Jean Smart: They’re Working On Fargo Season 3 (INTERVIEW)

Jean Smart as the fearless Floyd Gerhardt in Season 2 of Fargo
Jean Smart as the fearless Floyd Gerhardt in Season 2 of Fargo

Fargo star Jean Smart says the team behind the show are working on a third season of the popular series.

The actress, who stars as Floyd Gerhardt in the current Season 2, revealed the news during an interview as the second series reaches its climax.

Asked whether in a third series there were any stories she would like to see, like how the Gerhardts built their empire, she replied: “It would be great to see Floyd and Otto work their way back, but I don’t know how far back they’ll go. But they are working on season three. I was hoping we’d do a flashback scene with Floyd.”

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We spoke with Smart about her incredible character Floyd as momentum builds ahead of the season’s last four episodes.

While Fargo Season One was set in 2006, the second season goes back in time to 1979 and the events which took place leading directly to the first series’ atrocities.

And it’s a fascinating story. Floyd is a farm wife, mother and Minnesota crime boss in charge of the family empire as it is increasingly under siege. With the help of her grown sons and granddaughter, she leads the charge against crime groups that have come to end them.

Series creator Noah Hawley broke the mould when making Floyd’s character. She is a fierce, unforgettable, pipe-smoking, mournful and resourceful woman.

And she will stop at nothing to keep the empire going, even if it means paying the ultimate price.

Monsters & Critics: Floyd is powerful and unshakeable, and iconic for television in many ways. What was it like to play her?

Jean Smart: It’s great to play people that complicated. Her practical side as a businesswoman comes into conflict with being a mother. But she’s seen it all, nothing can scare or faze her. But she knows if war is declared what’s going to come, and it’s not going to be happy.

She would have been iconic in the 70s, and still is in a sense. She’s a strong woman in a man’s world. She has always been surrounded by strong men; her father, the same as her father-in-law and husband, and her boys are very strong men.

She’s not cowed by anything. Her husband probably was the leader of the family – she refers to him as “my lion”. She loves him, but at the same time they had an equal partnership.

The Gerhardts, whose family empire is increasingly under siege
The Gerhardts, whose family empire is increasingly under siege

M&C: How much did you know in advance?

JS: I had no idea what was going to happen to Floyd or her family when we started. I can’t give anything away. She has to make some difficult decisions and women in general…there are some things you won’t expect. They’re all moving in their own way towards their own outcomes.

I can’t believe there are only two episodes left! I feel like we’re just getting started.

M&C: The show has aspects of Shakespearean or Greek tragedy. Was that intentional?

JS: It’s interesting, that’s how I describe it. I don’t know if Noah ever thought of it in those terms, if he has heard or read it he hasn’t objected. I do see it that way.

There is something larger, even with the realistic way its shot and acted, there is something larger than life watching that empire being pulled down and innocent lives dragged down with it.

It’s very much a tragedy.

M&C: It’s fair to say there is evil in Floyd. Why are audiences drawn to evil characters?

JS: No one is all good or bad. We like to see it. It’s cathartic to see the darker side, everything is guided by desire for something and the Gerhardts are driven and ambitious and started with nothing and they built it from there.

Floyd is practical and pragmatic; business is business, family is family. But obviously there is going to be a conflict in the two – pointed out by Fred when he says “When one of my men steps wrong, I break his arm or take his tongue. What do you want me to do with your children?” I couldn’t answer that.

As a mother, she didn’t want to lose any more kids. There is conflict, but it’s the empire. She doesn’t want to go to war but she’s not afraid to die. It’s business.

Floyd will stop at nothing to keep her family's empire above water
Floyd will stop at nothing to keep her family’s empire above water

M&C: Floyd and her son Dodd have such an interesting relationship. They’re at odds but they had that tender moment in the car. Did you discuss it with Jeffrey Donovan?

JS: I did admire Jeffrey so much, especially in the scene in the car which we were both anxious to work on because it was so powerful. Jeffrey told me one of the reasons he took the role was to do that one scene.

After she lost her eldest in the Korean War, Dodd was the next born and he would have been a special child to her. He was number two but she lost one; he felt he gained more significance in the family. She knows he’s damaged in a way, who knows how much she’s privy to how he interacted with his father.

There’s the scene when Otto took Dodd to the theatre when he was a little boy that explains why Dodd is the way he is to a certain extent. She’s in the kitchen basting a turkey while he’s in the barn torturing a guy.

She knows what’s going on, it’s business. He comes to the kitchen and makes an off colour remark and she barks at him. She loves him very much.

If she wasn’t as strong a woman as she was she would be afraid of him. She’s not afraid of him even if she knows he’s capable of dark things. She is troubled by his relationship with his daughter.

We don’t see his wife, so she’s pretty cowed by him and stays put where she is. He’s a troubled young man but he’s her boy.

M&C: If they make a third season, are there any stories you’d like to know? Like how they built the empire?

JS: It would be great to see Floyd and Otto work their way back but I don’t know how far back they’ll go. But they are working on season three. I was hoping we’d do a flashback scene with Floyd.

It’s interesting that it’s a whole new storyline and era, those little moments of connection between the Solversons and the previous scenes are for the fans. It’s a nice touch. It doesn’t change the story or your enjoyment or involvement but it is a good example of Noah’s talent.

I’m so envious of good writers and try to figure out how they do that, spin a tale with so many elements. My husband is so gripped by it. there is no A and B story – everything is the A story simultaneously and the brilliant idea of the split screen, which was done more in the late seventies and keeps you in touch with everybody.

M&C: How was the dynamic of the seventies brought into the story of Fargo?

JS: Noah has worked on the feminist sensibility of the late seventies and the racial issues and native Americans and African Americans, so it was subtle and just dropped in little tiny moments.

He makes a statement but doesn’t detract from the story. You can’t turn away from watching a trainwreck.

Fargo continues Monday at 10pm on FX. Visit the official Fargo site for more information and check our page for all the latest Fargo news.

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