12:34pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Fargo' Creator Reveals First Season 4 Details
Within the Fargo universe, there is a book: The History of True Crime in the Mid West, containing tales of crimes both major and minor, across a wide breadth of American history. When the book opens its pages once again, the next chapter will fall firmly into the past.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Fargo creator Noah Hawley opened up about his vision for the fourth season of the FX crime series, expected to arrive in 2019 (though it hasn't officially been renewed yet). As with the second season of Fargo, which owes its origins to the 1996 Coen Brothers movie of the same name, Hawley plans to tell a story set in the past.
"I now have an idea that's less in the corner of my eye and more in front of me," says Hawley. "I don't have a lot of time right now to focus on it. What I can say is that it will be another period piece."
Thus far, each season of Fargo has focused on new sets of characters in different periods of time. Seasons one and three covered contemporary settings, with some characters crossing over between the two. The second season of Fargo was set in the late 1970s, partly following the story of a younger version of police officer Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), played in season one by Keith Carradine. For the fourth season, Hawley plans on once again digging deeper into the Midwest region's history.
"More and more as I think about telling stories in this vein and what the original film is about, these are really American stories and stories about the American landscape, and the things that people do for money," he says. "I feel like I have a very interesting and exciting direction to go in. I'm trying to find the time to get it down on paper."
With its playful narrative structure, few moments in time are off-limits in the world of Fargo. (Indeed, few moments in space are off-limits as well, as the alien-tinged second season made abundantly clear.) Having already told a story set in the late '70s, how far back in time does Hawley wish to travel? Could a full season of Fargo take place as early as the 1700s or 1800s, for instance?
"I think it could, as long as there's something unique to say about it," says Hawley. "On some level, there's a good joke in the idea that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I don't know if there's 10 episodes in that or not! But if you look at the history of the region and the waves of migration and people coming in, and the things people do for money … there's something interesting to making a period version of it."
Hawley feels confident in the idea thanks in large part to the story he told in the second season, involving two small-town locals who become embroiled in a mob war. "You have that distance and you really understand the time period and what the story was," he says about the advantages baked into Fargo as a period piece, "whether it was the end of the '70s and [the Ronald Reagan presidency] was right around the corner, but nobody could see it yet, and what that meant and both the comedy and drama of hindsight.
"I'm always interested in trying to expand the definition [of the series]," he continues. "Fargo can be this, but can it also be this? The only reason to make another one is if you're going to do something different. We've made 30 hours of the show so far, and the last thing I ever want is for someone to say, 'You know, it's Fargo. They do their Fargo thing, and it's funny.' If you have this tone of voice and this ability to channel this Coen brothers sensibility, you just don't want to repeat yourself, because they never do."
Though a fourth season of Fargo isn't expected until 2019, Hawley has another series returning to FX very soon: Legion, which is set to premiere its second season April 3. He also has plans to develop the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat's Cradle as a TV series on FX, where Hawley has an overall deal. Even in light of Disney's proposed acquisition of Fox (which would include FX and is awaiting regulatory approval), Hawley says he's as confident in and committed to his relationship with FX as ever.
"I obviously have had a lot of conversations with [FX president] John Landgraf and everyone over there," he says of the $52.4 billion deal that would send assets including FX, its studio and 20th Century Fox Television, among others, to Disney. "FX is such a distinct and unique brand. I can't imagine that Disney would be interested in eradicating it or watering it down and turning it into something it's not. The FX brand has a real value to it. I don't get the sense, nor have I had any conversations that lead me to believe this, that anything is going to change very much.
"That being said, I'm sure it's important for the network's value to be as clear as possible, and that the shows they put on and the talent they work with is locked in and reliable," Hawley continues. "I certainly have had nothing but a great experience with the network. I'm committed to making shows there for a long time, if I want to make more Legion and more Fargo and Cat's Cradle. I'm very optimistic. It's going to continue being business as usual."
What's your take on Fargo season four as a period piece? Sound off in the comments below, and keep checking THR.com/Fargo for more information.