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Kara’s TV Goodness All-Stars 2014: Fargo’s Billy Bob Thornton 

Photo Credit: FX/Matthias Clamer
Photo Credit: FX/Matthias Clamer

Before I sing Billy Bob Thornton‘s praises, I have to take a moment to say how great the entire cast of Fargo was. I love it when the material is strong and the people who are cast in the roles can elevate it to a whole other level. I felt like everyone did a superb job, but the standout for me was Billy Bob’s Lorne Malvo.

As a hitman, Malvo’s approach was to ingratiate himself into his surroundings so he could get close for his kills – get in and get out undetected, or at least without raising suspicion. He adopted a persona and pretty much stuck to it the entire time he was “undercover.” But when Malvo meets Lester Nygaard in that ER waiting room, they light some kind of spark in each other. And it’s this spark — or maybe it’s a connection — that ultimately leads to the downfall and death of both.

I’ve always known Billy Bob Thornton is a good actor, but he really impressed me here. Not only did we get glimpses of Malvo, who was so scary that if I ever met someone like him in real life I would probably wet myself before running away, but we were also introduced to his alter egos. We got a man of God, who was counseling a woman on her marriage and undermining her husband at every turn and a dentist, who befriended the brother of his target so he could get to him in witness protection. And if there was an opportunity for Malvo to make some extra money or screw up someone’s life, he took it. It was so fascinating to me to see him play such wildly different characters for the same show. And when he got nominated for an Emmy, I thought it was well deserved.

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

TV Goodness participated in a press call with the actor earlier this year and he had a lot to say about Malvo. In terms of his relationship with Lester, Thornton says, “I think Malvo is like a cat with a mouse. Malvo is almost like God and the devil wrapped into one. Malvo is the spirit that makes things happen, lines up people’s faith for them.”

When talking about his character, Thornton says Malvo is “the only character I’ve ever played, frankly, that has no conscience, he has no backstory.” Thornton chose not to create a backstory for Malvo because “he’s an animal and animals are eating machines. I thought if I come up with a backstory and it’s like his father locked him in a shed when he was little or something, that might cause too much emotion for the character. Malvo is all about he has a job to do and whatever he has to do to do it. That’s what he does and he has supreme confidence. He doesn’t think about failure and he’s not afraid of anything.”

Thornton also talked about how he really enjoyed working on this series because it was “so well written” and because “the tone had already been set by the Coen brothers.” As a fan himself, Thorton can’t wait to see what season 2 brings. I’m right there with him.

Season 1 is available to purchase on Amazon and iTunes. Season 2 premieres in 2015.

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