fargo season 4

Warren Littlefield was on a panel for his latest Hulu show, the revenge-drama Reprisal. After the panel, he remained to speak with reporters further. As a producer on Fargo and The Handmaid’s Tale, Littlefield has a lot of other shows to talk about. /Film asked him about the upcoming fourth season of Fargo, which FX announced last year.

Season 4 will star Chris Rock, Jack Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, Jessie Buckley, Salvatore Esposito, Andrew Bird, Jeremie Harris, Gaetano Bruno, Anji White, Francesca Acquaroli, E’Myri Crutchfield and Amber Midthunder. Find out why Littlefield calls it “the most ambitious season we’ve ever attempted,” why Kansas City couldn’t play Kansas City, and how Rock will do drama. 

The Most Ambitious Season They’ve Ever Attempted

Just look at that cast. Servicing all those characters will be ambitious, says Littlefield. And then there’s that 1950s period setting.

“It’s the most ambitious we’ve ever attempted, far and away the largest cast, beyond even our ambitions of year two,” Littlefield said. “So it’s 1950 Kansas City. We’ll be shooting that in Chicago. It’s an immigrant experience, two gangs, really the two crime syndicates that are existing there together are the Italian-Americans and the African Americans.”

Fargo was ambitious from the beginning just for attempting to follow-up the acclaimed Coen Brothers film. It stood on its own and has every year. FX released the following synopsis last year:

In 1950, at the end of two great American migrations — that of Southern Europeans from countries like Italy, who came to the US at the turn of the last century and settled in northern cities like New York, Chicago — and African Americans who left the south in great numbers to escape Jim Crow and moved to those same cities — you saw a collision of outsiders, all fighting for a piece of the American dream. In Kansas City, Missouri, two criminal syndicates have struck an uneasy peace. One Italian, one African American. Together they control an alternate economy — that of exploitation, graft and drugs. This too is the history of America.  To cement their peace, the heads of both families have traded their eldest sons.

Chris Rock plays the head of one family, a man who — in order to prosper — has surrendered his oldest boy to his enemy, and who must in turn raise his son’s enemy as his own. It’s an uneasy peace, but profitable. And then the head of the Kansas City mafia goes into the hospital for routine surgery and dies. And everything changes. It’s a story of immigration and assimilation, and the things we do for money. And as always, a story of basically decent people who are probably in over their heads. You know, Fargo.

Why Chicago Plays Kansas City

A lot can change in 70 years. Apparently Kansas City has changed too much to play itself.

“We actually scouted Kansas City but it really didn’t meet the needs we had for the period,” Littlefield said. 

That’s not uncommon. How often has Toronto played New York? There probably aren’t that many demands for maintaining Kansas City’s 1950s atmosphere, so the city wasn’t focused on preserving itself as a filming location.

Chris Rock Wants to Break Out of the Comedy Box

No matter how many comedy actors do great drama, audiences always seem surprised when they shift genres.

“Chris Rock is ready to go,” Littlefield said. “He’s pretty enthusiastic. It turns him on and I think it’s going to demand such a huge range of what he has to do. I think as an artist he’s excited for that .He wanted to be pushed and he wants to be stretched. As an artist he’s raring to go.”

Fargo has also earned Rock cool points with his family. “I think he, first and foremost, is a Fargo fan and also, his kids think he’s very cool in being the star of Fargo,” Littlefield continued. “So he’s got great respect coming out of his family. He’s a fan of the show and lo and behold he’s going to be a star in Fargo.”

FX says season 4 will air in 2020. They’ll be at TCA in August to say more.

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