Emmys: On the Set of 'Justified' as the FX Drama Heads Into Its Final Season
This story first appeared in the June 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
"More 'at your wits' end!'" shouts director Adam Arkin from a packed "video village" to Justified star Timothy Olyphant, sitting on a couch 20 feet away in the U.S. Marshal's office. In character as Raylan Givens, Olyphant tries his line again, more visibly irritated: "If it doesn't have to do with beaches or sunny skies, there's nothing more for me to see."
It's a little past noon on a Thursday in late February when THR arrives at the series' Santa Clarita studio, in time to watch Deputy U.S. Marshal Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Vasquez (Rick Gomez) ask their favorite law enforcement agent to kill his longtime nemesis, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). The entire series has led to this critical moment in the season-five finale, which gives rise to a highly anticipated showdown set to play out during the sixth and final season.
At this point in Justified's run, few know their characters as intimately as does Olyphant, 46. Having lived with Raylan for a half-decade, he is as comfortable offering direction as taking it. As the 6-foot actor exchanges a plaid shirt for a black long-sleeved tee, he suggests to executive producer (and episode cowriter) Dave Andron a few tweaks to Raylan's attitude for tomorrow's scene. Exec producer Fred Golan welcomes Olyphant's input: "You'd be foolish not to listen to him."
The FX neo-Western, exec produced and run by Graham Yost (who rarely is on set) and based on Elmore Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole," hit a viewership high during its most recent season and has helped shape the network's rugged, male-skewing brand. The show took a substantial hit with Leonard's death during its 2013 summer hiatus. "It felt a little bit like a father died," says Golan before the crew packs up and drives 25 minutes west to a bridge in Piru, Calif., for a shoot that will go late into the night. As they prepare to pen Justified's final season, the writers feel an enormous responsibility to honor the author. Andron reminds everyone, "We're still playing around in Elmore's sandbox."