As the frustrated small-town beautician with big-city dreams and a desire to find out who she really is, Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blumquist in “Fargo” has become what some consider one of the most mesmerizing heroines of TV.
The character who was introduced to viewers in the kitchen, whipping up Hamburger Helper and tater tots, found herself caught up in a turf war and on the run with her husband, all the while also trying to push back against societal expectations.
And in Monday’s finale, viewers were waiting to see if she’d make it out alive from that epic Sioux Falls Massacre.
Show Tracker spoke to Dunst over the phone Monday afternoon about the fate of Peggy Blumquist, her thoughts on the UFO moment, acting next to hanging pigs and, naturally, her thoughts on her Saint West flub.
[Major spoilers ahead ... don’t say we didn’t warn ya!]
I think I’ve watched it four times.
What -- the finale?
I haven’t even watched it yet! Tonight I’m going to my mom’s house to watch it. We’re having a finale party. Well … we’ll probably just be ordering pizza.
Well, you know what happens … Peggy made it out alive!
I know. It’s sad, though. It’s sad that Ed [Jesse Plemons] had to die. You know what’s so funny. I’m with my friends in a car right now — we’re going bowling — and he was like, “why did you just say that?”
Did you think Peggy would make it out alive?
I wasn’t sure. We all got the episodes about two weeks in advance, at the most I would say. But, yeah, I didn’t know. I remember talking to [creator] Noah Hawley in the beginning after I got the job and when I started to work on the character, I asked him to give me the trajectory of Peggy. I don’t remember him telling me whether she lives or dies. He didn’t tell me that.
What had he told you?
He kind of did it in the general sense. I knew from reading the first two episodes that whatever character this will become will be a really exciting, weird journey. I was just afraid that I would have to do sexual favors to Constance [played by Elizabeth Marvel] to keep her quiet. He was like, “don’t worry … unless you want to?”
Your mom is a big fan of the show — was she begging you to tell her what Peggy’s fate was?
Oh, yeah. I had to tell her that I didn’t die because she gets too worked up. She even thought — they played a clip on Jimmy Fallon and she was like, “Did you lie to me? Tell me the truth. Does Peggy die?” I was like, “Mom! I already told you I don’t die.” She has to know these things.
Speaking of Jimmy Fallon—everyone was making a big deal about the fact that you didn’t know who Saint West is!
I know! My girlfriend didn’t know either. What’s the big deal? Really? I actually thought it was this dumb thing, like it was this patron saint of Christmas that I didn’t know. I was like, ‘oh … am I embarrassing myself that I don’t know this saint?’ I thought it was some special saint that I didn’t know about.
You quoted your mom in a tweet yesterday in which she says, If Peggy doesn’t die, she should get her own spinoff. If you had your way, what would that spinoff entail?
I guess I don’t know. I mean, she’s in jail. It would probably be like “Orange is the New Black,” but with Peggy. I feel like Peggy would be a boss in jail. She’d probably have this like mafia ring of her own in a jail cell somewhere. She’d probably break free.
There’s a moment in the finale where Ed says that even if you get out of it, he doesn’t think you guys will make it out as a couple. It was such a sad moment because she sort of thought this weirdly brought them together and took them out of their marital rut. How did you feel about that scene?
It was really heartbreaking even acting it out with Jesse because we had been on this five-month journey together. It’s so sad that he passes away and she lives. I don’t know. To me, it’s really heartbreaking. And it’s true. They are in this really unhealthy relationship. He does whatever he can for her, but it’s like a bad codependent relationship. And I remember that day — they had real meat in that meat locker. It was gross and smelly in there. It wasn’t cold. It was just a hot box with smoke in it and real meat hanging around. It was disgusting.
I was going to ask you what it was like timing a scene like that when there’s a pig just hanging around next to you.
It was so gnarly — yeah, no, that was pretty hardcore. It was really weird in there. And also hot. We shot all of that in like one late, late night. I think we wrapped at like 2:30 or 3 a.m. because there was so much to do.
Well, and poor Ed the butcher had to die in a meat locker.
I know! It was so Freudian.
What do you think would have become of Ed and Peggy had she never hit a Gerhardt with her car that fateful night?
