t want to go back to the past. Instead, we looked at the character as if there were three chapters to his life. This is the second chapter. We launched him into this story and Dave and me like to say that the road ahead of him is much shorter than the one behind. He is at a crossroads in his life. Can he survive in a new world? He’s changed as an individual and the world has changed sociologically and politically. That’s where we find him.
ANDRON: Dinner stated that it is a completely different world now, especially in the realm of law enforcement. We had this amazing piece of source material that a lot people were excited about. We all missed Elmore’s world, the tone, but we didn’t want to do anything other than to bring the band back together. Raylan can be brought into the present moment by saying something different about himself. We came up with a way to do it, and decided that this idea was worth pursuing.
How will this new series compare to the original?
DINNER: It feels very similar to the show we did but feels completely different. It’s great to do Elmore’s stuff because you don’t see the joke coming. You don’t see violence coming. Sometimes, emotion sneaks up on us. It’s surprising. It feels like a grown-up version. It feels both familiar, yet different. [has] All these characters feel part of this universe.
Please tell me more about how this character and the series were brought into the present. Because, as you stated, entertainment law enforcement has changed dramatically. How did you adapt the tone and characters to make the series more relevant to today’s society since the original run ended seven year ago?
ANDRON: The most important thing [is] It’s not that the world and law enforcement is different. It’s just that the public now knows what’s been happening for a long period of time. Raylan has had a very specific code throughout his life. Raylan was very careful about following a code of conduct and avoiding gun violence. We wanted to bring Raylan into the moment so that he could understand the bigger picture and what he was doing.
DINNER: Elmore also created characters that were not what they were but who they are. Even the antagonists were well-developed characters. It’s all about the core of the characters. Elmore’s world is a big place when our characters move an inch. As Dave stated, there is more awareness. It’s not that the world has changed but we are more aware of it.
Timothy Olyphant, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, Walton Goggins playing Boyd Crowder in “Justified”
| Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Raylan and Boyd’s dynamic, and their complex relationship, were so important for the original run’s success. Are we going to see Boyd again this season? If not, who will take his place?
ANDRON: Those are tough shoes to fill. This story will be about Raylan, his past and how he is trying to move forward. We had to create a new foil and someone who is a bit of a mirror but also a big obstacle for Raylan. We had a template from Elmore to help us get started. The book was published in the ’80s and was written in late ’70s. We had to bring that character into the modern era. It was really hard to find the great bad guy. Boyd Holbrook was kind enough to play Clement Mansell. This is, for those who love Elmore’s crime fiction, one his best bad guys and possibly his worst bad guy.
DINNER: He’s a great foil and in some ways, even more dangerous. Boyd Crowder was born to Raylan Givens. They grew up together in coal mining, so they have a commonality and understand each other. That’s the essence of the show. Clement Mansell is so unpredictable. This is at a time Raylan is seven years older than Raylan. Clement Mansell, the villain in this story, doesn’t seem to know what he does. This makes him extremely dangerous. It’s a formidable antagonist for our protagonist.
Is there any chance we will see any familiar faces in this series as well?
ANDRON: While some characters from the past do occasionally show up, it’s something that the audience will have to accept: It is a new cast. It’s a whole new group of cops around him. It’s Detroit cops, not Kentucky marshals, and it’s a Raylan story all by itself, with some old friends sprinkled in.
DINNER: This story is a three-hander. It’s about Raylan, Clement Mansell and Carolyn Wilder, a woman defense attorney. In some ways, she is kind of locked at her ankles and wrists by Clement Mansell. The fourth character is Detroit. Raylan is a little fish out of water. He doesn’t know as much about Detroit as he does where he grew-up in Kentucky or Miami. This is the core of the story. Any other characters are just an organic part of the storytelling.
ANDRON: I thought you were going say that the fourth character was Raylan’s daughter. In real life, she is also Tim Olyphant’s daughter. It’s pretty funny.
How did he get his real daughter to play the role of his onscreen daughter. Is that the plan all along?
ANDRON: No. We were actually horrified when Tim said, “I’m going put my daughter on tape to play the role of my girl.” We were like, “This can’t be done.” This is absolutely brutal. What are we going do if it’s not okay? She was amazing. It was great fun. It took her eight minutes to say “Dad, please stop.” Don’t give me notes. Don’t tell my what to do.”
DINNER: They each brought their own baggage, which was a good thing and was fun to watch. She would poll the crew to find their favorite Olyphant.
Who will win?
DINNER: That’s classified.
Justified: City PrimevalFX will premiere the series in summer 2023
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