‘Fargo’ Creator Noah Hawley Talks About Going Back to Basics for Season 5, and Putting Nipple Rings on Jon Hamm

Look, I love that season. That season, in some ways, is the culmination of my work as a storyteller and a filmmaker, and it’s certainly the biggest story that I’ve told. It has 23 main characters, but I think it’s just as compelling and immersive as any of the smaller seasons.

Yes, I think that in the long run, that season, those 10-11 hours of film will go down as some of my best work. I believe that. Does that mean that in September through January of 2020, 2021, that it’s what America wanted to watch?

The show was supposed to premiere in April of that year, but we got shut down by the pandemic, and it was six months before we could go back. There was a real reckoning with race and class in America, and if it had aired in April, it would’ve come at the beginning of a trend. Because after that, there were many. Lovecraft County. I think Watchmen had come out before that. There were a number of shows and films that addressed the issue, but instead of being at the beginning of that trend, we were at the end of that trend. And so, the appetite for wrestling with that and being entertained by those characters in that question—I think we ran into some fatigue.

Speaking of the events in 2020, the show is both geographically and chronologically coming up to George Floyd. With some of the other right-wing stuff that’s hovering in the season, was there part of you that thought about incorporating that or sowing the seeds for it a little bit?

No, I don’t think so. I think that you have to respect the power of these moments in our history, and if you’re going to address them, you can’t just toss them into things.

I think Scorsese referred to, and used, the Tulsa Massacre in Killers of the Flower Moon as a way to contextualize what was happening to the Osage people. It was relevant to that story. And we weren’t telling a story like that. But certainly, if you look at the way that Jon Hamm and Joe Keery’s characters treat Lamorne Morris’s character, the sort of overt racism in that violence, both implied and real, it’s implied. If that makes sense.

Yeah, it does. I can’t leave you without getting an Alien update first.

What I’ll say is, that feeling that I got in Fargo this year—having recreated a version of the living room from the movie and recreating certain shots that really echo the kidnapping from the movie and therefore being on set and feeling like I was standing in the movie—I had that same sort of hair-raising feeling on Alien on the month that I was able to shoot it standing in a space where I thought, “I’m in the movie. I’m in the movie Alien, and time and space collapsed between 1978 and 2023.”

It’s really thrilling. There are three science fiction icons—there’s Star Wars, Star Trek, and Alien, and you would never mistake one for the other visually. And to be able to stand on that dripping set, it’s really so exciting and I’m excited to get back and finish it so people can watch.

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