WTF IS FYC?
STARDUST BY PROXY
A SERIES LEADING TO EMMY
Moderator: Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times, Pulitzer Prize Winner
Noah Hawley Creator & Writer & Producer, Warren Littlefield, John Cameron Exec. Producers
The Coen Brothers' Legacy
Like the Coen Brothers' movie Fargo, the television series captured buzz, viewership, and industry nods in its first season. With outstanding performances by Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bob Odenkirk, Season 2 flipped the bed with a new cast and story line.
1979. Reagan era. Fargo's creator, Noah Hawley, is tasked to create the same feeling the audience has when watching the movie of the same name, including the cold. He tells us that it was balmy in Canada, so Fargo's producers vied for snow with The Revenant, which was also shooting there. "They won. They're a film." The white stuff was trucked in and it was very expensive. To seasoned actors, also tasked with delivering the movie's tone, their experience means they deliver with the details, and the cold is ... well ... part of that.
SOME PANEL BITES ON THE DETAILS OF CHARACTER
Ted Danson (Sheriff Hank Larsson) enlists the dialect. "There's an earnestness, but it's kind of cheerful. It's cold, but everything is going to be OK. The dialect has a musicality and the cold undercuts it." Danson's deadpan delivery through a wide-mouthed grin cracks everyone up. He's also grateful for the gig and that he's still on the show. Hawley confirms, "You can't kill Ted Danson."
Patrick Wilson (Lou Solverson) comments about having knowledge of the humor, but you can't play it, soliciting nods all around and hums of recognition from the audience.
Angus Sampson (Bear Gerhardt) and Allan Dobrescu (Charlie Gerhardt) are sitting extreme stage left, looking very much the bad-boys of the evening. Dobrescu sporting a full beard, long hair, and dark glasses, mentions that his cerebral palsy is also part of his character's disability. Apologies for the focus issue in the photo below ...
Bokeem Woodbine (Mike Milligan) insists that his character has odd things happen to him just as they do to in real life. He and a friend bought beer on the way to his home for a party and his friend slipped on a banana peel and broke all the beer. True story.
Zahn McClarnon (Hanzee Dent) is a Native American who grow up in the Dakotas/Nebraska/Montana area and personally lived on and off a reservation. Hawley interjects, pointing out how interesting the role of silence plays in this episode and they needed to cast actors (like McClarnon) who bring their own worlds to these roles.
Jean Smart (Floyd Gerhardt) appreciated the pauses. To her, these are the most effective moments and a luxury ... they are sometimes the first to go (cut in editing).
RED CARPET INTERVIEWS ARE DEADLY
Angus Sampson (Bear Gerhardt ) is a man who looks like his character's name, but when he speaks, he's a soft-spoken Aussie! On the red carpet, he describes his character as a quiet tinderbox ready to explode, adding contrast to the cannon of masculinity of the Gerhardt brothers. And Bear was hard to kill.
Cristin Milioti (Betsy Solverson) stated on the red carpet that her intelligent and strong character who has cancer is ahead of her time and sees things no one else is able to see. Since Season 2 is in the can, Rachel Keller (Simone Gerhardt) freely chatted on the red carpet about how she loved working with her fellow actors and how her character's horrible death was a surprise.
Here's another cast that doesn't necessarily know what comes next in the narrative until just before shooting. Many creators use this method, keeping the actors both excitedly in the moment and anxiously wondering if their character is going to be killed off. Brad Garrett (Joe Bulo) thought he'd be the first to go after his audition. The audience laughs. Hawley rides the wave, saying that it was crazy pinning Brad under that desk to get his head in that box ... referring to a scene in the episode we just watched, where Garrett's dead head is seen in a box. Apparently, death is an inevitability in this series.
Hawley tells us that Simone's (death) scene in the woods (in the same episode we just watched) was inspired by Miller's Crossing, a Coen brothers' film. The song Danny Boy is in Miller's Crossing, so part of the brain recalls that film and another part is watching (Fargo) in a different way ... to be able to do something like that and be funny ... sign me up.
Wait. What is he talking about? It's happened a few times at FYCs; there's an overriding assumption that the audience has been dutifully watching every episode of every season and we're all super fans, keenly aware and in awe of the cleverness of all creative choices, so of course, we understand every reference that's being discussed. Despite the fact that actually keeping up with a series is quite an accomplishment for any viewer, including an avid fan, how can this assumption be levied collectively upon us simply because we're here at the FYC? Having watched several episodes, but not all of season 1, tonight was the first I'd seen of season 2.
So after researching for this post, I confirmed that the act of drawing inspiration from other films, Miller's Crossing, The Man Who Wasn't There, and obviously, Fargo, had been decided upon early in the creative process for this season. Apparently, this approach worked very well for Season 1, where they referenced No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, and once again, Fargo. I suppose these choices seem obvious to Coen Brothers' fans, since these are Coen Brothers' films. And why not use them? These deftly crafted films have legions of followers and are successful films, so it stands to reason that a series paying homage to them would attract that audience ... a marketing win! I wonder if there will be references in the future to Hail Caesar!? Little known fact: I played a member of the Hail Caesar! film crew in the movie.
And as for that over-used question about what we can expect to see ... when asked if Hawley could give any hints for Season 3 ... "Well, it has the number 3 in it. You want me to spoil it and you don't want me to spoil it. Remember, you don't kill Ted Danson."
Jean Smart, Allan Dobrescu, and Angus Sampson drinks in hand, linger well into the evening socializing with one another and with Academy members. If memory serves, the reception was simple: offerings at the bar along with a coffee/dessert table. To think I'd been wondering if I'd emerge from the theatre to a lobby of inviting bottles of ice cold beer partially submerged in freshly packed snow that had been strategically dotted with pools of fleshy blood. Nope. No Coen-Bro marketing influence there.
COME BACK FOR PART 10: DOWNTOWN ABBEY: THE FINAL SEASON
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