Article taken from IGN.
Fargo’s second season on FX was nothing short of a revelation. With many fans and critics even feeling that it surpassed the first season in terms of performances and storytelling. A big part of that praise was due to Jean Smart’s portrayal of stern, sturdy crime family matriarch Floyd Gerhardt.
With Fargo: The Complete Second Season now on Blu-ray shelves, I spoke to Smart about her time on the series, her take on Floyd’s ultimate fate, and which co-stars she wishes she could have had more scenes with.
Plus, I asked her a bit about her upcoming FX series, Legion – based on the X-Men/Marvel comics character, which also comes from Fargo creator/writer Noah Hawley.
IGN: Was it hard for you to say goodbye to this character when it was all over?
Jean Smart: It was hard, yeah. We all felt that way. It was not quite enough. Noah Hawley always described the show as a 10-hour movie and, obviously, with a movie you have to say goodbye to that character. But this like eating just one potato chip. This was a hard one.
IGN: How much did you know about Floyd’s ultimate fate ahead of time?
Smart: I had no idea really. None. We all pretty much knew how many episodes we were going to be doing so that sort of told you…something. Nothing big though. Or they’d tell us which episode we’d be in.
IGN: What did you think of Floyd’s fate then? When it all came to pass?
Smart: I thought it was very interesting. Of course, I wanted to take 20 people with me on the way out so that was a bit disappointing [laughs]. At first, I said I wanted to do in Kirsten [Dunst] because of what she did to my kid. But it was not meant to be apparently.
IGN: What do you think Floyd thought happened to Rye? She never really got confirmation on that.
Smart: I think she pretty much bought Dodd’s story. That he had been done in by the Kansas City syndicate. And that it was done by a guy named “The Butcher.” I mean, it was actually kind of amusing. Morbidly dark humor. Poor Ed the butcher from down the way gets mistaken for a hitman called the Butcher. Or gets falsely built up as one. But I think she believed it. Ot, at least she needed to believe it.
Smart: I think she was very much his partner and his confidant. I think they probably had a very good partnership, but he was definitely the boss. No question about that. I remember she referred to him as her “lion.” That’s how she saw him. But she didn’t hesitate to immediately step up when her sons couldn’t step up after he couldn’t function anymore. That’s partly due to the way she was raised. The world in which she was raised. You just do what needs to be done.
IGN: Did she ever have aspirations to lead the family?
Smart: I don’t think she had aspirations one way or the other, but I think she knew she was more capable than her boys at that time. And I think she meant what she said to Dodd when she told him it wasn’t his time yet, but when it was she would happily step aside. I don’t think she was lying there. She was hoping that he would mature a little.
IGN: Fargo has a large ensemble and some of the stories, at times, can be very isolated from each other. Was there anyone you wish you’d worked with more? Or at all?
Smart: Oh sure. You know, Kirsten and Jesse [Plemons]. I would have loved to have had a scene with them. I was really glad I got to have a scene with Ted [Danson]. He was so great on the show and I’d just never seen him be so brilliant. And so we had the one scene in the police station and that was fun. Except that I had to smoke that damn pipe all day long. But also Nick Offerman. I would have loved to have had a scene with Nick. Just about anybody on that show that I didn’t have a scene with I would have loved to work with. I thought it was a spectacular cast from top to bottom. My husband, too, is very critical and he said that there wasn’t a false note or a false step. There wasn’t a weak link anywhere.
IGN: What did you think of Floyd’s wardrobe?
Smart: [laughs] Well, what did you think of it, Matt?
IGN: I thought it was very interesting. I thought it was very unassuming and stoic and it almost worked to disguise who she was as someone whose basically raised a generation of criminals.
Smart: Yeah. It was what you would wear if you had little-to-no vanity and worked on a ranch. In 1979. In that age, in that time. Our hair and makeup and wardrobe people were just amazing. And extremely helpful to all of us in developing our characters.
IGN: How much did you know about Floyd’s actual backstory going in?
Smart: Not a lot. Most of it I filled in myself. But the advantage was that Noah gave me a scene to audition with. And it was the scene with Joe Bulo – Brad Garrett’s character. And to me, that scene told me everything I needed to know about that woman. So I went into the project very prepared mostly because of just that one scene.
IGN: Speaking of Noah Hawley, you’re going to be on Legion.
Smart: Yes! I am.
IGN: Is he the reason you signed on for this?
Smart: He is the reason. He is the one reason. I am extremely flattered. It’ll be interesting. This will be very different from Fargo.
IGN: To my knowledge, you’ve never done a comic book-based property before. What are your feelings about it?
Smart: People keep saying that to me and I keep thinking “What? It’s comic book-based? What are they talking about?” I just trust Noah, you know.
IGN: You’re playing a therapist named Melanie. Presumedly David Haller’s therapist. Is there anything you can tell us about her?
Smart: We haven’t talked a lot about it. We’ve only talked a little bit. I only come in at the very very very end of the pilot. Which we’re going to shoot at the end of the month. And then we’re going to have until July to talk about it and figure things out. I don’t have the kind of information going into this that I had going into Fargo and playing Floyd. Simply because I didn’t audition for this. I didn’t have a big scene like that to read. But when he gets some more of the writing done, he’ll show it to me and we can talk about it.