'Fargo's' Jesse Plemons on His Weight Gain, Ed's Commitment to Peggy

Even if he "doesn't quite understand" what Peggy is searching for.
Courtesy of FX

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from season two, episode three of FX's Fargo.]

Episode three of Fargo found Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons) taking his wife, Peggy's (Kirsten Dunst), plan to cover up the killing of Rye Gerhardt one step further — as if one could go beyond putting a body through a meat grinder.

With Rye's body disposed of, however, the Blumquists still had to explain the damage to Peggy's car. So, using a scheme a relative of hers once carried out, the couple deliberately crashed the car into a tree, in hopes of leaving the incident behind them.

Of course, it won't be that simple. Ed and Peggy don't yet know that two different crime families are looking for Rye or that they're about to be in a whole heap of trouble. "This fluke accident that set off this war is just something I think would never cross their minds," says Plemons.

Plemons talks with The Hollywood Reporter about why Ed seems so willing to go along with Peggy's cover-up, the couple's relationship and keeping the weight he gained for the film Black Mass on to play Ed.

Before this story began, do you think Ed was pretty much where he wanted to be?

I think everything was going according to plan, yeah. Maybe slightly behind schedule in terms of starting a family, but I think everything was going according to plan until you meet Ed.

Do you think he realizes Peggy is a little bit unhappy or at least looking for something to make her life more satisfying?

I think he does. I just don't think he understands it. ... There's probably some confusion [on his part] as to why it's not enough, why she needs something more. That's what you do in small towns — you don't typically need to ask for too much more. That's sort of the ultimate dream: to be comfortable and happy and live happily ever after with your family and all that. They don't quite know how to communicate with each other, and I'm sure he can sense something's up with Peggy, but he doesn't quite understand it.

Would he ever try to talk to her about it?

Definitely. But it's also probably some concern about where he fits into her dreams. He wants desperately to understand and provide and for Peggy to be happy, but there's just something in the way.

Is Peggy forcing Ed's hand in going along with covering up Rye's death, or do you think he's doing it willingly?

I think Peggy plays it pretty well in bringing up the alternative solution, which would be calling the police and turning themselves in. That would mean, like she says: no shop, no kids. That's not really an option for him. It's a tough decision that he makes, but it's all made out of just being totally committed to living out this idea of happiness he's always had.

Does their dynamic shift at all as the season goes on, or is she always taking the lead?

There was a shift that happened for me, but not until later. I was shocked by [events in] episode seven or eight — it's hard to talk about exactly what happens without giving anything away.

Did you and Kirsten talk much about how to play the scenes where there's a distance or discomfort between Ed and Peggy that they won't acknowledge?

We did a bit, and in talking with [showrunner] Noah [Hawley], that's something we always wanted to make sure was there — the whole Minnesota-nice culture and way of communicating. That's what's interesting about most of these scenes: There's so much more going on under the surface of what they're actually saying. ... It was one of those sets where we didn't have an unlimited amount of time. ... But we were able to explore and try a scene a bunch of different ways.

How did keeping the weight you gained for Black Mass help inform Ed's character?

One of the first questions I had for Noah about the script was about some of his words describing Ed. He described him as being almost like a cow. I was slightly confused by that and wanted to hear exactly what he meant by that. He said that, in the animal kingdom, that's where Ed would fall. ... I got to visit a few butcher shops in Austin and one in L.A., and if you're working with meat and eating a lot of meat, you might be [overweight]. It was something I was thinking about, and he has moments later on, where I realized a male cow is a bull. So there still are these primal reactions when it comes to protecting what's yours. But at his core, he's a peaceful guy who just wants to find a nice pasture and spend all his days there.

There's a great painting Noah had made for the house — it's right above the fireplace. It's three cows grazing in a nice, idyllic landscape with a little country house in the distance. For some reason, when I was on set, I found myself zoning out and staring at that painting. ... It's hard to explain exactly what the weight did. Obviously it affects how I moved. No clothes fit — I could wear like two pairs of pants and four shirts. (Laughs.)

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