JUSTIFIED, the widely-acclaimed series based on Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole,” is now in its third season on FX, Tuesdays at 10 PM. JUSTIFIED follows Timothy Olyphant’s character, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who reluctantly accepted a transfer back to his birthplace of Harlan County, Kentucky. Over the seasons, Raylan has grown even angrier at his criminal/con man father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), reconnected with his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) – the two are now expecting a baby together – and developed a mistrustful but sometimes mutually beneficial association with former friend Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), who is seeking to expand his illegal activities but sometimes saves Raylan’s life.
Graham Yost, who developed JUSTIFIED for television and serves as executive producer and show runner, talks about where the show has been, where it’s going and drops some spoilers about Raylan and Winona’s baby – and about Raylan’s crummy motel room.
ASSIGNMENT X: Is there a difference between a hero and a protagonist? And if there is, which is Raylan Givens?
GRAHAM YOST: I think there’s a little bit of Arlo in him, and I think that little bit of Arlo in him is what makes him more of a protagonist than a hero. He has these demons, he has this family history that lets him understand criminals perhaps better than other marshals would, but also it’s a bit of a burden. So he’s not just a pure as the driven snow hero. On the other hand, in the general TV landscape, especially the last ten years of antiheroes, Raylan is more of a hero.
AX: Raylan has great instincts much of the time. He did something very shrewd with a tablecloth earlier this season …
YOST: That scene was not written with the tablecloth initially. Tim [Olyphant, who is also one of JUSTIFIED’s producers] was sitting at home over the weekend and a friend was over. And I think he literally put a tablecloth on the table with something heavy on it and just looked at it. “What can we do that’s different?” and then came up with that. That’s just Raylan. And listen, I think since Homer – not Simpson, the other one – the hero is not always the biggest, the strongest, the fastest, not even the smartest. It’s the guy who is clever, as when Perseus figures out the trick of killing Medusa with the reflection. Because we’re writers, we’re schlubs in a room, we want to imagine, “Well, what could I do? What could I bring to it?” and it’s usually [a character] who’s trying to be clever.
AX: How do you decide on your seasonal villains, and how likely is it that any of them will survive from season to season?
YOST: Well, we always need people to kill on JUSTIFIED, and that’s a sad part of our weird fictional world. We don’t want to be locked into saying, “Oh, this is the bad guy of the year.” We did feel after Mags Bennett [Margo Martindale, who won a Supporting Actress Emmy for her performance] that we wanted to do that again this year, to satisfy people who enjoyed the bad guy of the year. And then we wanted to turn that around and make Neal McDonough’s character Quarles something absolutely different from Mags. For one thing, he’s male, and he’s from out of the area. But Limehouse, who T. [Mykelti Williamsonl plays, is not so easily pegged. Is he a bad guy, is he a good guy, is he somewhere in between? So that gave us something to play with. But we don’t know what Season Four, if there is a Season Four, will be.
AX: Neal McDonough and Mykelti Williamson were both on your series BOOMTOWN. Can you talk about the differences and similarities between BOOMTOWN and JUSTIFIED?
YOST: Well, BOOMTOWN wore its heart on its sleeve a lot more than this does. BOOMTOWN was a little more real. This exists in a fictionalized Kentucky crime marshals. I think that’s one of the differences.
AX: Is Raylan exasperated by Quarles, since Quarles is a big-city outsider stirring up trouble in Harlan? Raylan didn’t particularly want to come back to Harlan, but since he is in Harlan, he’s at least dealing with people he knows in Harlan, big-city crime without him being personally able to get away from his hometown, so it seems like this could be the worst of two worlds for him.
YOST: Well, in a way. The Quarles character is someone that everyone on the show can unite in their dislike for him. They all have a problem. And that’s fun.
AX: Will JUSTIFIED’s primary action ever go outside of Harlan County?
YOST: Every year, it’s like, “Oh, yeah, we just don’t have room.” At the end of the first season, we did go toSouthern California for one episode, and I love that episode, but a lot of people felt that it was not [in keeping with the show’s overall tone].
AX: Are we going to be seeing any more of Mags Bennett’s surviving son Dickie, played by Jeremy Davies, this season?
YOST: He plays a prominent role in the first four episodes. I don’t want to give it away, but I think he’s in a total of seven or eight episodes in this season.
