When Fargo creator Noah Hawley took actor Jason Schwartzman to a fancy restaurant for lunch in an attempt to persuade him to take a role in the fourth season of the wildly popular series, they barely made it through the entrée.
“I remember having a lunch with Jason where I was trying to talk [him] into being in Fargo, and halfway through the meal, I realised he was trying to talk me into letting him be in Fargo,” grins Hawley.
“That’s true; I didn’t realise that it was so obvious, but that is true,” laughs Schwartzman, who’s appearing in a Zoom panel alongside Hawley and Fargo co-stars, Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley and E’myri Crutchfield.
“I love the show – it’s my favourite show. And it is such a unique situation to love something that exists, and then you get to become a part of it,” Schwartzman muses.
“It’s like if you love a band, and then, all of a sudden, they say, ‘Would you like to come play on the next record?’ It’s a very unusual situation.”
“To say it was a dream come true would be an understatement.”
In season four, Schwartzman plays Josto Fadda, a hot-headed Italian mob boss with an anger management issue, when an untimely death thrusts him into the family’s top job.
Things go a bit haywire, however, when Josto’s clearly unhinged younger brother, Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito), arrives from Italy and tries to put his very violent stamp on things.
“Things get a bit crazy,” laughs Schwartzman.
Schwartzman has said he’s aware of the parallels to The Godfather; his mother, Talia Shire, acted in the Godfather movies – directed by her brother (and Schwartzman’s uncle), Francis Ford Coppola. But Schwartzman says the story is less about the Mafia or crime and more to do with power and the siblings [Josto and Gaetano] and how power is handed down through generations.
Then there’s the fact that the Fadda family’s criminal stranglehold is under threat from a Black criminal organisation led by Loy Cannon (Chris Rock). The Faddas and Cannons engage in a bizarre ritual by which each family trades a son to be raised by the other family, in a sort of peace-keeping plan. Still, bloodshed is inevitable.
“These Americans who are on the outside of the American experience upon whom America is laying this burden of proving themselves to be Americans without actually giving them a way to do that, that is a Kafkaesque situation in which there’s no humour, just violence, right?” says Hawley.
For Schwartzman, the whole Fargo experience has been “a dream come true”.
“To get this part was so exciting and very much unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” he says. “And just also the amount of time we had to work on it, to really – a series, to invest that kind of time and work constantly for that many months with this character, it was so fun and so illuminating, and, yeah, I just am so grateful to have been a part of it.”
Fargo airs weekly at 9:30pm Thursdays on SBS. New episodes will be available on SBS On Demand each week on the same day as broadcast. Seasons 1–3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.