If you’re a big fan of Justified, and you have zero reason not to be, you might be interested in Graham Yost’s Nerdist podcast, in which he talks about the writing room of Justified, as well as some of the decisions that went into The Americans, which he’s an executive producer on. The most fascinating tidbit, however, was in the discussions surrounding the central Justified season four mystery: The identity of Drew Thompson. Spoilers ahead, of course.
Drew Thompson was there from the beginning, but according to Graham Yost, they didn’t initially know who he would be … “that was something that just appeared to us,” Yost says. It was actually our old friend VJ Boyd — who Yost calls “Storytron 6000″ — who did the research so that all the dots would line up to make Shelby believable as Drew Thompson. “When it made sense, the right age, the slimness of the detail we provided that it all fit. So, when it landed, it landed pretty solid.”
At first, however, the whole plan was that it would be one of the Clover Hill guys, like Lee Paxton or Frank Browning. They were initially leaning hard toward Paxton, “in fact, we called him Lee Paxton cause at one point we were thinking of trying to get Bill Paxton onto the show and he’d end up being” Drew.
“We played with that for a long time,” Yost said, and then they eliminated another choice:
“And then there for a while when it was going to be Josiah (Gerald McRaney). I was pushing hard for that, and we thought about that for a while, then we realized we had to chop off his foot. And if we chopped off his foot, that would negate him as an active part of the story. But we did research on how fast someone with a prosthetic could be walking. How fast could someone move on crutches? We were stumped. We were thinking this is going to be a green screen nightmare. We went through all of that, and then landed on Shelby, and it just answered all the questions.”
That’s fascinating in that they didn’t have a guy lined up from the very beginning, which is to say: They didn’t elevate Jim Beaver to Sheriff in season three with an eye toward the Drew Thompson story. Instead, they took the details surrounding Drew Thompson and found the character that best fit them. It’s one of those things where its initially disappointing to find out that a mystery wasn’t mapped out from the beginning, but it’s all the more impressive that the writers were able to make it feel like it was.
I want more like this!
Follow us on Facebook and get the latest before everyone else.