Talking With Fargo’s Jean Smart! The Strong Women Of Fargo! Mastering Accents! Misunderstood Evil! And More!

Greetings “FARGO” fans! If you are following the show, you know all about Floyd Gerhardt; the badass momma bear. Jean Smart doesn’t need an introduction. The quality of her past work speaks for themselves. Jean gives life to Floyd and embraces her character completely. We were lucky enough to interview Jean Smart this week and the following are a few questions she answered for us about the series.

FARGO -- “The Myth of Sisyphus” -- Episode 203 (Airs October 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Angus Sampson as Bear Gerhardt, Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt.

CR: Chris Large/FX

What is the best thing about the show?

Jean: “The cast is uniformly amazing. The whole experience was one of the better experiences I’ve had. Every department was top notch.”

Did you add anything of your own to Floyd?

Jean: “When I first read the first script, when I auditioned for it, it was clear what I had to do for the character. It was pretty much all there”.

FARGO -- “Fear and Trembling” -- Episode 204 (Airs November 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt. CR: Chris Large/FX

What drew you to Floyd’s character?

Jean: “Such a great show. The writing was so impressive. Actors hunger for those words. We don’t see a lot of female characters like that. She is very strong and liberated. She felt like she was equal to her husband; a great team. She probably grew up learning all the things young boys knew how to do. Not afraid of hard work. Whatever needs to be done gets done.”

How did you cultivate the mid western accent?

Jean: “We had a great dialect coach. Really very helpful. It’s funny that the Fargo accent has been described as the friendliest accent. I grew up in a community in Seattle, Washington. They are Scandinavian. It’s part of the same flavor. It was not an unfamiliar sound.”

The show is based on real life events. Is Floyd based on a real life person?

Jean: “No, I don’t think she is based on any character. It was an event that happened, but she is not based on a true life character. It was clear to me where I wanted to go with her. It’s fun to come up with your own ideas. The script was my road map to her.”

FARGO -- “Did You Do This? No, you did it!” -- Episode 207 (Airs Monday, November 23, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt, Angus Sampson as Bear Gerhardt. CR: Chris Large/FX

How much of the family were you aware of and what surprised you the most?

Jean: “I had no idea about what was going to happen to Floyd or the family. I had great fun watching on television. The cast was amazing. I was so thrilled with the editing and music. It was brilliant and enhanced the experience; constantly amazed. It was fun to watch all the scenes I wasn’t in; all the humorous scenes. I’m very much a fan of the extremely dark humor of the show.”

You’ve described Floyd as “misunderstood evil”. The audience is more drawn to her. What do you think make evil likable?

Jean: “No one is all good and no one is all bad. It’s cathartic for us to see the darker side. Everything is driven by desire. The Gerhardts are very driven. They started with nothing. Floyd is very practical and pragmatic, but obviously there’s conflict. What are you willing to do for your children and grandchildren? Her instinct as a mother is not to lose any more children. She doesn’t want to go to war, but she is not afraid and definitely willing to die.”

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 7: Jean Smart arrives at the red carpet premiere screening of FX's 'Fargo' at the Arclight Cinemas Hollywood on October 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Cr: Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup/FX

There’s a Shakespearean Greek tragedy element to the show. She is a very important cultural icon. Thoughts?

Jean: “It is a Shakespearean Greek tragedy; something slightly larger than life about it. Watching the empire pulled down and innocent lives pulled down with it; very Shakespearean Greek tragedy. You don’t get to see women’s’ roles that complicated. Her practical side as a business woman comes to conflict with her family side. She is in seventy nine and she is still a strong woman in a man’s world.”

FARGO -- “Before The Law” -- Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Angus Sampson as Bear Gerhardt, Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt.

CR: Chris Large/FX

Going forward, what can we expect from the strong women of Fargo?

Jean: “Oh gosh I can’t give anything away. In terms of woman in general, there are things unexpected happen. All very moving in their own way; of the outcome.
I can’t believe only two episodes away.”

FARGO -- “The Myth of Sisyphus” -- Episode 203 (Airs October 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Michael Hogan as Otto Gerhardt, Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt, Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd Gerhardt, Angus Sampson as Bear Gerhardt. CR: Chris Large/FX

We loved the scene between Floyd and Dodd. Did you talk with Jeffrey about it beforehand?

Jean: “I admire Jeffery so much. He is so much fun to work with. The scene in the car, we were both anxious to work. I hope Jeffrey doesn’t mind me saying this. He took the role because of that one scene.”

How challenging was it to get into character? We love the red coat.

Jean: “I can’t over emphasize how important the hair, makeup, and wardrobe people were. Actors frequently talk about the character, but there are external things that affect how you feel and interact with people. First time they put all of it together, I was shocked. It was the hair; the poodley hair. We had a great deal of fun. We howl with laughter. The coat was nice and warm. My head and feet were always cold. I would beg for hats. Not so glamorous, but I got to dress for comfort. There’s something about red that stirs people’s feelings.”

FARGO -- Pictured: Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt.

CR: Mathias Clamer/FX

It was such a pleasure talking to Jean Smart and we can’t thank her enough for taking the time to talk to all of us. Don’t forget to catch “FARGO” Mondays at
10PM only on FX.

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