Five Fun Facts About ‘Justified: City Primeval’ on FX

Justified: City Primeval key art

Reboots are all the rage in Hollywood these days. But while some struggle to justify their existence beyond the tickle of nostalgia, a well-crafted reboot can add depth and dimension to their narrative universe. FX’s new limited series Justified: City Primeval is among the best reboots in recent years.


Picking up about a decade after the events of Justified, the new series finds Timothy Olyphant returning to the role of quick-witted lawman Raylan Givens. However, the setting and supporting characters are completely different. Givens is the only main character who returns from the original series, and instead of a southern setting, City Primeval takes place in the Motor City, Detroit, MI.

With Justified: City Primeval having passed the midpoint of its eight-episode season, here’s a look at five fun facts from the FX reboot. You can catch new episodes Tuesdays at 10pm ET on FX (channel 136 on DISH), or catch up on-demand. Not a DISH subscriber? Follow this link to find the right package for you!


Raylan’s kid is played by Timothy Olyphant’s real daughter.

Justified: City Primeval is a family affair, both on-screen and off. The plot of the new series kicks off when Raylan is forced to take a detour to Detroit after apprehending a criminal during a road trip with his daughter Willa. In real life, Willa is played by Olyphant’s own daughter, Vivian. Speaking with Collider, Timothy Olyphant said it the experience of working with his daughter was, “wonderful, in many, many, many ways,” adding, “to work with Vivian again, I’d sign up for that, any day.”


Boyd Holbrook was hesitant to join the show out of concern it was “making fun” of his southern roots.

Boyd Holbrook, perhaps best known as the sadistically cruel Donald Pierce in Logan, is excellent as the show’s antagonist Clement Mansell. However, before taking on the role, Holbrook recently told Interview magazine that he had concerns about the show given his personal relationship with its location.

“I was really timid to watch [Justified] because I am from Harlan County, a county over,” Holbrook said. “So I was always like, ‘Man, it’s kind of making fun of us hillbillies.’ I thought the show wouldn’t hit the tone right, but it’s great.”


The book the show is based on is not part of the Justified series.

Much of Raylan’s wit and charm can be attributed to the writing of Elmore Leonard, the novelist who created the character. After first appearing in the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap, Leonard brought the character back for the short story Fire in the Hole, which formed the basis of Justified.

But the novel that City Primeval is based on — 1980’s City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit — does not feature Raylan Givens. Instead, its protagonist is Raymond Cruz, a homicide detective. If that character’s name rings a bell, it could be because he was a minor character in the 1996 classic Out of Sight, where he was played by actor Paul Calderón. If you’ve seen up to episode 2 of City Primeval, you may have noticed that Calderón reprises this role in flashback, and he has an even bigger role in episode 5.


A major Hollywood director was nearly attached to City Primeval.

Many of Elmore Leonard’s novels were eventually adapted into movies and shows, including the aforementioned Out of Sight, Get Shorty, and Be Cool. However, in his only screenplay based on a novel, Quentin Tarantino adapted Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch into his 1997 Pulp Fiction follow-up, Jackie Brown.

Given his love for Leonard, it’s not surprising to learn that Tarantino was a big fan of the original Justified series. What is surprising is that Tarantino played a significant role in the development of City Primeval. According to co-showrunner Michael Dinner, the idea for the series was first hatched when Olyphant was discussing it with Tarantino while on the set of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In fact, Tarantino was even planning on directing an episode of the show until personal circumstances forced him off the project.


A third “chapter” could arrive eventually.

As detailed above, the origins of City Primeval were fully organic, so it’s doubtful that FX would pressure its creators to make another season just for the sake of it. However, according to Michael Dinner, there’s an appetite among the cast and crew to return to the character of Raylan Givens every so often. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Dinner described the original Justified story arc as, “the first act of this guy’s life. The story is you can’t go home again, but this is a different story. We pick him up about 10 years later, and there’s an existential story in these eight episodes. The road in front of him is a lot shorter than the road behind, and how do we deal with that? It’s something we’ll all deal with, you know?”

Dinner then adds that, “I do think there’s a third chapter, in success, if the audience comes to this.” It sounds like the next edition won’t be arriving any time soon, but assuming that Tarantino will be retired from directing features by that point, so at least we might be able to get his version of Justified.