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Fargo “The Heap” [+ Allison Tolman and Noah Hawley INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: Chris Large/FX
Photo Credit: Chris Large/FX

Molly’s forced to give up on her theories about the murders, Lester and the Fargo connection after Bill shuts her down. Of course they’re happy she’s back at work so soon after her injury, but they guys feel like they’ve got their man so Molly needs to move on just like they have.

A year later we see that Gus is now employed by the post office (a much less dangerous job and one he’s more suited for) and married to Molly, who is pregnant. Lester has just won the salesman of the year award at a convention in Vegas and we can see how much more confident and smarmy he’s become since getting away with murder. But after he sends his wife up to bed with the intention of cheating on her with a woman he’s been making eyes with, Lester sees Lorne Malvo. Now, a smarter man might leave well enough alone. But we are talking about Lester here. And the preview for next week looks intense.

TV Goodness participated in a press call with series star Allison Tolman and EP/writer Noah Hawley. They discussed the time jump, Molly’s fate, working with such a talented group of actors and if there will be a second season.

What went into the decision to do the time jump forward? Why was that important to finish out the story?

Noah Hawley: “I had a writer’s room of four writers even though I wrote all of them, but we got together for ten weeks and we broke episodes 2 through 9 and there was a moment where one of the writers, Steve Blackman, suggested we do a time jump. There was part of me that felt like it might feel gimmicky and I wanted to sleep on it. I liked the idea that it felt like a real-life thing because, obviously, if these cases aren’t solved quickly often they’re not solved at all or the case goes cold and then something new happens. So I liked that idea, but it wasn’t until I literally slept on it and woke up the next morning and thought, ‘Well she’s pregnant. That’s why we’re doing it.’ We’re doing it because in that year, things have happened to her personally where she and Gus are now married and she’s pregnant and suddenly it is the movie in a way. Like you watch this whole thing thinking,  ‘Oh, it’s kind of like the movie but it’s not the movie,’ but then the minute that she’s pregnant again, you think,  ‘Wait a minute, now it is the movie in this strange way.’ Now you have expectations based on the movie about the situations that she’s going to be put in that maybe we play into or maybe we defy in a way that it’s always very important to me to try to create a story that feels unpredictable. Like you can’t jump ahead and see what’s coming, but at the end, when you’ve watched the whole thing, it all feels inevitable. So, it’s a tricky line, but I did feel like once the pregnancy thing came to my head that the time jump felt justified on every level and it allows us to move all the characters forward and to move Lester forward to see his transformation complete and where he ends up and the kind of guy he is now. As for Molly and Gus, and then, for Malvo, all you know is what you saw at the very end, but it’s good. I can’t wait for you to see [episode] nine, let me just say that.”

Will any of the events during that year be addressed in upcoming episodes or do you feel everything is going to resolve from that point? And with Lester being this newly confident wielder of staplers, is there a showdown between him and Lorne in the future?

Noah: “Well, it certainly looks like that at the end as they’re, for the first time, in the room again. I found it really interesting to- the first episode is all about these two guys and then they’re never in a room again until this point, and hopefully, we’ve managed to keep everyone entertained and create a compelling story without that element, but certainly, bringing them together now in Episode 8, I think hopefully it gives everyone exactly what they’ve been hoping for all along. But the time jump was really- it was created, and if you saw the script, you would see. We have that moment where Molly and Gus get into bed; it’s a year later and she tells him that they’re doing good and he goes to sleep and they’re watching TV and the camera drops down through the bedding, and in the script it says and if it feels like that’s the end of the movie, well that’s on purpose. I purposely wanted to create a moment in Episode 8 that literally mimicked the end of the movie so that everyone thought, ‘Wait a minute, I thought there were two of these left, is that it, is that where it’s ending?’ and then, drop down through and create a sort of disorienting moment where suddenly you’re in Las Vegas and it’s some sales conference and it’s not until we reveal Lester Nygaard that you realize, “Hh yeah, we haven’t seen where Lester is a year later, and look, he’s winning this award,’ and then bring him into direct contact with Malvo again in the same room and just lead people with that. Now, they really want to come back and see what happens next, but I think that the year jump was both to move the story forward and also to sort of say maybe it’s an epilogue. Maybe we’re like a year later and actually she’s doing pretty good and she’s still thinking about it, but they got everything they need.”

What can you tell us about Molly’s fate?

Allison Tolman: “The more savvy fans of mine are getting on my IMDB page and checking to see how many episodes I’m in. So, that has given them some comfort, I think. People don’t need to be too worried, although of course nothing is sacred in the world of Fargo, so a lot can happen between now and episode 10.”

You’ve had some great scenes with a lot of the cast members, like Bob Odenkirk and Colin Hanks. Is there a favorite scene that sticks out?

Allison: “Yes, there is a favorite scene that I have that I got to film with Colin and it’s in [“Heap.”]. The really nice thing about it is that we had permission when we played it to not feel like we had to speak too quickly, that it was okay to have some silence in there and it was okay for these two people to just exist in the same space for a little while. And that one was really special. It was really fun to play that and to not feel like- because I talk a lot in the show and I do a lot of police speak and I have to relay a lot of facts, so getting to just sit with my character, Molly and Gus to just sit together and have not as much to say was really nice as an actress to be able to play with that.”

Fargo reunites you with both Adam Goldberg and Joshua Close from The Unusuals. Were the parts written for them in mind and what was it like working with them again?

