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Elmore Leonard on 'Raylan' and 'Justified'

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On why he wrote "Raylan": I figured I should do something since they were paying me as an executive producer [for the show]. I can’t just sit here, I’ve got to do something. But I didn’t ask them what they were doing and try to tie in with it, I just wrote my own things. It worked out so they could use a little bit here and there.

On how his approach changes because of the TV show: That didn’t bother me because as soon as I met [Raylan] in earlier books, I liked him a lot. He just seemed to work. He seemed easygoing, but serious, too.

But seeing him now [as a TV character] just reinforces my feeling about it. That he’s the guy. [Timothy Olyphant] is probably the best one to do one of my characters. [The late actor] Richard Boone would recite the lines exactly the way I heard them, he was in a couple of movies [based on Leonard works], but this guy’s perfect. He’s the good guy. Richard Boone was always the bad guy.

On whether portions of the book will be used in the show: It already has. There were some references in the second year. They were minor scenes, but they were from the book. I don’t think they did enough with my character who works for the mining company. She was in last year – they may bring her back. I hope they do.

On the novel’s villains, including the murderous mining executive and crooks trading in excised body organs: Well, I don’t know why I decided to do three girls there [as criminals], but then the third girl, who played poker, wasn’t that menacing at all. She wasn’t that bad. So then I added this guy who is dressed like a girl when Raylan shoots him. I have a good time but I take it seriously. Nobody’s laughing or clowning around.

On why he likes Raylan: The fact that he’s not shady, but there is some question about him. The way he disposes, for example, of moonshine. Things that he says about the laws. He’s not 100 percent on the good side.

He does his job and he’s very good at it. And he always has that last line when the bad guy says something, he comes back with a line. It may take me weeks to think of that line, but I go back and stick it in. That’s the beauty of being able to write it in a book. You’ve got time to get everybody’s character the way you want.

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