“It’s hard even when you know it’s coming, and we knew,” Justified showrunner Graham Yost told Deadline of Elmore Leonard‘s passing today. “Once he had the stroke – it was a left brain stroke, and he was really was non verbal after – we got an update every day or two on how it was looking. It was pretty clear that it wasn’t looking good.” Yost says plans are already underway to pay tribute to Leonard before the next season begins. “We’ll do something for the Season 4 DVD set, and I’m sure we’ll do something on the first episode of the new season.” Yost and his writers had already plotted to integrate more Leonard characters into the series’ upcoming fifth season. “Before he had his stroke we were thinking, you know, we’re headed to end of the series, we’ve maybe got two seasons left – so we wanted to bring in the Crowe family which is a big part of his world. We’ve got Dewey Crowe on the show but there are other Crowes that populated his books and we thought it would be fun to focus on that.”
Related: R.I.P. Elmore Leonard
Leonard had long been a strong supporter of the FX series which Yost developed and adapted from the author’s novels Pronto, Riding The Rap, and short story “Fire In The Hole”. An executive producer on the series, Leonard was inspired by the success of Justified to write a new 2012 novella, Raylan. “He thought being an executive producer he should contribute something, and he thought that was the best way to contribute. One story turned into three, and turned into his novel Raylan.” Just before his death Leonard had planned on writing another novel which he told Yost Raylan would appear in. “It’s sad that we won’t get to see that,” said Yost.
Yost on working with Leonard as he developed Justified around the character of Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens: “He wasn’t precious about his work but he was also very honest. The big joke between all of us was that he didn’t like Raylan’s hat. At first he had a different hat in mind. But he grew to accept it because he just loved Tim [Olyphant]’s performance.” In his writers room Yost handed out “WWED” bracelets to reinforce his commitment to preserving the spirit of Leonard’s text. “What Would Elmore Do? He got a kick out of that when he heard about that. He asked if we could send a few of those to his family. Elmore’s Ten Rules of Good Writing, the number 1 rule is leave out the parts that people skip over. Just that alone – bring it down, make it faster, funnier, or smarter – is something I try to take to heart.”
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