‘The Heck Do Ya Mean?’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Fargo’

Based on a true story (not really)
‘The Heck Do Ya Mean?’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Fargo’

Fargo, North Dakota, was founded in 1871 on historically Sioux territory. As of the 2020 census, it has a population of 125,990 people, led by current mayor Tim Maho– Oh, you thought that because there’s a new season of the FX show Fargo coming out today, these would be tidbits about the series and the 1996 Coen Brothers film, not the actual town of Fargo?

Well, if that’s what you want, here are 15 tidbits about the Fargo franchise…

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Not Much Fargo in ‘Fargo’

Despite being named after a city in North Dakota, the Fargo film and TV series both take place primarily in Minnesota, with Fargo being the home of seedier elements that later affect various small-town Minnesotans.

Not-So-True Story

The film opens with the following disclaimer: “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.” Despite this, writer and director Joel Coen has said, “It’s completely made up. Or, as we like to say, the only thing true about it is that it’s a story.”

Minnesota Not-So-Nice

The “Fargo” accent is a rural Minnesota inflection that some view as part of the “Minnesota nice” cultural stereotype, which assumes Minnesotans to be Diet Coke Canadians in terms of politeness.

No Mayoral Endorsement

When Fargo came out, Brainerd mayor Bonnie Cumberland said, “It’s a movie that people who don’t live here seem to enjoy, but for us, it’s a little bit of an embarrassment. I have a lot of ‘you betchas’ in my vocabulary, but not that much. We try not to do people in with wood chippers.”

That’s Not Steve Buscemi’s Foot

In 2013, Buscemi revealed he is often complimented on his famous wood chipper death in Fargo, even though he’s not actually in the scene.

William H. Macy REALLY Wanted ‘Fargo’

“I basically said to the Coens, ‘This is my role, and I’m just scared you guys are gonna fuck it up and cast someone else,’” explained Macy in an interview. After his audition, he heard that they were continuing to see people in New York for the role, so he flew out to New York and showed up to the auditions. “I said, ‘It’s my role, and I’ll shoot your dogs if you don’t give it to me.’”

Two Thumbs Up

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert declared Fargo the best film of 1996, a sentiment shared with others as it was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture. The film took home two Academy Awards, with Joel and Ethan Coen nabbing Best Original Screenplay and Frances McDormand winning Best Actress.

Put This One in the Wood Chipper

More than a decade before Fargo became an FX series, a pilot for a Fargo show was shot in 1997. Directed by Kathy Bates, it starred Edie Falco as McDormand’s character, Marge Gunderson, and took place shortly after the film.

That’s A Lot of ‘You Betchas’

Fargo series creator Noah Hawley wrote the entire award-winning first season and several episodes of Seasons Two and Three. Hawley also wrote or co-wrote every installment of the fourth and fifth seasons.

The Coen Brothers Seal of Approval

Before joining Fargo’s debut season, Billy Bob Thornton called to get the blessing of the Coen Brothers, whom he’d previously worked with on The Man Who Wasn’t There. He wanted to ensure they approved of the project, which they did.

Life Imitates Art (Minus All the Murders)

Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemmons, who played the husband-and-wife duo Peggy and Ed Blumquist in Season Two, met on set and soon began dating. They married in 2022.

This Isn’t the Accent You’re Looking For

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor pulled double duty portraying brothers in Season Three. When asked about the role(s), he said the Minnesota accent was the most difficult he’s ever had to learn.

Chris Rock’s ‘Fargo’ Homework

For his part as gangster Loy Cannon in Season Four, Rock said his performance drew upon the uncles he grew up with, some of whom may have been involved with illegal activity.

Ad Man

Jon Hamm said his character in the newest season was somewhat based on the Marlboro Man.

A Presidential Visit

On Labor Day in 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt visited Fargo, North Dakota, and laid the cornerstone of the Carnegie Library, which served the community for seven decades before being demolished in 1970. (A little actual Fargo knowledge never hurt anybody.)

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