Ewan McGregor does double duty in 'Fargo,' all because he happened to be in Utah

First Published      Last Updated Apr 17 2017 09:12 am

Television » After a chance meeting in Utah, actor signs on to play two lead roles in quirky FX series.

Ewan McGregor is starring as a pair of brothers in the upcoming season of "Fargo," because he happened to be at the right place at the right time.

In Utah.

The actor ran into an FX executive "when I was skiing in Utah," McGregor said. "I was chatting with him, and he said, 'Have you seen "Fargo"?' And I hadn't. … And he said they were looking for an actor to play two brothers in Season 3.

"And so I got home, and I started watching."

It took McGregor about a week to watch Season 1 and Season 2 of "Fargo" — 20 episodes — and he was "obsessed by it," he said. "And here we are."

Each of the 10-episode seasons of "Fargo" tells a different story with a different cast in a different year — the commonality is that they're all set in Minnesota, as was the 1996 movie.

Season 3, set in 2010, opens in an East Berlin interrogation room in 1988 … and you'll have to wait a while to see how that has anything to do with the rest of the narrative.

The story revolves around a pair of brothers, played by McGregor. Emmit Stussy is the Parking Lot King of Minnesota — successful, handsome and seemingly happily married, but he's gotten himself mixed up with some bad guys.

Ray Stussy is a bit younger, quite a bit heavier, quite a bit balder and considerably less successful. He's a parole officer who's involved with one of his clients, Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and he's harboring long-held resentment against Emmit.

"It's a very old fable, isn't it? Two brothers fighting over their birthright, if you like," McGregor said.

This being "Fargo," the sibling rivalry inadvertently sets off a whole lot of murder and mayhem. And, as in the previous two seasons, executive producer Noah Hawley and his team have crafted a decidedly offbeat tale that's engaging, bloody and often downright hilarious.

This season pivots on McGregor. He's not just playing two roles, he's playing the two lead roles. And the Scottish actor is playing two Americans with the distinctive Minnesota accents we've heard in the movie and in the first two seasons of "Fargo."

"The challenge is, first of all, to master that accent, which is really very, very difficult," McGregor said. "It's a very strange accent to lock into.

"As a non-American, I sort of wish that I was coming at it from an American accent as opposed to from a Scottish one. It's the hardest accent I've ever done. And I did Dutch once in something."

He does it very effectively — even doing clearly different voices for each of the two brothers — although McGregor said it "sometimes feels like I'm doing a bad Irish accent."

McGregor came to "Fargo" from filming "T2 Trainspotting," when he was running a lot and was "at the peak of my fitness, ever." And then he had dinner with Hawley, who told him he had to put on some pounds to play the brothers.

"At that point, I ordered a massive dessert," McGregor said. "I made sure that I ate carbs with everything, and french fries with everything."

That worked great for Ray, but was problematic for Emmit. The solution? Spanx.

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The 90-minute Season 3 premiere of “Fargo” airs Wednesday on FX — at 8, 9:30 and 11 p.m. on DirecT and Dish; and at 11 p.m., 12:30 and 2 a.m. on Comcast.