I think she would have gone to Lifespring, probably. Hmm, I don’t know.
Do you think they would still be together?
Probably not. I think she would have been on a bus to California eventually.
What did you make of what she was about, what she was seeking, what she represented?
I’m just so impressed by Noah and what he writes for all the women on the show. It’s a completely unique voice for every woman in the cast. I think he’s just a brilliant creator for what he wrote for each of the women on the show. It’s one of the best parts I’ve ever played, or been able to play. It’s cliche to say, but they just don’t write parts like this for women. That’s why it stands out. I’m very lucky. I got very lucky, to be honest. I had auditioned for another great thing before that I didn’t get it, but then I got “Fargo.” It really is, some things are meant to be. It came into my life at a time when I was very depressed about the kinds of roles that were out there for me to play. I feel very fortunate that I got to be a part of this and that she was such a great character.
Is there anyone you wish you had a scene with, or more scenes with?
I wish Jean [Smart] and I had a scene together. We got along so well. I love Jean. I even had to read through a script that I did and she was there for me and read a few parts. We became friends after that. I love her so much. She’s so awesome on the show. That’s my one person I would’ve liked to have a scene with.
What did you make of the UFO moment from last week?
I mean, that was so weird, so crazy. I know that they had that in another Coen brothers’ movie. I didn’t know it was going to be that, though, significant. I thought it’d be lights, not like this big thing. I didn’t think that was going to happen.
Well, but it was great because you delivered one of the best lines of the season with, “It’s just a flying saucer, hon.”
I know! People liked that one. It’s so funny, that was such a mad scene to do. We didn’t really have a lot of time to shoot this series. It was amazing that we got everything. We had two units going on at the same time, most of the time. Jesse and I sat around for two days on like standby, waiting to do our little part. It was just a big massacre to shoot.
Do you have a favorite moment of the season for Peggy? People really seem to love the cabin episode and her talk of being actualized.
I liked the scene that Jesse and I got to do with Patrick [Wilson, who plays Lou Solverson]. I always get stressed out — it was like six pages of dialogue that day for me. It was a little overwhelming. I like when I don’t have to talk. I literally would go through episodes and look at how many lines I would have to do. I would be like, “Oh, good. I don’t have to talk that much in the scene.” I don’t know. I could never do a show where I had monologues. I just don’t like doing that. It feels like I am cramming for the test.
And there’s the added pressure of doing it with an accent.
It’s written so melodically so there’s no room for messing up. You need to know every little “um” and “yeah” because it goes with the melody of how they talk. I never had a project where I’ve been, “oh, I have to learn my lines, this is so hard.” This one, though, was kind of like that. For Peggy, I was like, “oh crap, I have to learn this stuff.” It’s hard not to go Irish with the accent because it can get limerick-y. I was at Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and he’s from Minnesota and his whole family is. We would just do the accent for hours just because. It’s a fun accent to do.
Our last image of Peggy is in that car with Lou. And it’s great because she can’t help but try to look at this in a positive light, as a way to continue her quest of becoming more of a free women even while being incarcerated. She wants to serve her time in California and see a pelican!
I think she’s sort of like, if she’s going to do it, she’s going to make the best of it. She just lives in her little, delusional Peggy world. It was like she was planning a vacation almost. Like she was planning a trip to Hawaii.
Any parting words for Peggy?
I did that back in May. I literally signed out of her. I always sign out of my characters. It’s not like “goodbye, Peggy.” I write something down. After certain roles, you take things home or you get sad. So I always write myself a little note where I sign off from the role. I just write to myself that basically I’m done with this, “leave me alone.” Because she’s crazy. Even when I visit my family at home or something, things would come out of me, things would happen where I would react in a way that Peggy would. It’s just wrong. That’s not normal. I mean, I had nightmares playing her because of the stuff we were going through. I remember I dreamt that I wanted a hot dog and this little baby pig was squealing as it was being dipped in boiling water.
I know. And that was before the scene with Jesse and I in a meat locker even happened. It’s interesting how your unconscious mind becomes so connected to what you’re doing. So it’s just healthy for any person to say goodbye to something. I don’t want to dream about stuff like that.
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