Mary Discusses ‘Fargo’ With The Wrap

The Wrap sat down with Mary Elizabeth Winstead to discuss her new show, Fargo and why her character doesn’t have the typical “Fargo” accent (she’s actually from Chicago) and if her character really loves Ray (played by Ewan McGregor).

In another part of the interview, she talks about one of the worst auditions she’s ever had.

Mary Attends FX’s FYC Event

Yesterday Mary and her Fargo co-stars Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon and Olivia Sandoval attended FX’s Emmys For Your Consideration event in North Hollywood. I’ve added over 260 photos, so please enjoy all the pics I’ve added to the gallery!

 

At the event, show creator Noah Hawley said this about Mary’s character Nikki Swango:

“Nikki Swango (Winstead) is the ultimate ‘Fargo’ badass. You don’t know what to expect with her. She’s a bridge mastermind and a strategist. She’s really fun.”

According to Variety, Winstead was thrilled to join the drama and said about Nikki Swango, “I’d never played a character like this. Once I was on set and doing it, it was so easy but it took all the elements coming together for me to feel confident and comfortable.”

New Fargo Interviews

Mary is doing lots of press for Fargo now that the third season has wrapped. Yesterday, Mary did a Q&A for The Los Angeles Times which you can watch here and KPCC’s “The Frame” radio show which you can check out here. I’ve also updated the gallery with a few photos she’s taken during the press tour.

Tonight, they’ll also be an Emmy’s FYC event for the FX show so check back soon for tons of new pics! 🙂

 

THE FRAME Interview highlights:

On why she initially shied away from TV series earlier in her career:

For me, it was really the idea of committing to something for years and years — that you could potentially not love — was very, very scary to me, and I didn’t understand why [laughs]. I was sort of like, I don’t understand why anybody would do that! What if you get into it and then a year later you decide you don’t like it anymore?

But the past few years, as the majority of the good material that I’ve seen has been on television, it’s become really exciting.

How she’d describe Nikki to people who haven’t seen the show:

She’s a competitive bridge player, which I think says a lot about her. [laughs] I mean, ex-con, competitive bridge player speaks volumes. She’s a strategic thinker in every way of her life, she’s always one step of everybody around her. She’s incredibly smart, but she’s also incredibly loving and passionate, and she’s very much in love with her partner, Emmit Stussy, played by Ewan McGregor. She has all these dreams and hopes for their life together, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make those dreams come true.

On her possible entry into musical theater:

There’s been a couple of Broadway shows that I’ve gone down the road with, and then scheduling’s sort of made things fall apart. But I would love to do that eventually. I think that would be the next scary thing for me to tackle. It would be really nerve-wracking, but I’d love to try it.

Time Interviews Mary About Fargo

Time.com interviewed Mary about playing the role of Nikki Swango on this season of FX’s Fargo. Click the link to read the full Q&A:

Did Noah Hawley have a particular vision for Nikki?

The main question that I had for him in order to really know her was whether or not her love for Ray was real. He immediately, without having to think about it at all, said, “Yes. It’s completely genuine. They’re completely in love and it’s a true, real relationship.”

Then it all kind of clicked in for me because that was the only thing that, to me, could have turned the performance one direction or another. So once I knew that their love was real, then I was able to really move forward with this sort of sweet, bubbly, optimistic version of a femme fatale.

Did you actually learn or know how to play bridge?

I had no idea how to play bridge, and I still have no idea how to play bridge. I took a couple lessons and Ewan and I went and watched a bridge tournament together right before we started shooting here in Calgary, which was very eye-opening. I mean, I will never understand this game. But when we went and watched people play, then we could go okay, yeah, that’s right, we’re actors. We can pretend we know what we’re doing.

A lot of people have theorized that the two female characters, Nikki and Gloria, represent that kind of light side and dark side in this season. Do you think that that’s an accurate portrayal of those two characters?

I think it is. I think in some ways throughout the season they’re sort of on these parallel trajectories. We don’t get that much stuff together, but the characters are connected in some way as the season goes on. I think it’s interesting because they do sort of represent the light and the dark, but it’s interchangeable.

