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Noah Hawley’s Calgary-shot anthology series Fargo returns to the airwaves this week on FX. Inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers’ darkly comic movie of the same name, the series has a new storyline and cast this year. As always, it’s an impressive bunch that includes award-winning stars such as Juno Temple, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Jason Leigh, character actors such as Britain’s Sam Spruell and actors such as David Foley and Larmone Morris, who are better known for their comedic roles. Postmedia visited the set in March and interviewed most of the cast. Here is a guide to the new faces you will see this season.
Juno Temple as Dorothy (Dot) Lyon
Where have you seen her before?: Ted Lasso, Maleficent, Vinyl
Character: The protagonist of the series this year, Dorothy (Dot) Lyon seems on the surface to be a typical, Minnesota-nice wife of Wayne, a devoted mother of daughter Scotty and a PTA member. But when she suddenly appears on the radar of Sheriff Roy Tillman, her past comes back to haunt her and Dot proves she is not what she seems. Resourceful, resilient and determined to not let her family fall into the world she once escaped, Dot shows a surprising talent for dispatching the bad guys when they threaten her new life.
“Dot is the connective tissue to all of these other extraordinary storylines and they all meet because of her,” Temple says. “Although technically I’m the lead in the show, it feels so like an ensemble piece and that’s why I was drawn to it. I so love working with people, with actors and getting to develop storylines with different pathways entirely and how that will affect your character.”
Jon Hamm as Sheriff Roy Tillman
Where have you seen him before?: Mad Men, Top Gun: Maverick, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Character: Jon Hamm makes no bones about it, he sees the violent Bible-thumping Sheriff Roy Tillman as a villain. He’s the sheriff of a small community and a “preacher of his church, which is on his property,” Hamm told Postmedia earlier this year. Like most villains, Tillman doesn’t believe he’s a villain. He believes he is doing God’s work as he tracks down Dot Lyon in an attempt to take back what he thinks he owns.
“I think it has a timeless quality to it: sort of a proto-Malboro Man western mystique,” Hamm says. “There’s a lot of that imagery which you’ll see in the show, the rugged cowboy on his own, living off that land sort of thing, which we romanticize in our culture but I think has a very dark underbelly as well. Which is why he is such a fun character to play and I think will be a tremendously fun character to watch.”
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lorraine Lyon
Where have you seen her before?: Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Hateful Eight
Character: The ruthless CEO of the biggest debt collection agency in America, Lorraine Lyon wields significant power and has little patience for those who stand in her way. Her relationship with her seemingly weak-willed son Wayne and his mysterious wife Dot is something she believes she can control like everything else in her life. But with Dot, she may have bit off more than she can chew.
Joe Keery as Gator Tillman
Where have you seen him before?: Stranger Things, Free Guy, No Activity
Character: One of his father’s deputies, Gator, thinks of himself as Sheriff Roy Tillman’s right-hand man. On the surface, Gator is not lacking in confidence but he is also desperate to win the approval of his father, who tends to see him as a disappointment. He is dangerous but inept.
“The relationship with (Roy) is really the jumping-off point for me for the entire show,” Keery says. “It informs how this guy moves through the world and deals with certain situations. In terms of how the characters interact, that was a real interesting dynamic to play because it’s so charged and so one-way and it’s completely out of whack. If you think about it as a circuit, I’m getting so much and he is maybe not. It’s a guy trying to please his father and do whatever he can to do it.”
Dave Foley as Danish Graves
Where have you seen him before?: Kids in the Hall, NewsRadio, Brain Candy
Character: The eye-patch-wearing Danish Graves is Lorraine Lyon’s in-house counsel and advisor, a somewhat arrogant but effective lawyer who helps his boss put out fires and is enlisted to “help” Dot when she appears to be in a world of trouble.
“He is a guy who has always had the power of his position and mistakenly thought that he actually had power,” Foley says. “He sees himself as being the bite to Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character Lorraine. His job is to be the bite to her bark. He mostly just admires her ruthlessness and wishes to be as cruel as she is but can’t quite pull it off.”
Sam Spruell as Ole Munch
Where have you seen him before?: Dr. Who: Flux, Snow White and the Huntsman, Taken 3
Character: Creator Noah Hawley has created several strange characters with murky origin stories to populate the Fargo universe over the years, but Ole Munch may be the weirdest yet. His age and birthplace are unknown and “some say he has always been here, blowing through the American landscape.” Sheriff Tillman and his hapless son Gator do learn early on that Ole Munch is dangerous and not to be crossed.
“You hear that description and you think, ‘Well, how the (expletive) am I going to embody any of that? How am I going to make that a person,” Spruell says. “I can understand it conceptually fine, but what does that do to a person? What does living for 400 years, or however long it is, do to a person? Does it make you excited to get up every day? Probably not. You’re probably sick of waking up.”
David Rysdahl as Wayne Lyon
Where have you seen him before?: Oppenheimer, Nine Days, No Exit.
Character: Dot’s loving and supportive husband grew up under the thumb of his domineering mother and is averse to conflict. He owns a car dealership and is devoted to both his wife and his young daughter, Scotty. Despite being a disappointment to his mother, Wayne offers a non-toxic version of masculinity that is the opposite of the Tillmans.
“It was important to both me and Noah that Wayne isn’t just a joke or wasn’t just a pushover and that there are ways to support your wife and love your wife and love your family and it’s not a weakness,” Rysdahl says.
Richa Moorjani as Deputy Indira Olmstead
Where have you seen her before?: Never Have I Ever
Character: Not unlike Marge Gunderson in the original film or Deputy Molly Solverson in Season 1 of Fargo, Indira Olmstead is the moral centre of the season and good at her job. She is a good person who is at her wit’s end supporting her delusional husband’s attempts at a professional golf career, which has put the couple in deep debt. But she is also persistent, refusing to back down when she starts to unravel the strange case of Dot Lyon.
“First of all, she’s a woman of colour so she sees things in a different way,” Moorjani says. “In some ways, she is maybe a little less naive about things because of her life experiences and she is a lot more disillusioned than previous cops we’ve seen. First of all, she is drowning in financial debt that she can’t seem to get out of no matter what she does. She has a marriage that is falling apart, with a very unsupportive deadbeat of a husband. I think what made her want to be a cop was her deep innate desire to serve and protect.”
Lamorne Morris as Deputy Witt Far
Where have you seen him before?: New Girl, Game Night, How It Ends
Character: Deputy Witt Far is suddenly, and violently, thrust into the mysterious world of Dot Lyon near the beginning of the season. A North Dakota state trooper, he is both intrigued by the mystery that is unravelling before him and determined to get to the bottom of it regardless of the roadblocks put up by Gator Tillman and Dot herself.
“He is Minnesota nice, very reliable and he is the most fair individual you will probably ever meet,” Morris says. “I’ll go deeper and say he’s probably dealing with a lot of loss and a lot of chaos in his past that allows him to be this person because it’s easier. He has a military background, he’s seen some things and as a state trooper, he is escaping that, especially in this town where there isn’t much action. Now there’s action and he has to dive back, reluctantly, into that world of chaos.”
Fargo airs Tuesdays on FX.