FX has set a premiere date for "Fargo", the small-screen take on the Coen brothers' 1996 crime film. The limited series starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton will debut Tuesday, April 15 at 10 P.M.
At the TCA winter press tour, executive producer and writer Noah Hawley stressed that the TV show was established in the trademark humor, dialect, murder and "Minnesota nice" of the original work, but it stood on its own for anyone who has not seen the film.
"After a season or two of the show, people who see the movie might say that was a great episode of 'Fargo'. Each season is a separate true crime story from that region. The movie now fits into the series as another true crime story from the region," Hawley said. "I don't think you need to it watch before [watching the series], but I think you should watch it because it's a great movie, but you don't need to."
Joel & Ethan Coen are credited as executive producers on the TV show, but they're not directly involved with the production. "TV is not their medium," said Hawley, but revealed that the filmmaker duo gave their blessing. "They told me to go ahead and make my show. We showed them the first show and Ethan said, 'Yeah, good.' "
Thornton, who has worked with the Coen brothers on "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "Bad Santa", added, "When Ethan says, 'Yeah, good,' he's over the moon."
The actor also talked about what lured him into doing the show. In addition to the "flawless" script for the pilot, he praised how TV industry had developed so much in the past few years. "The entertainment business can pretend all they want but the movie world has changed drastically, particularly in last five to six years. When I was coming up, if you went to TV from film, it meant something was wrong, so you may as well be on Hollywood Squares. Now it's the opposite," he said.
"For actors who really want to do good dramatic work or dark humor and drama, you have to do it on TV. It's great way to develop character over time," Thornton continued. "What's on TV now is actually like the movies that we were doing. It's inevitable that actors are going to go to TV now...If you want to be an actor, get on a really good series on TV because that's where it's at."
Dishing on the storyline, Hawley revealed the show would follow Freeman's character Lester Nygaard after making a shocking decision in the premiere episode. "Joel and Ethan said polite society is often the most violent, and I was interested in taking a man like Lester, who is so squeezed by life that it's pushing him to the point where he might snap," he said. "How does that man deal with the aftermath of that?...There's an infection that takes place between Lorne and Lester and...we're heading for a big collision at the end of the thing."
Lester is described as a small-town insurance salesman henpecked by his wife whose life is changed when he meets Lorne Malvo, who sets him on a path of destruction. Thornton takes on the role of Lorne. Colin Hanks joins the cast as Duluth Police Deputy Gus Grimly who must choose between his own personal safety and his duty as a policeman in investigating the case, while Allison Tolman stars as Molly Solverson, an ambitious deputy.