Carrie Coon Q&A: ‘Fargo’

“I feel incredibly privileged, it’s kind of unbelievable,” admits Carrie Coon during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) about having her two series, FX’s “Fargo” and HBO’s “The Leftovers,” air at the same time. “It’s extraordinary. My mom keeps saying ‘what other actress is doing this?’,” the actress jokes. “I’m glad people like it and it’s not just my mother.”

Coon has pulled off a rare feat this season, having the lead role in two high profile series airing simultaneously. In “Fargo,” Coon plays police chief Gloria Burgle who has unknowingly stumbled into a heist that backfires badly when people end up dead. Coon also reprises her leading role as Nora Durst on “The Leftovers,” which picks up where season two left off as the world anxiously awaits the seventh anniversary of the “Sudden Departure,” when two percent of the world’s population (140 million people) suddenly and inexplicably disappeared off the face of the Earth.

In season three of the HBO drama, Nora is approached by a group claiming that they can assist people to depart and join their vanished loved ones. She appears skeptical at first, but because her entire family departed, it seems that there is some part of her that wants to believe. She follows the group to Melbourne, Australia, and attempts to expose their claim as an elaborate con. Coon relished being part of the last audacious and heart-wrenching final season, especially because the show relocated to the other side of the world for its final episodes. “Our first season we shot in New York, our second season we shot in Texas and our third season we shot in Australia. So every season kind of felt new,” the actress says. “It felt like three different television shows. It was so dislocating. And I think that’s so appropriate. In the script we were going to Australia, so we were discovering it while the characters were discovering it.”

Ending the series has been bittersweet for the actress. “I was the last person left on set, it was purely due to scheduling. So I was alone, all the actors had left. It was very interesting for me because I was alone on set with this Australian crew. Damon [Lindelof] was there and Tom Perrotta was there, and Mimi [Leder], and it was a strange sort of anti-climax,” Coon reveals. “It was just me and Nora, alone, at the end. And that felt ritualistically right, for me, to say goodbye to something.”

Her acclaimed work on “The Leftovers” over the previous two seasons led to her catching the eye of “Fargo” creator Noah Hawley. “There was a quality in Nora,” Coon explains. “Whenever she’s seemingly defeated, she always finds a way to get back up again and keep going. She’s very resilient. And that was a quality he was very interested in for Gloria because he knew he was going to put her in challenging emotional circumstances, with her life falling apart around her. He needed somebody that had that feeling of hopefulness. Even though Nora and Gloria can be quite dark, they’re really quite tenacious and hopeful ultimately.”

Despite sharing some similarities, Coon agrees that Nora and Gloria are quite different in many ways. Asked what Gloria would make of Nora, Coon smiles and says “I think Gloria would find some of Nora’s outbursts off-putting. That kind of physical expression would be alarming to Gloria. And she would find it impolite… She’s a lot like the women I know. Women I respect and admire,” she says. “There’s a lot to love about her folksy grace.”

Coon has had some luck with awards in the past, having won a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Drama Actress in 2016 for “The Leftovers,” and being nominated for a Tony Award in 2013 for Best Featured Actress in a Play for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. This year, she may be in contention at the Emmys as a possible Best Drama Actress nominee for “The Leftovers,” and Best Movie/Limited Series Actress nominee for “Fargo.” Asked how she would feel if she were up against heavyweight stars like Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon (both for “Feud: Bette and Joan”) or Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon (both for “Big Little Lies”), Coon is honored but ultimately unfazed by the hype surrounding her possible first nomination. “There’s no way to crack that,” the actress laughs. “I’ll be watching the Emmys eating a taco in my bed and celebrating genuinely those women because of course everything that lifts one of us lifts all of us right now. It’s an extraordinary time to be a woman on television. The work is much riskier now. There’s a willingness to see women being grittier and uglier, without it being a spectacle. We all want to see ourselves represented in art.”

She adds, “If I am in the conversation on Gold Derby then that’s very flattering, and I’m sure my parents will be playing close attention to all of the stats!”

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UPLOADED Jul 16, 2017 9:50 am