The Season 2 finale of Fargo last night had a lot of dead bodies, disappointed ambitions and a Walter Winchell shout-out. With multiple Emmy wins in its first season, the widely acclaimed FX show based on the 1996 Oscar-winning film of the same name from Joel and Ethan Coen looks poised to perhaps repeat some awards glory in Season 2. Last week, the reigning Golden Globe champ got more HFPA love with nominations for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television as well as noms for actors Kirsten Dunst and Patrick Wilson.
Despite the high hopes for that January 10 ceremony, showrunner Noah Hawley says not to expect to see any of the cast from Season 1 or the Season 2 in the next installment of Fargo. In fact, it may be longer than expected before the FX series returns for its third season.
That all comes as the Hawley, who recently inked a new overall deal with FX, digs deeper into Fargo Season 3, gets ready to start on the Marvel series Legion early next year, and finds time to write a miniseries adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle.
DEADLINE: Right up until the end last night, so much of Season 2 of Fargo was about connecting to Season 1. How much of that are we going to see in Season 3?
HAWLEY: I think that the challenge is always to continue to try to do something similar but different. Not just similar but different from the movie Fargo, but also ourselves, so I love the idea that what we showed with the second year that Fargo can also be a bigger crime epic. That it is also still able to embody the same values and beliefs and feelings that the movie had while telling bigger story.
DEADLINE: So you’re going even bigger for Season 3?
HAWLEY: I feel like our third year will probably be a more intimate story. It won’t have the scale of the second year. For me Fargo always begins with a catalytic moment. In the first year we had two men (Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton) in an emergency room — one of them was a very civilized man and the other was anything but. In the second year, it was a women (Dunst) driving home with a man stuck in her windshield. So it’s who are those men? Who is that woman? Who is that man stuck in the windshield? So it is a similar dynamic but, as I’ve said, a more contemporary story.
DEADLINE: Why do you keep moving the time periods? Season 2 was set in 1979, Season 1 in 2006 and now Season 3 will be 2010. Is there a dramatic reason?
HAWLEY: Because we say this is a true story, we always need that sense that enough time has passed that, you know, they finally figured out what actually happened.
DEADLINE: There was over a year break between the end of Season 1 and the start of Season 2, so are we looking at a similar or large break for Season 3?
HAWLEY: A bit more, Season 3 will debut in 2017.
DEADLINE: Why so long?
HAWLEY: It’s a question of quality, I think. It’s a question of our process. We sit down and we break the whole season and then we write about eight of the 10 scripts all before we start shooting. That allows us to prep all 10 hours like a movie and then we know everything that happens, every set we need to build, every location we need to find, and to really have a sense of how to cast it by really knowing the journey the characters go on.
DEADLINE: And is it essential that any Fargo journey be a winter one?
HAWLEY: Well, another component of it is that I really feel that winter in that region is a huge part of the identity of the story. This year we had a warmer winter and because of our schedule we ended up going into spring, which was nice to see. But I feel like we need to shoot this next year in winter and as a result, because we are half through this winter and we would never be able to write it in time, therefore we are going to shoot next winter. I have another show to launch in the interim with Legion. Also, my hope is that there is an event quality to the show so if the idea is that we’re just going to premiere every year on the same day, how are we not just a television show?
DEADLINE: With that attitude and the fact that Fargo is an anthology show, how long can you see it going on, especially now that you have other shows in the pipeline?
HAWLEY: We’re going to make them as long as we feel we can equal or top ourselves. And the minute we can’t we’re not going to make them any more, but it takes time to do something that quantitatively ambitious as what we’re going for. We don’t have unlimited resources so they only way we can fit this much show into 85 days of production is to be very efficient and know exactly what we are doing.
DEADLINE: To that, how far along are you in planning out the third season or thinking who you might want to cast?
HAWLEY: I’ve written a first script, but for me the characters always come first and then we think about who we want to cast. Right now, we are about halfway through breaking the story. So we’ll wrap the writers’ room in February or March and then everyone will go off and write. We have about six to eight months to write scripts but the bar only gets higher each time we do this, so I’ll take all the time I can get to really make sure we’re doing something original, exiting and surprising.
DEADLINE: What I found very original in Season 2 was the way you guys used the fallout from Vietnam and the coming of Ronald Reagan as a duel backdrop for your characters. Is that something you’ll employ in Season 3’s 2010 with the proliferation of digital technology and the consequence on our culture?
HAWLEY: Well, one of the things that is very interesting to me is in this modern moment where everyone photographs their meals and posts them online is a very confessional and very much about this desire to express every thought in a public way, literally the word “selfie” is a term. That’s the opposite, on many levels, of the way that the region as sort of dictated by the movie that Joel and Ethan Coen made is — very Lutheran, very pragmatic, very humble. So the idea of the Minnesota Selfie, in terms of our show, is a very interesting idea to explore.
HAWLEY: We’re a franchise that is built around the idea that tragedy inherently comes from an inability to communicate. So how do you in the era of the overshare tell a story about people whose instinct is to do the opposite? I don’t know yet how that becomes the crime story in the way that 1979 became very much the times being distilled into a crime story, I haven’t yet got the dynamic of it. But I think that’s interesting and whatever story you tell has to resonate with people in the moment so we’re always looking for ourselves in the stories that we live and watch and how to live in this world.
DEADLINE: How has the world of Fargo evolved for you from Season 1?
HAWLEY: Well there no rules and I’m just making it up as I go along, and like everything you end up trusting your instincts as to whether an homage to the Coens in a particular episode feels like too little or too much or stylistic elements or whether to put a UFO in the show. It all has to make to sense to me, but just like the audience I’m always discovering more. It’s such a fun world and voice to write in, so every time they let me do another one, I get very excited.
DEADLINE: So, are we going to see a UFO in Season 3?
HAWLEY: It’s not my intention to put one in but they just ended up in there. Seriously, if there’s a reason to, yes, but I’m not trying to mess with anyone. If we repeat ourselves on that level, it means we’re out of ideas.