‘Fargo’ without Marge and Jerry, but with an A-list cast
|By Amy Carlson Gustafson, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Worries were eased a bit with the Coen brothers giving FX their blessing. And luckily, the network wasn't looking for a carbon copy of the film or even a spinoff featuring one of its characters.
"They said, 'Do you think we can do it without Marge?' By which they meant without any of the characters in the movie," said writer
AN A-LIST CAST
A 10-episode limited series, "Fargo" premieres Tuesday (
Hawley kept the tone, sense of place and mixture of violence and humor similar to those in the film. The accents are back as well as regional colloquialisms. There's the sad, eerie music and desolate snowy landscape that looks so cold it'll have you reaching for a sweater. Special attention is paid to the littlest of details -- like a mallard salt and pepper shaker holder and stuffed pheasant mounted on the wall at the local diner. There's also the use of a hockey stick as a weapon.
Gone are Marge, played by
Instead, the television version of "Fargo" features a new cast of characters and a fresh "true crime" story set in
"I had the idea very early on for just this moment in the emergency room between two men, one of whom is a civilized man and the other who is very much the opposite," Hawley said. "I knew the civilized man was an insurance salesman who was bullied by his wife and everyone around, but who was the other guy?"
The civilized man is
"What really attracted me to it was not as much as he didn't have a conscience, was he has this bizarre sense of humor where he likes to mess with people," Thornton said.
When he was coming up in the acting world, Thornton said, television was considered a bad word. But thanks to the increasing quality of TV shows over the past decade (especially on cable), that has changed.
"Now, it has a cachet, and actors are clamoring to get on television because it's a place that we can do the things we were doing in movies," Thornton said. "There's a spot that television is filling that the movie business is not, which is the medium-budget studio movies."
'MIDWESTERN KIND OF RESERVE'
If anyone in the TV series is going to be compared to
"I wish I could say I really had to toil to find Molly, but I didn't," Tolman said. "I think that's what really got me the role; she spoke to me instantly and sort of sprung forth from the page fully formed for me."
Tolman added: "Something I find endearing and that we play with quite a bit in the series is this idea of the Midwestern kind of reserve you have in
Even though Thornton's menacing character is a drifter, there is a brief point in the show in which he has to play a Minnesotan to avoid trouble. The actor is no stranger to the state, having filmed part of "A Simple Plan" in
"It's just a really interesting culture," Thornton said. "You guys can talk about something that's really heavy, and yet sound like you're talking about going to the grocery store."
For FX's "
"They said to me, 'It's not our medium; we don't know television,' " Hawley said. "They really liked the script that they saw, and they told me to go make my show."
However, the brothers did ask Hawley early on what he was going to do about the
"I think we found that middle ground where it feels very regional, but it's not as labored," Hawley said.
"At one of the meetings, it was described as '
He added: "The film '
It was important to Freeman that his character didn't come off as a caricature, so he worked hard on getting the accent just right. "I didn't want it to be like a comedy sketch," he said in a recent call with reporters. "I wasn't playing an accent. I was playing a character who happened to speak like that and to be from that place."
Accents and all, Freeman is betting it won't take folks long to forget the movie while watching the TV show.
"I do hope and I do sort of believe that people who come to it with an open mind, within 10 minutes, you're no longer thinking about the 1996 film, you are -- from my experience of how people have reacted, they're totally engrossed in the world that we've created," he said.
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