Mary Elizabeth Winstead had come close to signing on for "Fargo" before, but scheduling conflicts prevented her from taking part in either of the first two seasons of FX's celebrated anthology series.
"I was always pulling my hair out," Winstead says while stopping by The Times' video studio.
So when "Fargo" creator Noah Hawley called and asked if she'd be interested in a part for the show's new season, Winstead accepted, sight unseen.
"I learned from watching the first two seasons that there's no such thing as a bad part on this show," Winstead says, adding that it's the first time she has ever taken a part without first reading the script.
The role Hawley ended up giving her — Nikki Swango, a bubbly femme fatale and aspiring bridge champion — surprised Winstead, who was expecting something more along the lines of Allison Tolman's sweet, smart police officer from Season 1. Instead, she was playing a woman with the know-how to use an air conditioning unit as a murder weapon and then brush it off by saying, "Life's a journey."
"What she does in the first episode is, like, 'Whoa! This is a very interesting person with a complicated moral compass,'" Winstead says, laughing. "But she has this whole other side to her that's very optimistic and beautiful and romantic."
Elsewhere in the interview, Winstead talks about other ways the role has surprised her (she never expected "Fargo" to require trips to the gym … but then she didn't know she'd be sharing a bathtub with costar Ewan McGregor, either), the bridge tournament research trip she took and why "bad-ass" women characters just seem to keep coming her way.
You can watch the full interview here: