–You’re the master of writing finales as you’ve now closed out every season of “Justified” to date. In particular, what was difficult about the breaking and writing of “Ghosts”?
The finale usually builds to a big confrontation between Raylan and the season’s prime bad-guy. This one didn’t. Raylan walks away from the final confrontation, and that’s only at the end of the 3rd act! We knew it was the right way to go; but would the audience go with us? I’d be lying if I said we weren’t concerned.
–How were writing duties split between you and co-writer Ben Cavell?
We collaborated on the outline, then I divided up the scenes according to what I thought were our respective strengths. Ben writes great showdowns. This episode had a few. Ben knocked them out of the park. I had fun with the quest for Delroy’s body, as well as the more emotional Raylan-Winona and Boyd-Ava threads.
–Do you have a favorite character to write for?
Nope. They’re all a blast.
–This season, several characters – most memorably Boyd in “Ghosts” – have voiced criticism about Raylan’s unorthodox methods. Do you think all of it will lead Raylan to change his ways?
Raylan will emerge from these encounters a chastened man. Unless he doesn’t.
–Did you and the other writers expect Delroy’s death to have such significant consequences when you planned it in season three?
Never. But if we’ve learned one thing on this show, it’s that you never know what opportunities an incident might present, down the pike. Actions have consequences.
–Was there any scene in “Ghosts” that required a lot of rewrites? Also, was there any scene or character that was painful to take out?
Some scenes required revision, some were shot pretty much as written. About par for the course. The cast of characters didn’t change in this episode. We’d hoped to bring Constable Bob on for a final bow, but it just didn’t feel right.
–Raylan’s film IQ is quite impressive. Is there a particular movie character that he models himself after?
I think all the western lawmen he used to watch on TV as a kid inform the way he carries himself, and does his job. But Raylan’s an original: as much a product of witnessing the coal company’s war on miners, when he was a boy, as anything he’s watched or read.
–Ava’s arrest puts Boyd in an emotionally vulnerable state. Is his love for her the real deal or is it, as Raylan suggests, just another one of his fleeting fancies?
He loves her.
–”Justified” is often praised for showcasing unique characters that appear for only a few scenes. Are the characters’ idiosyncrasies products of the daily writers room discussions or is the writer of the episode given the freedom to create them?
Some of both, I think. And don’t underestimate the importance of casting the right actor.
–What advice can you offer aspiring TV writers?
Live a life, and write as much as you can.
–Can you give the fans a hint of what to expect in season five?