Fargo: Chapter 4 arrived on TV in the wake of a summer in which the Black Lives Matter movement swelled following the killing of George Floyd, and a divided nation of red and blue barreling toward the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
For Fargo’s fourth season, creator Noah Hawley chose the crossroads of Kansas City, MO in 1950, where the end of two migrations converged: Blacks from the South and European immigrants.
Two mob families in the city, one led by Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon and the other by Jason Schwartzman’s green Josto Fadda, battle for control of their piece of the American dream; an alternate economy of exploitation, graft and drugs. The generations of such crime families, in an effort to keep peace, often trade their youngest sons between them.
Rock’s Cannon is a fierce side of the comedian we’ve never seen before. The four-time Primetime Emmy winner doesn’t play an acerbic, violent mob leader, nor one filled with tantrums, but a cool and calculated one as he looks to increase his territory in the city with the aid of his consigliere Doctor Senator played by Glynn Turman.
Talking about his inspiration for Cannon, Rock said at Deadline’s Contenders Television award-season event that “He’s kind of my grandfather. He’s kind of my uncles. He wasn’t a guy I hadn’t met. He wasn’t a guy I hadn’t spent time with. I know loud gangsters, I know quiet gangsters. I knew a guy, who was one of the leaders of the Crips who ran it from a wheelchair, was a paraplegic [Mike Concepcion].
“I knew there is not one type of gangster,” said Rock, “I wrapped my mind around it, and thought of myself, ‘OK, what if I went this path, what would it take for me to be a scary guy?’, and that’s where I went.”
At the heart of Fargo: Chapter 4 is the origin story of gangster Mike Milligan, who was played by Bokeem Woodbine in Season 2 of the FX series. Milligan is the son of Cannon, and traded as insurance to the rival Fadda family.
“I wrote this guy, but where did he come from?” says Hawley about his desire to tell Milligan’s story.
“Well, he can’t have been raised in a Black family in the Midwest There’s too many elements to him. This image popped into my head about this trade — the two families trading their youngest son. Not only was he traded by Chris’ family to the Italian family, he wasn’t raised by the Italian family, he was raised by the Irish guy, who was the mutt of the Italians, who himself had been traded in an earlier deal. This idea, that Mike Milligan was raised by an lrish man in an Italian family with a Black father, it sounded like America on some level,” added the Emmy-winning EP, who took a 2014 trophy for Fargo in the outstanding miniseries category.
While Hawley hasn’t fully fleshed out Season 5 of Fargo yet, he knows his jumping-off point. In a word he described the next season of the series inspired by the Coen brothers’ multi-Oscar-winning movie as “contemporary.”
“I don’t think anyone will write about Minnesota in the same way again after the events of the last couple of years. It’s definitely not going back to ‘Oh look at these jolly carefree white folk in their small towns.’ It feels like, we have to show the world as it is and tell our stories within that world. But I don’t’ have a hard and fast story yet, but those are the elements going through my mind.”
Turman, who won an Emmy in the Guest Actor Drama series for HBO’s In Treatment in 2008, was also on the Contenders panel today.
Check out the conversation in the video above.