Well it looks like someone got out of Harlan alive, because the cast and producers of FX's critically acclaimed drama Justified, including stars Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins, appeared at Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour today to discuss the series' new season, which premiered last week. I've compiled some of the highlights from the panel, including a great picture of Walton Goggins' v-neck (the really important stuff) for you.
On the passing of Elmore Leonard (who wrote Fire in the Hole, the short story on which Justified is based) this past summer and how it's affected filming Season 5:
"I think we'd all agree, every episode we've tried to do is a tribute to Elmore Leonard," said creator Graham Yost. Goggins, who stars as Boyd Crowder—a character who died in Leonard's orginial story—described what starring in the series means to him. "It's a big deal, at the end of your life, to say that you were part of a literary giant's career." But Olyphant doesn't feel as if his passing is hanging over the series. If anything, he feels blessed to be able to do the show and that Leonard got a kick out of it.
Goggins recalled a story about the empty seat they've left for Leonard in front of the monitors on set. "It hasn't kind of been there in that way in prior seasons. The very first day I was working... I remember kind of walking past and seeing it, and it kind of hit me as if I [had] walked through a glass door." During a particularly tough day on set, he sat in the chair. "It was very special, very comforting."
On Raylan's journey into parenthood in Season 5:
According to Yost, Kaitlyn Dever's Loretta McCready, who first appeared in Season 2, is back in tonight's episode because the writers wanted to put Raylan "into a context that makes him think about parenthood." When asked about Raylan's future as a parent, Olyphant joked, "It appears he doesnt have a f-----g clue. He seems a bit lost in that department."
On Boyd and Ava's relationship this season:
Harlan's most powerful couple is going to have a tough go of it this season with Ava in jail. Joelle Carter said she's enjoying having her own storyline, but both Ava and Boyd won't be the same after this season. "The journey up to now has been [an] exploration of self, and she's put in such dire circumstance in prison that she has to kind of develop a new self... Who she becomes is the big question—if she survives it. If she gets out of jail. If she meets back up with Boyd." According to Goggins, "It's going to get uglier before it gets smoother."
On Boyd's personal journey, and what he means to Goggins:
"As an actor, I've changed quite a bit since playing Boyd... This season I've changed again. I see him diferently than I've ever seen him before." When discussing a future episode, he described what it's like to play Boyd. "He's such a wild animal for me. He's cool in ways that I could never be. I'm constantly having to broaden my definition of him so as to not leave any crumbs on the carpet."
On the decision to make the Crowe family the focus of Season 5:
The decision was made based on the fact that everyone at Justified loves Damon Herriman, who plays Dewey Crowe. "We love Dewey, and we just thought this season would be fun to spend more time with [him]," said Yost. The discussion became about what kind of story or problem could make that happen, and "more Crowes" became the simple answer.
Michael Rapaport's casting as Darryl Crowe was executive producer Michael Dinner's idea. "Michael is a perfect fit," he said. "It's the first time I've ever joined a show while it's been going," Rapaport said. "Every actor wants to do different things, and to get to something outside of [their] comfort zone, it was a great, great, great opportunity [for me]."
On the caliber of talented guest-stars on Justified:
Now that the series is in its fifth season, the producers aren't having any difficulty in finding actors who want to join the series, but they admitted that they tend to go for actors who have experience in comedy because "it tends to work out better for us." Last season saw the addition of Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob, and David Koechner appeared in the Season 5 premiere.
Jere Burns, who's been playing criminal Wynn Duffy since Season 1, never expected the character to live past Season 2, but now he's a series regular. "I love dark and funny," he said, "but it really usually comes down to the writing... If the writing's good, that's it for me."
As for the new faces this season: Olyphant used to play ball with Steve Harris, who played one of the men in Detroit, and he asked Steve to contact his brother, Wood (also known as The Wire's Avon Barksdale). [I] asked him to reach out to Wood. I don't have Wood's number; He's f-----g crazy," joked Olyphant. They will both reappear later this season.
As for the character played by Dave Foley in the season premiere, it was originally created with Dave Coulier in mind, until Yost realized he's not actually Canadian. Then the role was going to be played by Tom Green, but his scheduling fell through and Foley was able to step in because his schedule had opened up. (Let's all agree that Foley is a much, much better choice to play a Canadian gangster.)
On what's next for Tim, Rachel, and Art:
Unfortunately, Tim and Rachel will not be seeing a lot of extended screen time this season after both having more to do in Season 4. But Yost says there are plans for Art to have more of an arc this year. "This year we're focusing more on he office, on Art. It's a big season for Art." But for fans of Jacob Pitts' and Erica Tazel's marshals, there's a reason you don't see them as much. "When we give these parts to a guest star coming on, usually they die, and we don't want to kill off Tim or Rachel." That being said, the writers are planning to spend more time with both Tim and Rachel in Season 6 now that it's slated to be the series' last.
On the series ending after Season 6:
Despite possible financial incentives to keep the series going, Yost said that six seasons of Raylan in Kentucky "felt about right." He had several lengthy conversations with Olyphant, who's also a producer on the series, and the end result was that Season 6 felt like a good ending. "Our biggest concern in telling these stories is that we don't run out of stories and start repeating ourselves."
On whether or not we'll ever see Ian McShane in Harlan:
According to Yost: "We've plummed a lot of the Deadwood cast, and Ian would be an incredible get, but we don't have anything in the plans."
AIRED ON 4/14/2015
Season 6 : Episode 13