Elmore Leonard Remembered by 'Justified' Showrunner Graham Yost


The writer-producer of the hit adaptation about a U.S. Marshall in Kentucky recalls the author's favorite adaptations, his set visits and what he thought of star Timothy Olyphant's cowboy hat.

Celebrated crime novelist Elmore Leonard who was honored with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in November, died August 20 at 87.

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The long-time Detroit resident was beloved by Hollywood for his natural dialogue and vivid characters. More than twenty of his forty-five novels and numerous short stories were adapted for film and television, including FX’s Justified, based on Leonard’s character Raylan Givens.  


Justified showrunner Graham Yost remembers Leonard:

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"He gave no notes. But he really didn’t like the hat on Tim Olyphant. He had a different hat in mind for Raylan. But he grew to love Tim, and he said this was perhaps the best embodiment of one of his characters. He understood that the hat fit his head.

Elmore loved movies. He loved going to movies and thinking about them. So he got a kick out of the adaptations of his work — if they worked well. He was open about what he liked and didn’t. He said the adaptation of The Big Bounce was the worst film ever made until he saw the remake, and then he said, “That’s the worst film ever made.” He loved Get Shorty and Out of Sight. I think Jackie Brown was maybe his favorite.

He could have had a career as a screenwriter if he wanted one and made perhaps even more money than he did, but he loved living where he lived and liked having the autonomy of creating his own world.

We knew he got a kick out of our show. He came out and visited and we took him into the editing room.

In the first season, there’s a scene between Raylan’s ex-wife and his love interest on a bench in the courthouse. He said, “That’s a great scene. I love the way those women talk together.”

There was a little extra bounce in my step that day."