The wait will soon be over for fans of Fargo. The series returns Sept. 27 for a fourth season — two-and-a-half years since Season Three premiered.
The hold up is simply FX waiting for creator/writer/executive producer Noah Hawley to catch his breath. The man has been busy with other projects, including the fourth movie in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, directing Natalie Portman in the 2019 feature “Lucy in the Sky” and working on the upcoming sci-fi movie “Cat’s Cradle.”
“I tend to say yes to things,” Hawley told critics Wednesday during FX’s virtual TCA press tour session. “It always ends up that the two things have to happen simultaneously.”
Besides, it was never Hawley’s goal to race back into production. He also has a novel to finish and young children at home. “So, the question is what is it that I want to do next? You know, it’s not a shortage of options. It’s just really wanting to make sure that the choices that I make for the next few years are not just me saying yes to things, but trying to tell stories I haven’t told before and continue to explore with FX how we can try to reinvent this medium.”
He reinvented Fargo by placing Season Four of the anthology series in the middle of a racial gang war in Kansas City in the ’50s. (The season was actually shot in Chicago.) Chris Rock plays the head of an African American crime syndicate who goes to war with the Italian mafia (whose members include Jason Schwartzman’s character).
How does this all relate back to Fargo, North Dakota? The original Coen brothers movie was filled with people from close to Canada, many sporting North Dakota, or Minnesota accents. One character who sounds similar in Season Four is Oraetta Mayflower, played by Irish actress Jessie Buckley.
“I love doing accents,” she told critics Wednesday. “I don’t think I’ve ever used my own accent.” She worked with two dialect coaches on the series. “For me, an accent is like music. You know, you kind of get into the rhythm of it and the musicality of it.”
As for Rock, he said he was “just happy to be offered a decent part that was well-rounded.” He thanked executive producer Warren Littlefield for the offer, saying the two had tried to team on other projects in the past.
“It was actually great to play somebody, like, my age too,” he continued. The ex-Saturday Night Live star says he “really got famous at 35 or whatever, 37, and everything that’s offered to me, it’s like I’m kind of like a man-boy. So, it was great to actually play a grown-ass man. So thank you. Thank you, Noah. Thank you, Warren.”
It is a bit surprising to realize that Rock is now 55.
Hawley said he had no problem convincing Jason Schwartzman to join Fargo. The executive producer says he once tried to lure the actor over to the Fargo side over lunch, “and halfway through the meal, I realized you were trying to talk me into letting you be in Fargo.”
Schwartzman admitted it was his favourite show. “It is such a unique situation to love something that exists, and then you get to become a part of it. It’s like if you love a band, and then, all of a sudden, they say, ‘Would you like to come play on the next record?’ …to say it was ‘a dream come true’ would be an understatement.”
The cast and crew were able to complete nine of 11 episodes before COVID-19 concerns back in March shut down the Chicago production. That forced a hiatus of several months before everyone re-assembled, worked through what Hawley and Littlefield called strict safety protocols and complete work on the final two episodes. Production just wrapped earlier this week.
Rock, for one, was fine with the break.
“It was definitely frustrating to stop when we stopped, because you feel like you’re on a roll,” he began. “But honestly? The break allowed me … to, like, recharge my battery. And I saw a couple of the episodes. It was like, oh, okay. Let me work on my game.”
He illustrated his point with n NBA delayed playoff analogy, using the Miami Heat as an example: “They had a break and now they’re better than everybody even though they weren’t before. Like, the break helped them more than everybody else. So, the break helped me, honestly. I’m very–you know, I don’t want the world to have COVID, but I think my last two [episodes] are my best.”