'Fargo' Moves to "Bigger Canvas," New Setting for Season 2

"Our catering budget was crazy considering how many actors we had," showrunner Noah Hawley jokes to THR about the upcoming second season of the FX drama.
Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

The first season of FX's Fargo earned widespread acclaim and took home the Emmy and the Golden Globe for best miniseries, but the executive producers behind the anthology series admit it took another leap of faith to dive into the second season, which goes back thirty years and features a new cast and new story.

"We jump off a cliff and we hope and we pray," executive producer Warren Littlefield told The Hollywood Reporter at Wednesday's season two premiere. "Our DNA is Fargo. It's very dark and it's very funny, but we don’t get to learn any of the things that most television series learn in season one. … Maybe we're a little crazy, but we like those challenges."

Set in Minnesota in 1979, the series centers on a young Lou Solverson (played by Keith Carradine in season one and Patrick Wilson in season two) investigating a crime involving a local gang and a crime syndicate.

"We're a much bigger canvas. Our theme this year is the Walmart-ization of America, and in our world that means that the Kansas City crime syndicate is doing a hostile takeover of the Gerhardt crime family," said Littlefield. "We just didn’t want to follow in our own footsteps. We wanted to expand what our universe could be."

When asked about the biggest difference between season one and season two, showrunner Noah Hawley also pointed to the show's increase in scope. "Our catering budget was crazy considering how many actors we had," he said with a laugh. "I didn’t set out necessarily to tell a much bigger story, but the story I found myself telling just had a lot more moving pieces but I find that very exciting because then it's like a horse race in a way. You feel like you know who the big players are and who's going to make it to the end but there are a lot of permutations so it keeps the audience guessing."

That made for a big casting challenge. Unlike other anthology series like American Horror Story and American Crime, which use many of the same actors for multiple seasons, Hawley opted not to bring back any of Fargo's season one ensemble. "There was a great word of mouth out there in the creative community," said Littlefield. "It's fair to say people were knocking down our door."

The season two cast includes Ted Danson, Jean Smart, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst, in her first series regular role. "You're already coming on to a well-oiled machine," she said. "You never get to sign on to something that you already know has a great pedigree."

Plemons, fresh off his turn in Black Mass, embraced the role on multiple levels. After gaining weight to play Whitey Bulger's associate Kevin Weeks in the biopic, he kept the extra pounds on to play a small town butcher's assistant in the series. He admits he had been "looking forward" to shedding the extra weight before signing on to Fargo.

"Eventually it becomes work," said Plemons, who called donuts his go-to weight gain snack. "Eventually it starts to feel like you're just lugging around another person."

Donuts, as well as Midwestern favorites like fried chicken, biscuits and waffles, were also on hand at the post-screening premiere party, which was held at Le Jardin.

Fargo's second season premieres Monday at 10 p.m. on FX.