Timothy Olyphant Says the ‘Deadwood’ Movie Helped ‘Nudge’ Another ‘Justified’ — and He Wants More

Timothy Olyphant isn’t hanging up his hat anytime soon. The star and executive producer of “Justified: City Primeval” took the stage after the series premiered at this year’s ATX Television Festival and told a rowdy crowd he would happily return for more seasons.

“Look, I’d show up,” Olyphant said when asked if he would be open to returning as Raylan Givens. “Every time we’ve done this, I’ve had a good time. So I’d show up.”

Earlier in the post-screening Q&A, Olyphant was asked if he felt any trepidation about returning to beloved roles like Raylan in “Justified” and Seth Bullock in “Deadwood.”

“No more than I’d feel about any great part or any great opportunity,” he said. “As far as ‘Deadwood’ versus [‘Justified’], I never thought ‘Deadwood’ would happen. I didn’t honestly quite think I wanted it to happen, and it was such a lovely experience. Perhaps it nudged [‘Justified: City Primeval’].”

“I stay in touch with a lot of the folks on this show,” he continued. “I stay in touch with the writers. We always talk about wanting to do it. I just love them. I love the collaboration. I look forward to the opportunity to be in the room with them. They don’t necessarily look forward to the opportunity to meet me in a room, but I love it. I would do it again and again.”

To kick off the panel, producer Sarah Timberman read a statement from co-showrunners Michael Dinner and Dave Andron, who were in the Paramount Theater but did not take part in the panel or related interviews in support of the series.

“‘City Primeval’ is a work of love,” Timberman said, on behalf of the writers. “We got back together with people we dig, working in the writers’ room. We got to be with Raylan in the next phase of his life. We got to play in Elmore Leonard’s universe again. But because of the standoff in negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP, we cannot be with you to honor the actors and collaborators who are our dance partners. We are members and supporters of the WGA. The members deserve a new contract and a fair deal, as do the members of the DGA and SAG. We look forward to the near future when these issues will be resolved.”

Soon after, Olyphant voiced his support for the WGA strike and the “Justified” writers specifically.

“I want to shout-out to our writers,” Olyphant said. “I hope those fuckers get everything they’re asking for. I was just [watching this screening] and counting laughs. The writers did that for me. They gave me all those laughs. There’s heart there, a lot of great stuff, and none of it would exist without a writer. If you say to a chat thing, ‘Write Season 9,’ it’ll suck.”

“Justified: City Primeval” played to big reactions in Austin. Olyphant said he hopes “everybody watches the same show you guys watch,” meaning if audiences at home respond as well as the crowd at ATX, FX will have another hit on its hands.

The new series — set to premiere July 18 — picks up 15 years after the events of “Justified,” when U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is drawn out of his Florida home once more, this time by a series of events that lead him to Detroit, along with his daughter, Willa (played by Olyphant’s real-life daughter, Vivian Olyphant). Waiting there is Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook), a carjacker and killer known as the Oklahoma Wildman, who quickly gets under Raylan’s skin. Adapted from Elmore Leonard’s 1980 novel “City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit,” the series explores whether an aging lawman can still get the job done his way in ever-changing, ever-more-dangerous times.

“I’m in awe of the writers who make this show,” Timberman said. “People are asking us, ‘Why bring it back?’ But this was a group of people who loved each other so much while making it, like, why not bring it back?”

While most of the cast made sure to watch or re-watch “Justified” before taking on “City Primeval,” there was one notable exception.

“I’ve still never seen the show,” Vivian Olyphant said.

“Let me explain,” she said. “We never watched my dad work, my siblings and I, because it’s kind of strange. […] I love my dad, but I’m not that interested [in his work].”

To land the part, Olyphant insisted his daughter audition along with everyone else. Timberman said they saw about 40 different actors, but the choice was clear.

“I promise you,” Timberman said. “There wasn’t even a question. It was really obvious to all of us she was the right call. […] She won it. She was great.”

“She always wanted to [act],” Olyphant said. “We just never let her. […] I told Sarah and the other producers that we wouldn’t have brought it up if we didn’t think she could handle it. Just the audition process with her was a joy and a pleasure. She worked super hard, and it was really fun. Working with her on the audition, I thought to myself, ‘This would be a fun person to work with.’ Then I said I wouldn’t say anything more, and I’d let them take it from there.”

“I always wondered what my dad did all day,” Vivian Olyphant said. “It was interesting to see he’s getting paid to be a child.”

“She’s not wrong,” Timothy Olyphant said. “That is part of the lure of the job.”

That — and the cowboy hat.

“Justified: City Primeval” premiered at the 2023 ATX Television Festival. It debuts July 18 on FX and will be available to stream the next day on Hulu.

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