Kirsten Dunst and Patrick Wilson were on opposite ends of the law in the second season of “Fargo.” But Noah Hawley’s acclaimed crime-thriller had a common effect on their careers, putting them back squarely in the mainstream.
Dunst’s repressed Minnesota housewife on “Fargo” hoarded beauty magazines, owned grand dreams that sometimes turned into weird visions and acted out in strange, often scary ways.
“She’s nuts,” Dunst says, laughing.
The versatile actress visited The Envelope recently for a video interview to talk about “Fargo” and her career, part of our series of Emmy season conversations. We so enjoyed the conversation that we asked her to stick around a bit. Here are excerpts from what Dunst said after the cameras were turned off.
We hadn’t seen you much before “Fargo.” Had you made a conscious decision to take something of a break?
I’m someone who waits. And my manager will be like, “You need to work! Look at this script!” But I can’t do it. I physically can’t do it. I think it’s because I’ve been working so long that I’m kind of at a normal person’s retirement age.
You’ve been acting for 30 years …
I started when I was 3 and I just turned 34. I should be a retiree! I’m tired! I’m not hustling. I’m happy to spend my summer off and then work with Sofia [Coppola] in the fall. Do I need to squeeze another project in there? No!
The projects you have made lately have been independent films …
... which don’t pay much. And no one sees. That was what was amazing about “Fargo.” My mom’s saying, “I went to Bloomingdale’s and everyone’s telling me how much they loved ‘Fargo.’” It’s been awhile since anyone has said anything to her.
No Lars von Trier fans in her circle?
[Laughs] I remember I went to that same Bloomingdale’s at the Fashion Square mall in the Valley and I was perusing the shoe section and one of the women came up to me, sweetly, but also curt too, saying, “I miss you in film.” And meanwhile I had done “Melancholia.” I had done films, just not the kind normal audiences would ever seek out and see. So doing “Fargo” was such a relief. People were actually seeing my work.
You spent six months filming “Fargo” in Calgary. Allison Tolman told me Bob Odenkirk was a great advance scout in the first season, finding the bookstore and the good restaurants …
Oh, I found the good restaurant. Model Milk. Such an odd name. We also found the casino. I won a lot of money! I love gambling, but I’m not bad with my money at all. I will take like $300, put it aside and only gamble with that. I’m very conservative. If I win, I walk away for sure. And I won over $1,000 in under two minutes playing slots.
I started when I was 3 and I just turned 34. I should be a retiree! I’m tired!
No wonder you don’t need to work. You can fall back on gambling!
[Laughs] I’m not that big of a gambler! I gambled twice over the course of the past year.
It sounds like watching “Fargo” was something of a family activity with you and your mom and your brother.
My only wish is that my grandma could have seen it. She’s from Minnesota and she passed away before I did all this. That was the most heartbreaking thing for me watching it. My grandma would have gotten such a kick out of “Fargo.” We were very close. I was born on her birthday.
Did you incorporate her at all in your work on the show?
Oh, I used everything. A little dash of my grandmother. My dreams. Things that annoy me. People on set. I used everything possible to give my character an inner life that felt grounded. But it’s not like I felt my grandmother’s presence on set. I did have one blatant moment with her though … with a hummingbird. I was driving home from a friend’s house and this hummingbird was in the middle of the street and it wouldn’t move. And it forced me to stop my car. I drove home and told my mom what happened because that’s not in the nature of a hummingbird to do that. They’re always dashing around. And my mom realized that it was the day my grandma passed. So I think it was my grandma saying “hi.”