Wednesday, March 4, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Aw, geez, ‘Fargo’ is on TV with Billy Bob Thornton

TV Fargo

This image released by FX shows Shawn Doyle as Vern Thurman, left, and Allison Tolman as Molly Solverson in a scene from "Fargo." The 10-episode season premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. EDT on FX. (AP Photo/FX, Chris Large)

By
April 15, 2014 |

NEW YORK — After failed attempts and broken dreams, by golly, someone went and put “Fargo” on series TV.

The 10-episode season premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. EDT on FX. And it mesmerizes. As a furtherance of the 1996 crime classic by Joel and Ethan Coen that starred Frances McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi, the TV adaptation is a wonder.

Like that movie, the series is set in rural, snow-glazed Minnesota, but 20 years later (in 2006), and is stocked with new characters, deadly mischief and a bounty of stars including Allison Tolman as a bright-eyed deputy and Martin Freeman as a nebbishy insurance salesman (distant echoes of the roles played by McDormand and Macy in the film). Also on hand are Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, Kate Walsh, Keith Carradine, Adam Goldberg, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, and more.

At the core of its deliciously deranged narrative is Lorne Malvo, a sotto-voce psycho whose mysterious path brings him to the town of Bemidji, with many repercussions.

Lorne is played by Billy Bob Thornton, who radiates still menace while sporting what he calls “a haircut gone wrong.”

“This was not from a salon,” Thornton explains. “It was done by a friend. But looking in the mirror, I thought, ‘Wow – this dark character having bangs, which you associate with innocence, would be great.’ So we decided to go with it.”

The man bringing “Fargo” back to life after ill-fated tries by NBC and CBS in the late 1990s is Noah Hawley, who serves as the show runner, an executive producer and the writer of all 10 episodes.

Somehow Hawley internalized the rules and deadpan tone of the Coens (who are also onboard as executive producers), then ran with their sense of twisted realism to create his own thing.

“He captured the Coen Brothers’ spirit, got their vibe, and yet he didn’t imitate ‘em,” says Thornton. “I thought, if you’ve done that, you’ve done something great.”

And when he encountered Lorne Malvo in Hawley’s pilot script, “I don’t know why, but I just went, ‘Yeah. That fits: a hand in a glove.’

“I liked the idea of playing a guy who has no conscience,” Thornton goes on. “He has this weird sense of humor. He likes to mess with people. And as we went along I started thinking, he’s a loner, so messing with people is actually his social life, his recreation.”

This is a guy who, when threatened on his home turf by a thug twice his size, unconcernedly steps to his bathroom, drops his trousers and takes a seat. His foe, appalled, beats a hasty retreat.

“He doesn’t like weakness,” Thornton adds. “He has this weird curiosity about weak people. And he sees them as people he can use.”

Having drawn Freeman’s jammed-up pipsqueak into his lair, Lorne shares his code on being tough: “We used to be gorillas. All we have is what we can take and defend.”

Speaking with a reporter in New York last week, the 58-year-old Thornton is jauntily clad in pants with broad black-and-navy stripes, T-shirt, leather jacket, boots and knit fingerless gloves.

He is friendly, easygoing and charismatic with his soft Southern accent – like his character, a force to be reckoned with.

“The most important thing for an actor to know is who he is,” Thornton says. “He’s got to know, ‘OK, I’m the guy for this role – or not.’ Like I always tell people, ‘If you’re doing a movie about Charles de Gaulle, get a French man. That ain’t me.’

“People will say, ‘Well, you need to stretch yourself as an actor.’ But if you start trying to play people who are inherently not you, that’s not going to be your strongest stuff.”

No one can say Thornton hasn’t stretched. He has scored in popcorn comedies like “Bad Santa” and “Mr. Woodcock” between decidedly grown-up dramas: the Coen Brothers’ “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” ”Monster’s Ball,” ”A Simple Plan” and, of course, “Sling Blade,” which he wrote, directed and starred in, winning an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and a best actor nod.

