Remote Controlled: ‘Fargo’ Cast and Creators on ‘Unpredictable’ Season 3

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Fargo’s creator Noah Hawley, star Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and executive producer Warren Littlefield.

The series is no stranger to ambitious challenges — and this season’s challenge was to make a mid-April air date rather than last season’s in October, they revealed.

“It just meant there was really no room for error, and if I looked at a cut and I needed something, I had to get it right away,” Hawley said. “There was a mad scramble to go shoot more material for an episode like three days later.”

Despite wrapping the series close to airtime, Littlefield said they were able to seamlessly create Season 3. “Everyone rises to it,” he said. “There’s something magical that happens for all the cast members and the crew of we’re in the dead of winter in Calgary and we’re doing ‘Fargo,’ and so, let’s go.”

Noah Hawley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Warren Littlefield photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast.

With additions each season to the realm of “Fargo’s” strong female universe, Winstead said she hasn’t seen anyone quite like her character Nikki Swango. (“I hope she goes down in history for that name,” jokes Winstead.)

“I think she takes bits from a lot of other characters and people that I’ve seen so there’s something about her that works so naturally in it, but I feel like I get to create something new,” she said. “Which I think is the model of the show itself.”

As each season consists of a self-contained storyline in a shared universe, Hawley said he first populates the plot and then follows where it leads.

“I just chase the story,” he said. “In this case, two brothers with a feud over a childhood inheritance. I am aware of not wanting to repeat myself but, you know, I sort of find these characters, they do what they want to do.”

And although brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy are both portrayed by Ewan McGregor, Hawley said they look like each other, but neither really looks like McGregor.

“I don’t know why it was played by the same actor,” Hawley said. “I’ve had to think about it since and I do think there is something to the idea of a family resemblance. The fact that you look at both of them, and because Ewan was willing to shave his head and do such an extreme look for Ray, it meant that also for Emmit, we could give him a look that wasn’t his own look.”

He added, “I think it makes it harder to decide that one’s a good guy and one’s a bad guy because you see them in each other.”

Hawley said they will continue to push the boundaries of storytelling as long as it doesn’t feel gimmicky. One quality they continue to touch on is the parable story within a story.

“I think that’s what makes it more than just a crime story,” Hawley said. “There is also something larger philosophically that becomes unpredictable and fun.”

You can listen to this week’s episode here:

New episodes of Remote Controlled are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes of Remote Controlled here.

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