We’re nearing the point where a Minnesota accent is becoming a little intimidating, thanks to the hard work of the “Fargo” universe. The show returns for a new season, set in the ‘70s, complete with yet more amoral, murderous characters all striving to emerge on top. Jeffrey Donovan, best known for his work on “Burn Notice,” appears as Dodd Gerhardt, one of a group of violent brothers trying to keep their organized crime empire afloat. We talked about his love of the Coen brothers and how to master that darn accent.
How tough is the accent to master?
It was one of the hardest I’d ever done. And I had played Bobby Kennedy two years prior in “J. Edgar.”
How will this season differ from the first one?
I think the biggest difference will be the literal difference, which is it’s 30 years prior, late ’70s — you know, 1979. After the Vietnam War when corporate commerce started to take over small businesses. I think that’s going to show a very specific time in an odd place. You know Fargo, North Dakota, Laverne, Minnesota. But I think that the tone and the characters are all going to feel like, “Oh yeah, I’m in Fargo.”
So Dodd will experience that through the lens of his unusual family business.
Oh yeah, and it’s a big deal. And it’s Dodd’s really demented and damaged view on life that will rebel against big corporate America, and you’ll see as the episodes come how violent that rebellion will be. Oh, it gets bad. It gets more vicious and bloody than the first season.
Uh oh, maybe we shouldn’t get too attached to Dodd.
You’ll see. I don’t want to give anything away because it’s really good not to know. Because I think when you’re going to watch the show you’re like, “Oh no, how did that happen?” There are some sad deaths, where I think the audience will be like, “They can’t die! There’s no way they just died!”
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The Coen brothers do like to play with expectations about who will die.
And you know what’s amazing about that? You feel like, “Oh, it could happen to me, because it happened to her.” It happened to a regular person and that’s what the Coens touch on — the big epic themes, but it feels like it could happen to us.
How happy was your family in Massachusetts that you played a Kennedy?
The Kennedys are like aliens. They don’t even represent Massachusetts, they’re like aliens in the best of ways. They were like, “Wow, you get to play an alien!” And so when I started working on the “Fargo” dialect, even my wife was like, “That’s not good.” And I was like, “Geez, harsh.” But I worked really hard on it, and the funny thing is now that it’s gone I haven’t been doing it since April. I’m about to do John F Kennedy in a new movie and I started working on the accent and … it’s so bad. My John F Kennedy right now sounds like he’s from Fargo but with a Boston accent.