AX: Last season, Raylan befriended Caitlyn Dever’s character Loretta, a young girl who was left orphaned by the Bennett clan. We’ve seen Loretta once so far this season. Will she be back?
YOST: I think Caitlyn is one of the unsung heroes of Season Two, although she got some singing. She did such a great job, she was really one of the anchors of the season last year. There is a scene between Raylan and Loretty, as we call her in the writers’ room – she’s not Loretta in the writers’ room, she’s Loretty – “How’s Loretty doing?” – and frankly, over the course of the series, we’d like to check in with her every now and again, just so we can have her back and say, “Caitlyn, how are you doing, are you maintaining a true and steady course?” And just sort of make sure that she stays true to her Harlan roots.
AX: Is having her back a scheduling issue, as Caitlyn Dever is now a series regular on LAST MAN STANDING?
YOST: It is a scheduling issue. She couldn’t ever be a big part of a season, but we could work it out with them to get her for a scene here and there, and I think she’s having a blast on LAST MAN STANDING.
AX: This season, you also had Carla Gugino on as a U.S. Marshal named Karen, who might or might not have been Karen Sisco, an Elmore Leonard character who Ms. Gugino played on a short-lived series. Will she be back?
YOST: No, she’s just in the second episode. She’s doing a play on Broadway now, THE ROAD TO MECCA. She’s doing a revival. So [the thinking at the time of filming was], if we want to have fun with Carla this year, we’ve got to do it now. And she is just a delight. And it’s a fun episode. She and Raylan get to kick some ass.
AX: Are you bringing in any other Elmore Leonard-associated actors on, like, say, Danny DeVito, who is on FX’s IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA?
YOST: No, but we had a fun thing. JUSTIFIED was being honored and [FX network president] John Landgraf was being honored, and Danny introduced John and we got to sit at the table with Danny, and he’s a big fan of the show and we were thinking the other way. We’re going to have Raylan stumble into the bar in IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. They would probably tie him up and cover him with butter or something.
AX: How far do you and the writers plan ahead? When do you start thinking about the next season
YOST: We do, and we think about that perhaps more in July and August when we’re planning the season in front of us. So we think, “Well, where could this lead us, so we don’t go tearing off down a blind alley and find, oh, we killed everyone off. Now they’re ghosts. And we can cross-meld with AMERICAN HORROR STORY.” So we do think about it, but once the season gets going, then that goes into the back of our minds. But now we’re breaking [the end of Season Three], we’ll start thinking about it again.
AX: What is the time frame on Season Three, because now Raylan and Winona are going to be parents, unless something really terrible happens.
YOST: I will tell you this right up front – something really terrible does not happen to that child. We are not going there.
AX: So how far along does Winona wind up in the pregnancy by the end of the season, or does Season Three cover nine months?
YOST: That gets back to his question about what are we going to do about Season Four. We have an idea for the end of Season Three that would relate to that – we’ll have to see where we go. JUSTIFIED is a slightly expanded time frame over, let’s say, LOST. They ran over six years but the main plot took place over three months or something, right? Which is why they had to get [the child character] Walt out of the show at the end of the first season, because they realized he was going to grow up and it would screw the timeline. There are times when we’re talking about things when we realize that really, from the pilot, only six months have gone by in the JUSTIFIED world. We might expand that a little bit at the end of Season Three.
AX: Would you say there’s a theme to this season?
YOST: You know I love my themes. Last year was feud and to boil it down this year would be crossing the line and what happens when you cross the line.
AX: How do you feel about the intensity of critical and popular love JUSTIFIED ha received?
YOST: It’s incredibly gratifying. The goal from the beginning was to do just an entertaining show. We wanted to do something that was fun. It’s our job to get people to tune in every week. I remember with certain shows that I’ve loved over the years that sense of, when you start watching a show, “What are these guys going to do this week?” And that’s what we want for our audience.
AX: Raylan and Winona have started house-hunting. Will Raylan be out of the motel by the end of this season?
YOST: I can guarantee that Raylan Givens will be out of that damn motel.
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Article Source: Assignment X
Article:Interview with JUSTIFIED Executive Producer Graham Yost on JUSTIFIED – Season 3