He arrived in Los Angeles as a young man from backwoods Arkansas, looking to write for Hollywood or form a rock band (music remains a lifelong passion).

This country boy with a hayseed triple name may have seemed like a long shot in Tinseltown, “but I’ve always believed in providence,” says Thornton. “Things were really hard at first, but I always had this belief that it was going to be OK.”

Then he found his way into an acting class.

“My desire was just to be a working actor,” he replies when asked the scope of his career goal. His ideals: the great character actors Strother Martin and Warren Oates.

“I thought I’d always be sixth or seventh on the call sheet. I never expected much more. So I thought I’d really made it on ‘Hearts Afire,'” the early ’90s political sitcom starring John Ritter with Thornton in a supporting role. “But years before, I thought I’d made it when I had just one scene on ‘Matlock’!

“It was all fine,” he sums up, “all along the way.”

Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at [email protected] and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    County honors Meadows Trigueiro as Woman of the Year

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

    Police shut down Fairfield street after shooting

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A1, 9 Comments | Gallery

     
    Celebrity chef motivates Armijo students

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    State schedules work on Highway 12

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

     
    Bridge work to shut down Highway 12 east of Rio Vista

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

    Highway 12 Association to meet this month

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

     
    Caltrans reschedules work on J-Mack Ferry

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

     
     
     
    Robots, raucous businessmen set to arrive on big screen

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

     
    Teen hit by SUV remains in hospital

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    College looks at Measure Q project changes

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A9

     
     
     
    Fairfield police log: March 2, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

    Fairfield police log: March 1, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Fairfield police log: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Suisun police log: March 2, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Suisun City police log: March 1, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Suisun City police log: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Enrollment of non-residents to be capped at some UC campuses

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    .

    US / World

    California survey finds Sierra snowpack far below normal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    California shuts down oil wells to protect ground water

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Ex-CIA chief admits sharing military secrets with mistress

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    Lawmakers taking another crack at expanding gun checks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    California lawmakers show wide discrepancy in missed votes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    Agents target industry helping Chinese women have US babies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

    Family of girl declared brain-dead sues Oakland hospital

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    US marshals say man killed by Los Angeles police was wanted

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments | Gallery

    72 passengers reach settlements in Asiana crash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    Netanyahu warns US ‘bad deal’ would put Iran on nuclear path

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    Mines, bombs slow Iraqi advance on Islamic State-held Tikrit

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    India orders TV stations not to give rapist a platform

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    Health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

    .

    Opinion

     
    Editorial cartoon: March 3-4, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

    Minority outreach that works

    By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

     
    Israelis worry about inequality, not Iran

    By Daniel Gordis | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: March 4, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: March 4, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Mushrooms are nutrient-packed, with a deep, savory flavor

    By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

     
    Get ready to add white to the rainbow of produce you eat

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Horoscopes: March 4, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

    My husband and I want different things in our retirement

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

     
    .

    Entertainment

    Apollo to celebrate Holiday birthday

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Oprah’s Chicago studios to close down

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Fashion week moves Milan to Paris

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    .

    Sports

    Bumgarner hit hard in spring debut, A’s beat Giants 9-4

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
     
    Vanden girls roll, advance to SJS championship game

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

    Cubs’ scramble on Wrigley Field hits bump when mayor balks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Raiders officially release S Tyvon Branch

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Trooper: Fingerprints show victim in Hernandez’s rented car

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Play ball! Quickly! Baseball tries to speed game this spring

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Australian rugby star Hayne signs 3-year deal with 49ers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Maid: Hernandez messed with security camera after killing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Kings bring back former player Divac in front-office role

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    No ‘floating rubbish’ collection for Olympic sailing venue

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Cal senior Reshanda Gray named Pac-12 Player of the Year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Rudy Gay, Kings hand Knicks worst loss of season, 124-86

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    .

    Business

    Oil glut could soon lead to plummeting prices

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

     
    .

    Obituaries

    John Henry Fechter, Jr.

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Jacqueline Mendes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Robert C. Thierry

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Garland (Curly) Henry Tackett

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Otto Vasak

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

     
    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7