Noah: “No, none of the parts were really written with anyone in mind. I tend to write first and then cast later, but I’ve remained friends with all of that cast. It was such a great cast and obviously Mr. Renner has gone on to do some other things, but all those guys, I stay in touch with. The thing that I like about Adam and that I used him in The Unusuals is that I like casting him against type, which is that sort of neurotic Jewish comic thing. I like putting him in a sort of darker less-talky, more-menacing kind of role. I think he brings something so interesting to it. And then, Josh came in. He auditioned for the role of Chaz and there was just a quality to him that I think really felt- he really captured a sort of small-town arrogance in a way, but also, I felt like his journey and where he ended up by the end of Episode 7 was such a raw and vulnerable place, and people said they never thought they would feel sorry for him but they did. So, I’m a believer that when you find people you like working with, you should keep working with them is a good philosophy.”

You’ve worked with pretty much the entire ensemble. Who is the most interesting of that experience?

Allison: “Oh, that’s a tough one. I guess for me as an actress and coming into television as a newbie it was really fascinating to work with Martin Freeman, because of the freedom that he has when he films. He is really unafraid to do a different thing – take after take after take each one is different – so that was really fascinating to me coming in new. I can’t imagine having the confidence that he has to be able to just swing so wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other, which he does, and I think is what makes him so fantastic and gives the editors such a difficult job when they’re trying to figure out what take they should use. So that was really fascinating.”

Can you talk about your scenes with Bob Odenkirk?

Allison: “We had great fun. We spent some time together off set as well, so we had a nice rapport before we went into those scenes and had to disagree so much, which was good. But, yes, I think the dynamic between Bill Oswalt and Molly Solverson is really a fun one to play with, and I could tell while we were doing it that we were doing some funny stuff. And as the season progresses their interactions become more and more poignant, and it’s really fun to watch that evolution take place.”

You have so much good chemistry with Keith Carradine’s Lou. Can you talk about what it was like to work with him for such short scenes, but fill them with so much father-daughter emotion?

Allison: “Keith, in addition to being a really tremendous actor, is a really wonderful man. We had a very paternal relationship throughout filming, so it was kind of interesting to go in and be able to play that on-screen as well. But it’s nice for you when you’re playing a character who does do so much work, work, work, work, work to be able to play scenes where she gets to kind of come home and sit with a person who really knows her and loves her, and to see what those interactions look like. Similarly, I felt really safe whenever I played scenes with Keith. I felt very taken care of and I knew that he was proud of the work that I was doing, and it was just very much like holding a scene with a father and daughter.”

What is Molly’s dynamic with her dad?

Allison: “Yes. I think that she listens to her father’s advice and she seeks it out. She doesn’t come right out and say, ‘Dad, tell me what you think about this.’ But she knows when she goes and sits down at his counter and gets some coffee that he’s going to tell her some story or other that is going to help her try to figure out what she’s supposed to do. So, I think there’s shorthand there between the two of them that’s really nice, that really reads. As far as that tension goes, I think that she goes and seeks his opinion and he gives it and he knows full well that she’s going to do whatever she wants to do anyway. But that’s the dance that they do, is that she goes and asks him what he thinks, and he tells her, and she says, ‘Okay, thanks,’ and then she goes and does her own thing.”

Is there any word yet on a second season?

Allison: “I have not heard any word yet. I know that they’re discussing it, and discussing if they do have a second season, or a second installment in the anthology, which actors might make it through to another season, what time it will be placed in, etc., etc. So, even among the people that know what’s going on, there’s so many different theories and there’s so many different options that I’m just kind of sitting tight until they let me know exactly what’s actually happening.”

Knowing what we know and that you initially wrote this as a movie script, what would a second season of Fargo look like?

Noah: “It would look like a new movie really. I really liked that when FX said we want to do Fargo, we’re wondering if you can do it without Marge, by which they meant without any of the characters from the movie, by which they meant can you write us a new Coen brothers‘ movie. I liked the idea that it was just a story that felt like that story but actually had no connection to it, and then, as you get deeper into it, you found that there was a connection actually and that Stavros found the money that Buscemi buried at the end of the film. And you realize that, wait a minute, this story is even tangentially connected to the movie, I think is really fun. So, I think if we were to do it again, you would see a new movie with new characters but one that might have some connection either to the first season or to the original movie, just not in a way hopefully that you can predict or expect.”

Fargo was a true crime story that’s completely fictional. Are there any real true-crime stories that helped inspire the series?

Noah: “No. There wasn’t. It wasn’t like I read anything that I felt like was a detail that would play in well to this case. The minute that Lester came in and Malvo came in and the idea of killing the bully and killing the wife came in, then it was about playing out the consequences of that, and the idea that Sam has had connections to a Fargo crime syndicate and that Mr. Wrench and Numbers came to town and all that. So, at that point, I wasn’t really looking for any true story to rely on. It was more the idea that once you call something a true story, you’re able to break a lot of the rules of hero-based story-telling that this sort of Joseph Campbell heroes journey thing that our friend Dan Harmon talks about all the time. It was more like you’ll seen in Episode 4, Gus manages to arrest Malvo and he calls Molly and says you should be here, and she gets her coat but she never makes it there and Bill goes instead. In the fictional story, you would want her in that room, she’s the hero. She’s supposed to be sitting across from the villain, but the true story version is that she never makes it there, just like Marge wasn’t there when Jerry Lundegaard was arrested at the end of the movie and the same thing in [episode] 106. When Malvo’s doing his whole thing of setting up Don Chumph and playing out that end game, and even the shootout, it’s like Molly and Gus are sort of driving around and they’re having coffee and they’re not- the textbook tells you to put them at the center of the action, but by not putting them in the center of the action, it feels more real, I guess, was the conceit. So, it wasn’t so much about looking for real-world inspirations as much as it was to try to make a fictional story feel realer.”

Edited for space and content.

Fargo airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.

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