Fans of the FX series Justified were fortunate enough to get six prodigious seasons of one of the best neo-Westerns ever put on television from 2010-2015. The show’s critical success was in no small part due to the stellar supporting cast throughout its run. Fans not only gravitated towards Timothy Olyphant’s Kentucky-fried charm as the no-nonsense Raylan Givens, but found a connection with the men and women Raylan worked with, the women he loved, and the larger-than-life outlaws he came across.
It will surprise many to hear that Justified: City Primeval barely even mentions Kentucky, or the characters that were a part of Raylan’s life for those six years. Kentucky is far behind Raylan, and that includes his long term fraternal-nemesis, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) who isn’t a part of this limited series. There is no mention of Art (Nick Searcy), Tim (Jacob Pitts) or Rachel (Erica Tazel) as that part of Raylan’s career ended more than a decade ago, and he seems to have settled into his life in Miami trying to be there for his now teenage daughter.
In fact, the Elmore Leonard novel City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit was not even originally a Raylan Givens story. It was written 13 years before the character that would be made famous by Olyphant debuted in Elmore’s novel Pronto. When FX decided it was time for a reboot in the form of this limited series, they chose to make it a Givens story. That means almost all of the characters within City Primeval have no connection to the other Elmore Leonard novels starring the infamous lawman.
Before the new limited series debuts, allow Den of Geek to introduce you to Raylan’s newest colleagues, allies and rogues that make Detroit and this story the primeval city that’s been promised.
Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens
Raylan is the same old Deputy U.S. Marshal he was in the years fans got to love him in Justified, and while some might think he’s a little bit older, and a little bit wiser, that would only be the half truth. The story picks up over a decade after the last time Raylan was seen on screen, he is stationed in Miami, trying to be a father to his now teenaged daughter. But of course his sense of duty and his sarcasm quickly gets him into a situation where he becomes the focus of a narcissistic judge out to teach Raylan a lesson. Shortly after, Raylan finds himself investigating murder, extortion, and a chaotic convict who just might be Raylan’s match.
If you’re reading this piece, it might be a given to assume you’ve watched Olyphant in the original Justified series. In the time that show has been off the air, Olyphant was a part of the Netflix zombie-farce Santa Clarita Diet, showing off his comedic chops for three seasons, playing a key role in the fourth season of the critically acclaimed Fargo series, as well as a recurring character in the mythos of The Mandalorian.
Vivian Olyphant as Willa Givens
Art imitates life in this casting choice, as Vivian (Timothy’s real life daughter) plays the teenage version of Willa, who audiences last saw as a four-year-old living in Miami with both Raylan and Winona being steady examples of co-parenting. Clearly something has happened in the past decade to make Willa as strong willed as her mother, but as stubborn and jaded as her father. Willa seems to have a propensity for getting into trouble, as the complicated nature of Givens’ children and their fathers seems to be repeating itself.
This is Vivian’s big break, undoubtedly in no small part thanks to her father. Otherwise she has yet to cut her teeth in the acting world, and will have quite a challenge jumping into a highly anticipated project such as this.
Boyd Holbrook as Clement Mansell
Hollbrook’s Mansell, who featured in the original City Primeval novel is described as the “Oklahoma Wildman,” and is a great fit for Holbrook who has played southern antagonists before, typically to great success.
Mansell’s chaotic energy is a perfect match for Raylan, and when the two begin to cross paths, it is easy to tell they are two sides to the same coin. Neither man listens to reason all that often, both are people you don’t want to mess with, but more importantly, the two men foster a deep obsession with each other very quickly, which means there will be tons of collateral damage surrounding their rivalry.
This past year has arguably been the year of Holbrook, as the character actor has been in a few much-talked-about projects in the last year. He played the American-Nazi psycho stooge Klaber in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, reuniting him with his Logan director James Mangold. Last summer, he stole the show in Netflix’s The Sandman as the charming Corinthian, so much so that it would be difficult to picture the show without him if it is to return.
Vondie Curtis-Hall as Sweetie
Sweetie, a Detroit underground legend on his own, is seemingly the most connected man in the Motor City. He owns a local dive bar, but in his advanced years has learned to keep his nose down to avoid too much trouble, while keeping his eyes up to look for opportunity and advancement.
Sweetie and Mansell have a complicated past, and while they are seemingly bonded because of that violent path, they are uneasy allies at best. When Mansell blows back into town, Sweetie reluctantly helps him, but may still have his own hand to play eventually to get control of the Oklahoma Wildman.
A veteran of the silver and small screen, Curtis-Hall has been working in the television and film industry since the late ‘80s. Best known for his role as Dr. Dennis Hancock in over 100 episodes of Chicago Hope, Curtis-Hall has been in massive blockbusters such as Die Hard 2, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and in recent streaming successes such as Daredevil as reporter Ben Urich.
Aunjanue Ellis as Carolyn Wilder
Wilder could not be more aptly named, as she is a wild-card in this entire story. She and Raylan first cross paths as she represents one of the criminals that brought Marshal Givens to Detroit in the first place, and Raylan notices that she is an excellent defense attorney, but for all the wrong people. She has a very close relationship with Sweetie, and a good head on her shoulders, but Raylan can’t figure out why such an intelligent woman represents some truly awful people.
