Nearly three years will have passed by the time Season 4 of FX’s “Fargo” premieres in April, and audiences should prepare themselves for a version of the series never before seen.
Not only has “Fargo” left the wilds of Alberta to film stateside — in Chicago, specifically — but the season is set firmly in the past, lending the show some period piece bonafides it only flirted with in prior seasons. And it would be remiss to not mention the most significant adjustment to the DNA of the series: the diversification of a cast whose pallor too-often resembled the the snowy fields of winter in Minnesota.
Also, there are so many hats.
“This year, we’re really looking at the origins of the American capital crime, which is the exploitation of cheap labor,” Hawley explained of the upcoming season. “It took a long time for those people working to break into what we consider mainstream America.”
The creator pushed his description of the season a step further, digging into his choice to set the story in the 1950’s.
“The story of any family is the story of America. History is a living thing. The way we keep it alive is to tell stories about it and keep it in our mind and keep it fresh,” he said.
“Fargo” Season 4 — or Year Four, using the series’ vernacular — focuses on two criminal syndicates in Kansas City who’ve struck an uneasy peace by uncommon means. The Cannon and Fadda families swapped their youngest sons, meaning Loy Cannon (Chris Rock) has to raise his rival’s child as his own — and vice versa. But when the head of the K.C. mafia unexpectedly dies, everything changes. As the official synopsis states, “It’s a story of immigration and assimilation, and the things we do for money. And as always, a story of basically decent people who are probably in over their heads. You know, Fargo.”
Joining Rock in the cast are Ben Whishaw (as Rabbi Milligan), Jessie Buckley (Oraetta Mayflower), Jack Huston (Odis Weff), Jason Schwartzman (Josto Fadda), and Andrew Bird (Thurman Smutney). Francesco Acquaroli, Gaetano Bruno, Salvatore Esposito, E’myri Crutchfield, Jeremie Harris, and Anji White are set to play various members of these interconnected families.
Hawley will once again serve as showrunner, writer, and director, while Joel & Ethan Coen and Warren Littlefield also serve as executive producers. “Fargo” is produced by MGM Television and FX Productions, with MGM Television serving as the lead studio and international distributor.
At the center of Hawley’s story is Rock, for whom the writer-director penned the role. In fact, the comedian was signed to the project months before Hawley had a single script to show him.
“You start with nothing, alone, and you have to fight your way up and hold on to what you have,” the showrunner said of stand-up comedy, where Rock made his name; a description that also echoes the themes resonating throughout “Fargo”.
“Racism’s been very good to me, Rock joked, outlining commonalities between his own work and major elements in Season 4. But that’s not to say that there aren’t certain aspects of the role challenging the actor.
“‘Fargo’ is funny like a Scorsese movie,” he explained. “It’s always within the character, within the story. That’s something I have to pay attention to.”
And it’s not just the tone that Rock is trying to be mindful of. Shooting the series is intricate, with the camera constantly moving. It’s not like comedic acting, with its close-ups and punchlines.
“It’s like the New England Patriots,” Rock said. “You have to run the route and the ball will be there. It’s not just about running fast. You have to run the route for it to work.”
Speaking of work, Rock stated that it was back to set for him come Monday, when filming begins on Episode 5. And even if the actor isn’t excited about returning to work, Littlefield is. The executive producer of “The Handmaid’s Tale” shared that returning to “Fargo” was like coming home.
Home isn’t what it used to be for the series, however. Hawley expanded on the ways his filmmaking has grown and changed since Season 1, when he felt the need to be a bit slavish to the Coen Brothers original vision on the film.
“Starting in Season 2 and Season 3, I started to let my own personality come through,” he said, referencing extensive use of long lens photography throughout Season 4. “At this point, I feel like we’ve earned the right to tell our own story.”
“Fargo” Season 4 premieres Sunday, April 19 at 10 p.m. ET on FX with two new episodes. Watch the trailer below.