We were never going to have troubles filling a TCA press tour panel for FX’s “Justified,” which started its fifth season last week, but Tuesday’s (January 14) panel got an extra jolt when the network announced that next season will be the show’s last.
At his executive session, John Landgraf said that the decision to end “Justified” came entirely from producer Graham Yost and star Timothy Olyphant.
Let’s get down to the business of learning why…
1:19 p.m. The “Justified” panel begins with the news that there will be a January 21 tribute to Elmore Leonard at New Roads School featuring a number of “Justified” veterans.
1:23 p.m. [Spoiler if you don’t wanna know.] Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Loretta and she’s on tonight’s episode. This season, they’re looking to put Raylan in any context that would allow him to think on fatherhood, or play a paternal role. Producer-director Michael Dinner has worked with Michael Rapaport a lot of times and asked if he’d want to be involved with “Justified” and he said “Yes,” as you would. Yost explains that the Crowes stretch across many of Leonard’s books and they wanted to spend more time with Dewey this season, so they introduced more Crowes.
1:26 p.m. “Every episode we’ve tried to do as a tribute to Elmore Leonard, from the beginning of the season,” Yost says. Leonard died when they were still early in the writing on this season. They’d already brainstormed last week’s Florida/Detroit jaunt and thought Leonard would love that, but he died. The Harris Brothers appear in tonight’s episode and Timothy Olyphant knows Steve. “I don’t have Wood’s number. He’s f***ing crazy,” he says.
1:28 p.m. “I’ve been a fan of the show and this is the first time I’ve ever joined a show while it’s been going,” Rapaport says. Rapaport is also a part of Olyphant’s basketball circle, so they knew each other. He wanted to get outside of his comfort zone. “It was a great great great opportunity,” Rapaport says, adding that he felt comfortable with the accent. “Just the whole environment has really been a pleasure,” Rapaport says. He’s enjoying going to work. “For me at 43 years to be coming home and talking about work is not always the case,” he says.
1:30 p.m. Do Michael and or Jere Burns like comedy or drama more? “I love both. The fun thing about our show is it can get pretty funny. It’s really dark, but it’s also really funny,” Burns says. “It always comes down to the writing,” Burns says. Burns notes that he expected his character to die in the first season and he’s glad that he’s been kept around. “It’s easier to do bad comedy than it is to do bad drama. That’s my opinion,” Rapaport says.
1:32 p.m. “Rob Ford was not available,” Yost says for why he chose Dave Foley and Will Sasso to play the Canadian crime lords in the premiere. They briefly considered Dave Coulier, thinking he was Canadian. However… “He’s not! He just dated a Canadian!” Will Sasso will be back, Yost promises.
1:34 p.m. Time for the obligatory question about Sniper Marshal and Black Marshal and why they still haven’t been developed. “I’ll be honest with you, much to their chagrin, this isn’t a big season for Gutterson and Rachel,” Yost says. However, it will be a big season for Art. “Both Jacob and Erica are very patient. It’s not easy,” Yost says. However, he promises that the sixth season, “Everything will come down and we’ll have more time with Tim Gutterson and Rachel Brooks.”
1:36 p.m. A question about the late Elmore Leonard refers to him as the show’s “spiritual father” four or five times. “I love the man. He’s gonna be greatly missed. He is. I don’t feel it hanging over on the show. I feel blessed to be able to do the show and that he got a kick out of it. I feel lucky to have known the man,” Olyphant says. Goggins says that they keep a chair for Elmore Leonard next to the video monitor. He recalls walking past that chair this season and being hit by Leonard’s passing. Goggins says there was one day in particular where he was particularly tired and he chose to sit in Elmore’s chair. “It was very special. It was very comforting,” Goggins says. “It’s a big deal at the end of your life to say that you were part of a literary giant’s career,” Goggins adds.
1:39 p.m. Why end after Season 6? Why was that the magical number? “A lot of it was figuring out how much story we had left,” Yost says. He says it was a long conversation and there were financial reasons to keep going, but in terms of the story of Raylan in Kentucky, six seasons was the right time.
1:41 p.m. Joelle Carter says that Ava’s circumstances in prison for her to develop “a new self.” “If she’s going to be able to live with who she becomes is the big question,” Carter says. “Both these characters are going to be completely changed by the end of the season and so is their relationship,” Carter says of Boyd-and-Ava. “There’s a physical incarceration and then there’s a spiritual incarceration,” Goggins says, claiming that Ava’s in both and Boyd’s in the latter. “For me, these two people will forever be changed and while it may seem a familiar face, at the end of all this if we ever come back together, the touch will not be familiar at all,” Goggins says. “It’s going to get ugly before it gets smoother,” Goggins adds.
1:43 p.m. How has Art evolved as he’s gone along? “I think we’re entering a period where Art is just trying to minimize the damage to himself and to his colleagues in the office and to his reputation,” Nick Searcy says. Searcy hasn’t decided where he wants Art to end up.
1:44 p.m. “It appears he doesn’t have a f***ing clue,” Olyphant says of fatherhood for Raylan.
1:47 p.m. At Sepinwall’s urging, I ask Yost if they’ll be able to get Ian McShane onto the show for the final season as he’s said he wanted to in the past. “We’ve plummed a lot of the ‘Deadwood’ cast and Ian would be an incredible get, but we don’t have any plans,” Yost says.
1:48 p.m. “This season I’ve changed again. I see him differently than I’ve ever seen him before,” Goggins says of Boyd’s shift. Goggins says something happens in Episode 9 that he’s very excited to do. “I’m constantly having to broaden my definition of him so as not to leave any crumbs on the carpet,” Goggins says. He knows this may never happen again for him and that if it happens, it won’t be with the people on the stage.
That’s all, folks…