FX’s JUSTIFIED, based on characters created by revered novelist Elmore Leonard, wraps up its second season tonight, Wednesday, at 10 PM. Fans of Timothy Olyphant’s U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who copes with all sorts of complicated crime on his home Kentucky turf, can take solace that the hit series will be back for a third season (and probably more). Meanwhile, here’s what JUSTIFIED’s executive producer/adapter for television/show runner Graham Yost has to tell us about the show.
ASSIGNMENT X: What kinds of questions do you ask yourself when you’re gearing up to make a new season?
GRAHAM YOST: What’s a good spine for a season, what’s a good theme [for] the season? That sort of thing gives us the parameters and the direction.
AX: How challenging or difficult has it been for you and the writing staff to get Elmore Leonard’s voice?
YOST: It takes a while. I think that for me, one of the things that helped me was adapting the short story [“Fire in the Hole,” which served as the basis for the first episode], and I was literally using some of his dialogue and just retyping it, and just that process helped me become familiarized. I think that it was a process for all of the writers to get used to doing his stuff, and frankly, I think I had to do more work in the first season, corralling people, rewriting, massaging stuff to make it congruent with Elmore. This season, people just get it more, get it better.
AX: How did you come to cast Margo Martindale as Raylan’s Season Two nemesis Mags Bennett?
YOST: Our casting director suggested her, I looked at her audition and it was, that’s it. That’s Mags.
AX: Has Martindale lived up to your expectations?
YOST: See, that’s one of the things where just trusting to the experience that we see her work in the first episode. There’s a scene at the end with her and Chris Mulkey. We see that and we go, “Okay, we’ve got a season. Okay, let’s get us some more Margo.” And also Jeremy Davies. And Joe Lyle Taylor. And Brad Henke. The good bad guys. And when the actors are delivering like that, it’s just a joy to write those scenes.
AX: Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder is sort of the dark side of Raylan. That’s now woven into the fabric of JUSTIFIED, but originally, Boyd was going to die at the end of the first episode in Season One. Are you now going, “Oh, my God, if we had killed him, what would we do now?”
YOST: You know, you can’t ever look back like that, because we are where we are. I wouldn’t want to be writing in that alternate universe, let’s put it that way. I’m happy to be writing in our universe, where we have Boyd on the show. I think the show might have been okay without him – it wouldn’t have been as good.
AX: Do you ever see resolving, for want of a better word to put it, that Raylan is perceived as “a biter,” that is, a rule-breaker known to be a problem for his bosses?
YOST: That’s a big part of this season. And that has to do with Raylan and Art’s relationship and what happens, but I think Raylan makes a conscious effort to not be a biter in this season. There’s only so far he can go, and there are things that push him over the edge and then the gun comes out. And that’s us responding to our own feelings – we just didn’t want somebody shooting, but it’s also the reality of the Marshal Service. We can push it so far – we don’t want to completely [push it over the edge].
AX: Are there any events in the news that you have either incorporated or avoided? For example, if you had written something beforehand that turned out to be similar to what happened with the mass shootings in Arizona, would you change the script to avoid any similarities?
YOST: God, yes. I know networks have just canned stuff. I mean, Fox had a huge problem with the opening of 24 when it went on the air [because of the events of September 11, 2001]. “What are we going to do?” And they just went with it, and I think they made the smart choice, because people know that it’s very different. I think if you got anything too close to anything like [the Arizona mass murders], you would stop and reboot.
AX: Have you had any of those problems so far?
YOST: Not on this show. This show is too much of a crazy, weird fantasy world anyway, to a degree.
AX: You went to Kentucky for research and some filming on the pilot. Did that have an impact on you?
YOST: You know, it did have an impact. What we got from [the Kentucky locals] was that we were doing a good job, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t do a better job. Someone said, “Thank you so much for having no one say, ‘y’all’.” They appreciated not being [depicted as] a bunch of toothless, barefoot people scratching themselves. So to that degree, things haven’t changed, but it was more coming up with stories, finding music. Music plays a little more of a role this season. We’ve got a big party scene where there’s dancing. We wanted to capture a little bit more of the communal life, and that was something that we got.
AX: You have a shot of a beautiful creek in what looks like autumn. I know you shoot a lot of stuff in Southern California, but is that Southern California?
YOST: No, that’s not. We can’t shoot [first unit] in Kentucky, but we can send people to shoot in Kentucky for the promos.
AX: Or establishing shots?
YOST: Exactly. We generally don’t use establishing shots, but we do in the promos. That’s Kentucky.
AX: Are you working on anything else at the same time you’re working on JUSTIFIED?
YOST: No. I did work on FALLING SKIES between the two seasons, the Spielberg show for TNT. I worked on [FALLING SKIES] for three months.
AX: How was that?
YOST: It’s great. I think it’s a great show and Noah is just so good, so commanding. He’s just really good.
AX: Do you have a preference between naturalistic drama and alien invasion drama?
YOST: I like them both. The reason I worked on it is, I just always loved the idea of doing a resistance-against-aliens story, because it’s a way to do a war story, but you don’t have to do it in period, and it’s okay to shoot the bad guys, because they’re aliens [laughs]. So that just intrigued me and also just that sense of humanity in extremis – what do people do [in that situation]?
AX: When they brought you onto FALLING SKIES, did they know they only had you for three months?
YOST: Yes, that was my deal: get it started, get as many scripts out as we could, and then [go back to running JUSTIFIED].
AX: Do you see yourself working on JUSTIFIED for as long as it goes?
YOST: It’s just been so wonderful so far. So we’ll see.
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Click on Link: Executive Producer Graham Yost on JUSTIFIED – Season 2
Click on Link: Exclusive Interview with JUSTIFIED star Timothy Olyphant
Click on Link: Exclusive Interview with JUSTIFIED Big Bad Margo Martindale
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Executive Producer Graham Yost on JUSTIFIED – Season 2