Justified City Primeval: Is the Miniseries Based on Real Life?

Developed by Dave Andron and Michael Dinner, ‘Justified: City Primeval’ is a neo-Western crime-drama series airing on FX. The plot follows U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) after he moves from Kentucky to Miami, Florida. While taking his teenage daughter, Willa, to a camp for troubled young women, Givens encounters two carjackers from Detroit, Michigan. He arrests them but delays handing them over to the Detroit authorities.

As a result, Givens is eventually told to stay in Detroit and help the locals catch the killer known by the moniker The Oklahoma Wildman (Boyd Holbrook). Now, if the gritty, grounded, and violent narrative and setting of ‘Justified: City Primeval’ have made you wonder whether it is based on actual events, we got you covered.

Justified: City Primeval is Entirely Fictional

‘Justified: City Primeval’ is not based on a true story. The miniseries is the sequel and revival of ‘Justified,’ which originally aired on FX for six seasons between 2010 and 2015. Raylan Givens was originally created by American novelist Elmore Leonard and is one of Elmore’s characters who appear in multiple books. ‘Justified’ and ‘Justified: City Primeval’ especially draw from the short story ‘Fire in the Hole.’ However, the narrative of ‘Justified: City Primeval’ is based on ‘City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit,’ the 1980 novel that revolves around a different character.

As a result, the novel’s plot was changed to make space for Givens. The original protagonist of ‘City Primeval,’ Homicide Detective Raymond Cruz, still appears in the FX series, portrayed by Paul Calderon. Leonard grew up in Detroit, so there is a personal connection to the city where he set the novel. He reportedly shared that he came up with Raylan Givens’ first name after meeting a young man named Raylan Davis at a book distributor convention sponsored by Western Merchandisers in Amarillo, Texas, in June 1991.

Developed by Graham Yost, ‘Justified’ has garnered a considerably large fanbase since its premiere. The series had a perfect ending for many of these fans, so the news that Givens would be the central protagonist in a revival series surprised many. Andron and Dinner served as executive producers on the first show. In an interview with Collider, the latter explained that they felt pressure while developing the revival, knowing the decision would garner at least some criticism.

Dinner added, “We felt we did well in ending the show, but this, in a way, is its own thing. What we feel good about is that it totally is the show that we know, and we catapulted our guy into this story, but in some ways, it’s a more grown-up story and a different story in the next phase of his life. We feel pretty good about that.” According to Andron, part of the genesis of the series was a conversation between Olyphant and Quentin Tarantino, during which the Oscar-winning filmmaker observed that ‘City Primeval’ would be a great season of ‘Justified’ if the involved parties could figure out a way to do it.

Andron and Dinner agreed; they told Collider that Cruz and Givens were similar characters, with Dinner even declaring that Cruz was Given’s “granddaddy.” The co-showrunner elaborated, “We also wanted to do service to the book and then take our character and catapult him into the story. We like the idea of Raylan being a fish out of the water and being in this world because Detroit’s a character in the piece. But as we started working on it, we weren’t trying to recapture the past, were trying to recapture the feeling we had doing the show, of working together, and tonally what. We also take our guy, who’s in a different place in his life.”

“…We all look down the road as we’re growing up and getting older, and the road is getting shorter. This is the next phase in his life. We thought there was an existential story to tell and an entertaining story to tell,” continued Dinner. The two creators also wanted to focus on Givens as a father, which the original series didn’t shed enough light on. In ‘Justified: City Primeval,’ Olyphant’s real-life daughter, Vivian, portrays Willa. Eden Henderson previously essayed the character in an episode of ‘Justified.’

A less-wholesome reel-meets-real titbit about ‘Justified: City Primeval’ revolves around the fact that the cast and crew witnessed two separate incidents that could have been catastrophic. The project was filmed predominantly in Chicago, Illinois, and in one of those incidents, four cars ran through the set barrier while exchanging gunfire. In the second incident, someone threw an incendiary device on the set. Fortunately, that didn’t explode.

Portrayed by Walton Goggins, Boyd Crowder is arguably the second most well-known character in the series after Givens. Goggins isn’t part of the revival and implied to the media that it was a mutual decision for him to be not part of the show. “This isn’t the right place and time,” he said before confirming that he would be watching the series despite that. So, to sum it all up, ‘Justified: City Primeval’ isn’t based on a true story but a revival of the popular 2010s series ‘Justified.’

Read More: Where is Justified: City Primeval Filmed?