Billy Bob Thornton talks about his incredible run on the anthology series ‘Fargo’ while admitting he’d love to see the show get a second season from FX….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
When Emmy season starts heating up in early July with nominations going out, there’s no doubt Billy Bob Thornton’s name will be near the top of the list for his picture perfect portrayal of hitman Lorne Malvo in the anthology series ‘Fargo’ on FX.
From start to finish, Thornton’s work on ‘Fargo’ was unbelievably good as he smiled one minute and pulled out a gun to dust off the competition the next. What was truly and genuinely engaging about the performance was his almost surreal even tempered nature while pretending to be a pastor all the way to a showdown with a chained up assailant who wanted him dead.
While the plot points in ‘Fargo’ focused mostly around three characters all season long, Thornton’s constant presence was the glue that brought the show together, and now that it’s over the veteran actor can look back on the experience with a certain fondness, especially considering the kind of material he was working with courtesy of show runner Noah Hawley. The series was based on the movie of the same name from creators Joel and Ethan Coen, and while there were always going to be comparisons to the original work, Thornton had an even deeper perspective because he worked with the dynamic duo brothers on films such as ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ and ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’.
It was reading the original script that got Thornton on board while recognizing that the TV show was really paying homage to the film by carrying on the legacy the Coen brothers started more than a decade earlier.
“When I read the pilot script, I could see how good it was,” Thornton said recently. “I think if I had just heard about the idea without having read it, I think maybe I would have been a little more worried about it. But as it turns out when they met with me and offered me the role, I read it right away.
“That dispelled any concerns I might have because it almost looked like it was written by the Coen brothers to me. It was very, very much like the movie in that way, so yes, I thought Noah really hit the mark. I didn’t worry about it so much; but if I hadn’t read it right away, I probably would have been concerned.”
The character of Malvo was the focal point for much of the show despite the fact that he was really the antagonist of all the other leads in the series. Whether it was Deputy Solverson attempted to find out who this Malvo character was, Gus living with regret of the chance encouter he had with Malvo or Lester’s entire life being turned upside down because of one random meeting with Malvo, he touched everybody’s lives during ‘Fargo’ and created a world of chaos in the mean time.
Because Malvo was inherently an evil character, he’s been compared to the Devil in the series, but Thornton actually believes there’s a duality to the man despite his man bad inclinations. Malvo was certainly capable of doing evil deeds, but in reality Thornton sees him as just bringing out the real people hiding underneath their outwards personalities.
So in a way, Malvo was The Devil as much as he was God.
“I think Malvo in a way, I’ve said before, people say he’s like the devil. I think he’s more like God and the devil,” Thornton said. “I think it’s almost as if whether he knows it or not, Malvo is there to facilitate people’s true selves. It’s like he brings out in people who they really are.
“He’s very impatient with people who are stupid or if they’re ridiculous. Malvo likes to get to the root of what everything is about and sometimes he has to mess with people in order to do that. But I think Malvo symbolizes that sort of spirit in the world that ultimately brings to the surface who people really are, and I think that’s probably the best way I could put it.”
The 10-episode series was critically hailed by virtually every publication whether online or in print, and Thornton’s work was a major part of the show’s success. While the original plan for the show was to run for one single season as a 10-episode anthology, the reaction from viewers has almost demanded another run with a new cast of characters.
While there’s no chance Thornton could return as Malvo, he would love to see ‘Fargo’ get a second season because there are plenty of stories to tell and this world is rich with vibrant characters and enthralling plot points. What started out as a series based on a Coen brothers movie became an animal unto itself and now just about everybody would love to see another run of ‘Fargo’ on FX.
“Oh sure. As an audience member I’d love to see it,” Thornton said. “Our particular ten hours was designed as one story, so it does have a beginning, middle and an end. And if they did do another one, it would be a new story with some new characters and that kind of thing, but absolutely I would love to see it.”
There’s been no official word from FX whether a second season of ‘Fargo’ could be ordered, but with Thornton likely leading a pack of award nominations and possible wins, it’s hard to imagine this show won’t come back for at least another run. You betcha.