The two develop an uneasy relationship, as mistrust is everywhere in this story, and it remains to be seen if Wilder can handle her own as she so adamantly claims, if she’ll get herself in too deep, or if she is friend or foe to Raylan.
While Ellis’ filmography is as impressive as any of her co-stars with featured roles in Ray, The Help and If Beale Street Could Talk, it was her Oscar-nominated role as Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams in King Richard that gained her quite a bit of notoriety. She has also recently planted herself as one of the most sought after television actors in the past decade. Her work over three seasons as Miranda Shaw in Quantico brought her into millions of homes across the world, and she continued her fine television work as Hippolyta Freeman in Lovecraft Country, where she garnered an Emmy Nomination.
Adelaide Clemens as Sandy Stanton
Sandy Stanton rounds out the little cavalcade of Detroit area-criminals, as she and Mansell have a romantic relationship and originally are only in town to make a little money and grift an Albanian gangster. Like most people in this story, Sandy quickly bites off more than she can chew, and gets caught up in more than she bargained for with the Wildman often making things worse.
While Stanton may not yet be a household name, she has certainly appeared in some well known films. Stanton has smaller roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the Great Gatsby, but is probably best known as Heather in the sequel to the horror video game adaptation, Silent Hill: Revelation.
Marin Ireland as Maureen Downey
Downey is another ally to Raylan in the search for Mansell and the end to all the violence and chaos that surrounds him. As yet another member of the Detroit Police Department, Downey has a foul mouth, but a steady temper, and a much better head on her shoulder compared to some of her colleagues within the department.
Ireland has made a career of playing down to earth, relatable characters, and while she continues that in City Primeval, audiences will undoubtedly recognize her from Sneaky Pete as the equally relatable Julia Bowman in the shows’ three-season run. Throughout her television career, she has featured in Homeland, Boss, and The Umbrella Academy, as well as working with such massive filmmakers as Martin Scorsese in The Irishman and Taylor Sheridan in Hell or High Water.
Victor Williams as Wendell Robinson
Robinson is the first detective Raylan meets when in Detroit, and the two are partnered up in order to solve the first tidbit of a mystery that surrounds this story. Robinson is a savvy veteran who Raylan seems to get along with fairly easily, no doubt because of their similar sense of sarcasm. Robinson, as the most seasoned cop working this case, is Raylan’s go-to storyteller when he needs to learn about the seedy and encyclopedic history of Detroit.
Much like his co-star Marin Ireland, Williams was also on Sneaky Pete as Richard. This should come as no real surprise, as executive producer and creator of Justified, Graham Yost was also a producer on the Prime Video show, and clearly enjoys working with the same group of actors. Williams has made a career of playing larger than life lawmen – the 6’5” behemoth has played a cop in Profiler, Cop Land, Flight of the Conchords, NYC 22, The Blacklist, Hunters, as well as a lengthy stint on The Affair as Detective Jeffries in all four seasons of that show.
Norbert Leo Butz as Norbert
The irony of often playing edgy tough guys when your name is Norbert is only compounded when you’re playing a tough guy named Norbert. Norbert is one of Raylan’s allies in the Detroit Police Department, but like so many lawmen that Raylan came across in his native Kentucky, there’s a bit too much renegade in Norbert. Much like Raylan, Norbert is all about his sense of justice, and is a constant reminder that occasionally these officers and marshals have to pull themselves back before they cross a moral line.
Butz has predominantly made a name for himself on the small screen, with recurring appearances in The Girl From Plainville, Debris as well as playing Paddy Chayefskey in the Fosse/Verdon mini-series. Butz is no doubt best known for playing the damaged youngest brother Kevin Rayburn in Bloodline. He gave a standout performance in a loaded cast, and brings some of that same energy to his character in City Primeval.
Keith David as Judge Alvin Guy
Judge Guy is at the center of this entire story. He is the one so unimpressed by Givens’ conduct as a Marshal, that he insists the sarcastic lawman stick around to learn a thing or two. As the series unfolds, it appears that Judge Guy, much like Sweetie, has been keeping an ear to the ground to learn the city’s darkest secrets, and that knowledge could possibly be his undoing, or the undoing of those around him.
The silver-throated David has been a mainstay of classic sci-fi and horror with roles in They Live and The Thing fairly early in his career, and a recent return to that genre in Jordan Peele’s Nope. Yet it is his work as a voice over artist that makes Keith David a part of so many childhoods. Voicing Goliath in Gargoyles, the titular character in Spawn, Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog, and has featured regularly in Rick and Morty, David’s iconic voice has given him dozens of memorable animated characters over the years.
The first two episodes of Justified: City Primeval premiere Tuesday, July 18 at 10 p.m. ET on FX. The finale will air on Aug. 29. New episodes are available to stream the day after on Hulu. All six seasons of Justified are available to stream on Hulu in the U.S. and on Disney+ in the U.K.