Make way on the blogosphere for the next big movie star killing it on TV. Billy Bob Thornton will soon be seen in FX’s one-hour drama “Fargo,” which premieres in the U.S. on April 15, 2014, and trust me when I tell you that you will be talking about his character, Lorne Malvo, a drifter who arrives in Fargo, Minnesota and starts to take a keen interest in its quirky denizens.
“Fargo” is a 10-episode “limited drama series” that borrows the setting, tone and themes of the classic Coen Brothers film, but not the actual characters or plot. Think of it as an “inspired by” adaptation. You will certainly notice shades of the film’s story engines and personalities (a pregnant woman, a nebbish salesman, a police officer and their spouse, a dodgy assassin, moments of sudden violence, and lots of snow and Winter headwear), but it is a wholly original story.
I’m excited about this approach. Since there was no way they could get away with re-casting and re-telling such a classic film for TV (And who would have wanted that?), they fleshed out the world of Fargo while staying true to its essence. The creative team is playing in the Coen Brothers’ sandbox, and it works.
The show boasts a fantastic cast, including Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Glenn Howerton, Joey King, Alison Tolman, Kate Walsh and Oliver Platt, but, trust me when I say that Thornton is the one who will give you chills.
It helps, of course, that he’s given lots of fantastic dialogue, courtesy of writer and showrunner, Noah Hawley (Bones, My Generation). Hawley is the only writer on the series — could this be a trend, considering HBO’s True Detective having just one writer and one director? (Nick Pizzolatto and Carey Fukunaga, respectively) We shall see.
What sticks out for me with the Lorne Malvo character, is he has such a pronounced code of justice that he becomes a proselytizer and mentor in the name of it. He cannot stand seeing someone not living their lives by his code, and he’s eager to ‘help’ them in his own skewed, sadistic manner. If you’re into character archetypes, I would go so far as to say Malvo is a Herald, a Mentor AND the Antagonist all rolled into one scary individual.
Note: this behind-the-scenes video contains mild spoilers…
I hope to discuss “Fargo” with you around the virtual watercooler.
Good luck and happy writing,
Related: More on TV Writing
“Dan has a no-nonsense approach to screenplay analysis that cuts through the bull and delivers the goods. A must read for serious screenwriters.”
-J. Stephen Maunder, Writer/Director