“It was great to play a grown-ass man,” Rock laughs, during a Zoom call with the show’s cast and series creator Noah Hawley from Los Angeles.
“It was also great to play somebody my age, too. I kind of got really famous at 35 or 37, and everything that’s been offered to me, it’s like I’m kind of like a man-boy. So, it was great to actually play a grown man, so thank you, Noah!”
In the show’s stellar fourth season, Rock plays Loy Cannon, the head of a Black gang looking to gain the upper hand against an Italian mob in 1950 Kansas.
Rock has been widely praised for his performance, which has shown off an entirely different side to the popular comedian.
Rock says it amuses him that fans and critics have been surprised that he can play a “serious” role. The issue, he says, hasn’t been about his lack of dramatic chops, it’s been a lack of opportunity.
“No one ever offers me decent parts,” he laughs. “I’m attracted to great storytelling. I believe everything that’s good is good because it’s taken seriously. I don’t really like the term serious acting. I think Jim Carrey in Dumber and Dumber is acting funny very seriously. You know what I mean? With this, I’m attracted to the storytelling, the filmmaking, the writing … that’s what I’m always going to be attracted to.”
Indeed, Rock – who cites Goodfellas “as one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen” – says there’s still a hell of a lot of laughs in Fargo.
“No one ever offers me decent parts”
“I mean the comedy is earned. It’s not a thing where someone’s trying to be funny. It’s just life’s funny if you stick with it long enough. There’s a lot of great humour in Fargo; it’s better than most comedies on television and better than most dramas on television – all dramas on television. Most good things have both.”
To play the dapper Loy, Rock looked no further than the example set by his own father and grandfather.
“I know Loy Cannon very well – he’s a guy I’ve met,” Rock says. “It’s not like he’s a guy I’ve got to do extensive research on. So, my grandfather would fall under this category; my father would fall close to the category. So, these are people I’ve met; people I can see even now. I didn’t have to turn to some fictitious character. That’s what I’m trying to say. I know this guy very well.”
Rock says when he initially read the scripts, he was buoyed by Hawley’s deliberate focus on Black lives. The subsequent racial reckoning that has swept across the US in recent months has given him further hope.
“I’m encouraged by everything that’s gone on outside of the show business world. A year ago, when I read the scripts even before all of these protests, they were pretty powerful then. So, are they more powerful now? Yeah. It happens sometimes,” he says.
“Again, you know, jokes I told 20 years ago, people are like, ‘You are so on.’ You know, these things happen when you’re in the right spot. And Fargo and Noah’s generally in the right spot. And here we are.”
Season 4 of Fargo premieres on SBS at 8.30pm Thursday 8 October. Episodes air weekly and will stream at SBS On Demand on the same day they go to air. Seasons 1–3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.