It has been a good day today, not least because there were stories regarding two of what I would call the Big Three of current crime dramas. One is The Bridge (see that story here), and the other is Fargo (the last one of the three is Happy Valley). Fargo is one of my absolute favourite current series, one that expertly sustains the Coen brothers’ legacy. Noah Hawley, the exec-producer and co-creator, has been talking to Californian-based radio station KCRW about many things, including the third series of Fargo.
Hawley, who had been doing the rounds promoting his new novel Beyond The Fall, calls himself in The Spin-Off, a “20-year overnight success”. He talks about the novel, as well as his work on the FX superhero series, Legion but, most interestingly, his writing process and how everything works on Fargo. The whole thing is well worth a listen, but I pulled out some interesting quotes.
On separating writing from production:
We wrote the show in December and because it was a winter show, we literally couldn’t shoot it for a year. Because of that I had time to write all the episodes. I had nine outlines, and I wrote two or three scripts together at a time. And then that became the way we wrote the show.
On what he wanted to achieve in series two:
I guess the idea was to say Fargo – since my job was to not adapt the movie – was to tell a different story in the same way. Then Fargo becomes a kind of mind space; it’s like a type of true crime story, where the truth is stranger than fiction. After the success of the first season, we were like ‘so this is Fargo, but can this other kind of story be Fargo as well? Can we tell a bigger story, more of an American epic; a period piece with a lot of moving pieces… can that be Fargo as well?’ I’m not entirely sure the origin of the idea, which was literally a woman drives home with the body of a man sticking out of her windshield and makes dinner for her husband. But then you think: who’s the man in the windshield? What does the husband do? That was the catalyst for the story, and then, of course, the guy in the windshield has to be part of a crime family, and then… as it expanded I realised it was a very big story! My goal was to tell the best version of that story possible.
On series three, including Ewan McGregor’s dual role:
I’m there a lot less, which is harder. I have one script and we’ve broken it all down and we’re about to start writing. [Ewan McGregor] will play someone and someone else. Like the first two years, there’s a catalyst to the story. It’s not a woman with a man in her windshield and it’s not two men in an emergency room, but there is a feud between these two brothers that puts things in motion. What I always loved about the movie Fargo was that it wasn’t a whodunit. There’s no mystery. You meet the people before the crime is committed, then you meet the law enforcement when the crime is committed and hen you follow everyone going forward. These brothers will have a lot to do with the crime, then we have a female cop come in and then a second. It’s not a story on the same scale as season two – it’s not a gang war story. It’s a more intimate and character-driven year. [The story takes place] in 2010… there are obviously plenty of opportunity to bring people back. We managed a little flash forward in our second year with Alison and Colin and Keith again, but I’m not sure there’s value in seeing them again. But I’m not ruling out others.
Plenty of good stuff there from Hawley, as you would expect. More news when we get it!
For all our Fargo news and review, go here