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'Sherlock's' Martin Freeman to Star in FX's 'Fargo'

The "Hobbit" star will play the good-natured sad sack, based on the William H. Macy role in Joel and Ethan Coen's Oscar-nominated film.

Martin Freeman Headshot - P 2012
Getty Images
Martin Freeman

FX's Fargo reboot has found its leading man in Sherlock's Dr. Watson.

Martin Freeman has been tapped to star on the cable network's reboot of Joel and Ethan Coen's adaptation of Fargo, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. He'll play Lester Nygaard, the sad sack portrayed by William H. Macy in the 1996 feature film.

The 10-episode limited series is inspired by the Coen brothers' 1996 best picture nominee and will follow an all-new "true crime" story with a new case and characters, all seeped in the humor, murder and "Minnesota nice" of the original.

STORY: Billy Bob Thornton to Star in FX's 'Fargo' Adaptation (Exclusive)

Lester is an insurance salesman who has seen better days. Henpecked by his wife, his life is changed forever when a mysterious stranger comes to town. The part earned Macy a best supporting actor Oscar nomination.

Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton will portray Lorne Malvo, the rootless, manipulative man who meets the small-town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction.

Fargo hails from My Generation's Noah Hawley, who will pen the script as well as executive produce. Joel and Ethan Coen, the writers, directors and producers behind the film, starring Frances McDormand, Macy and Steve Buscemi, are on board to exec produce alongside former network chief-turned-producer Warren Littlefield and Geyer Kosinski. Emmy winner Adam Bernstein (30 Rock) will direct the premiere.  

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Production on the effort from MGM Television and FX Productions is set to begin in October in Calgary and Canada for a spring 2014 premiere. MGM Television will be the lead studio and will handle worldwide distribution of the series outside of the U.S. and Canada.

For Freeman, the role comes in addition to BBC's Sherlock. A premiere date for season four of Sherlock has not yet been determined, but production typically only runs for three weeks, so scheduling should not be a problem. Freeman, whose credits also include the starring role in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and its upcoming sequels, as well a Love Actually and Shaun of the Dead, is repped by UTA, Creative Arts Management in the U.K., and Felker Toczek. Freeman won a BAFTA Award and Emmy nomination for his supporting turn as John Watson in BBC's Sherlock. His TV credits also include the BBC's The Office

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit