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

Billy Bob Thornton
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Billy Bob Thornton's slice of '60s Americana, "Jayne Mansfield's Car," left U.S. critics cold. But Euro scribes -- especially the Germans -- adored it, many calling the Robert Duvall-John Hurt starrer the "best American film of the year."

Billy Bob Thornton is heading to FX's Fargo.

The Oscar winner has been tapped to play Lorne Malvo, the rootless, manipulative man who meets a small-town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Steve Buscemi played a similar role in the 1996 feature. 

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.

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Fargo hails from My Generation's Noah Hawley, who will pen the script as well as executive produce. Additionally, Joel and Ethan Coen, the writers, directors and producers behind the film starring Frances McDormandWilliam H. Macy and 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.  

Production on the effort from MGM Television and FX Productions is set to begin in the fall, which will position it 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.

The news comes as FX Networks makes an aggressive push into limited series, with a recently launched division run by HBO vet Gina Balian. (She reports to Nick Grad, and Eric Schrier, FX Networks' presidents of original programming.) Earlier this summer, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told reporters that the plan would be to do one limited series in the next fiscal year, Fargo, then two a year after that and three the year following. "We're debating whether to put one on FX and one on FXM or both on FXM -- or both on FX,” he said at the time, adding: “We haven't decided yet, partially, again, because we don't know what we're picking up and where we think is most appropriate distribution-wise."

This marks Thornton's first return to a regular small-screen role since the 1990s series Hearts Afire and The Outsiders. Thornton, who won an Oscar for penning Sling Blade and earned nominations for acting roles in that as well as A Simple Plan, is repped by WME, Media Talent Group and Myman Abell.