Noah Hawley knows he took on a daunting task by adapting the beloved Oscar-winning film “Fargo” as a television program for FX. In our recent webcam chat (watch below), he admitted, “No one blatantly warned me against it, but I did have a moment of wondering whether I was a little bit nuts for doing it, that’s for sure.”
The hit miniseries is based in part on the 1996 movie of the same name from Joel and Ethan Coen (who serve as executive producers of the series). It won Academy Awards for Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Best Original Screenplay (the Coens).
Hawley revealed that they put their names on this project but have not been actively involved. As he explained, “Their movies are so inventive and iconoclastic, that it really allowed me to do anything I wanted structurally and to play with tone to surprise people.”
In the new version, the evil Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) has a car accident when passing through the small town of Bemidji, Minnesota. While there, he causes havoc and enters into an unintentional pact with mild-mannered Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) that leads to murder. Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Duluth police officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) team up to try and solve the crimes in this cold, wintry climate.
The 10 episodes are just past midway through airing and have been well-received by critics. It should be a frontrunner at this year’s Emmys for Best TV Miniseries and could claim several acting slots. The cast also includes Keith Carradine, Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, and Kate Walsh.
One key scene involving Platt’s character Stavros Milos was a direct tie to the original film. A younger version of the man finds a briefcase full of money buried in the snow in 1987. It was hidden there by the movie character Carl Showalter played by Steve Buscemi. That massive amount of money helps to start his grocery store kingdom.
Hawley admits, “I liked sneaking that in the fourth episode so that the audience could spend three episodes resigning themselves to the fact that this is completely different from the movie. And suddenly here’s this direct connection to the movie that gave people the connection they probably wanted instinctively. But the show stood on its own two feet before that happened.”
In addition to being the creator, showrunner, and writer for “Fargo,” Hawley was a producer and writer for “Bones,” as well as the short-lived shows “The Unusuals” and “My Generation.” He is the author of four novels: “A Conspiracy of Tall Men,” “Other People’s Weddings,” “The Punch,” and “The Good Father.”
Will “Fargo” win as Best TV Miniseries? After watching the webcam chat, use the easy drag-and-drop menu below to make your predictions.