Justified, FX channel, is my favorite TV show. It satisfies a simple prejudice: I have long loved the writing of the brilliantElmore Leonard. The show’s protagonist, Raylan Givens, was created by Leonard.
You got to know Leonard fairly well before he passed away, right? Do you feel like spending a lot of time with him helped you get a sense of who Raylan was?
All the good things about Raylan — they came directly from Elmore. You mentioned the old-fashioned manners and the stoic hero thing, but the thing about Raylan that people really responded to, if I had to guess, was that he seemed effortlessly cool. And that’s Elmore Leonard to a tee. The guy was genuinely cool. It was never a pose with him. You can go into any party or public gathering, and you’ll see lots of people trying to act cool, and then there’s always one person off in the corner, not doing much, who’s the real deal. That was Elmore. (Rolling Stone interview with Timothy Olyphant)
Leonard was so tickled by Olyphant’s characterization, and they became friends, he revived his own character for a fourth story.
The show is very violent. It also is sweet too. It often is very funny. It features as a supporting co-star, maybe among the handful of this generation’s greatest tv character actors, Walton Coggins. He plays the villainous foil to Olyphant’s US Marshall, Raylan Givens. The show benefits from its terrific consistency of writing and acting. Those two strengths have even carried it through entire streaks of plotting miscues.
Timothy Olyphant is either famously charming, or, as Natalie Zea, Raylan’s estranged wife on Justified, has blurted out, “a dick.”