In some ways, Gloria’s the light because she’s the moral center. She’s the one who’s not doing bad things like everybody else on the show is. But in other ways, Nikki’s the light because she’s quite a bit more optimistic and gutsy and full of spirit, whereas Gloria is going through a dark period of her life. She’s a bit more cynical and her worldview maybe isn’t as bright as Nikki’s. So I think it’s really interesting that they both kind of represent the light and the dark for different reasons.

Mary Is Redefining the Femme Fatale Role

Elle Magazine interviewed Mary on how she was initially skeptical to join the world of Fargo, take on television projects, breaking the mold of the femme fatale role, and hoping to work with more female directors in the future. Click the link to read the interview in full. Some highlights are below:

On being skeptical of turning Fargo into a TV series:
“I’ve been a huge fan of the movie since I was really young. I remember falling so in love with everything about it, particularly Frances McDormand’s performance as Marge. So when I heard they were doing a series, I was terrified. I actually met with [showrunner] Noah Hawley about the first season, but I ended up not being available, and then when I saw the show I was like, ‘Okay, I need to make myself available!’ So when he called about this season I said yes without hesitation, without reading anything or knowing anything about my character.”

On taking her time to take on television projects:

“I was slow to get on the TV bandwagon, because I was so attached to doing movies, and I’m still not willing to completely let that go. But at the same time, as movies and the way they’re made has started to change, the fact that television exists as a platform for creative people to tell the stories they really want to tell is a blessing. As soon as I caught onto what was happening, I embraced it wholeheartedly, because really it doesn’t matter. We just want to do good work, and if TV is the place that’s giving us those opportunities then so be it. I hope to continue to do both, and I also hope that maybe some of this TV success that’s been happening will rejuvenate the film industry a little bit too, and bring back some non-action blockbuster movies to theaters.”

On playing the role of Nikki Swango:

She’s incredibly smart and morally ambiguous, but she has such a positivity and a warmth underneath the hardened ex-con exterior. I didn’t have to try and play her as some sort of femme fatale cliché. That ‘Life’s a journey’ line she has…she just has such a bubbliness about her! I would have been bored if she had to be this sexy, serious bitch character, and I hope the audience will grow to like her despite her actions throughout the season.”

Yahoo! Interviews Mary After Episode 3×02 of Fargo

If you haven’t seen 3×02 of FX’s Fargo, it’s better to skip reading this interview until after you’ve seen it. Some spoilers will be talked about, but I’ll place them under the cut. Yahoo! TV interviewed Mary after the second aired tonight, and while we’ll get to hear about why Nikki was originally locked up, the craziness has yet to begin on the show. Click the link to read the full interview:

How did the role come about for you?

I’ve kind of been in touch with Noah over the past couple of years. We’ve talked about roles in other seasons, and schedules just never lined up. You know, I think we’ve always just sort of had a mutual fandom for each other. Certainly after I saw the first couple of seasons, I was dying to be a part of it. When he called and asked if I was available [for Season 3], I said, “Yes,” without hesitation. I didn’t ask what the role was, or what the story was, or anything. I totally jumped right in. It was probably the first and only time I’ve ever done that, where I’ve just said yes to something without even reading it because I just had so much trust that whatever the role was, it was going to be so layered and exciting and fun to do. I had no doubts, especially as a female character, that he would bring so much to it, because of what he had done in the past two seasons.

And was Nikki even beyond your expectations of what your character would be?
It was so not what I was expecting. It was such an exciting surprise. I thought that I would be playing a really polite housewife or something. I never expected that I’d be on Fargo playing this brash, sexy Fargo universe of a femme fatale. It’s been so much fun and beyond anything that I could have imagined. At first glance, I thought, “Really? He wants me to play this part? Am I really this girl?” Then once I got into it, I was like, “Oh, yeah. I am this girl!” I’m actually really comfortable with this, just having the time of my life.

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Mary Discusses Playing A “sexy” Character on Fargo

We’ve already seen Mary being sexy and intelligent after last week’s season 3 premiere of Fargo. Ahead of the new episode airing later tonight, Glamour Magazine sat down with Mary while she was in town briefly and discussed how playing the role of Nikki Swango has helped her be more confident, meeting Riley on a cruise, and hoping to work with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins in the future. Click the link above to read the full Q&A:

Glamour: With all the roles that you’ve played, what role shaped you the most as an actress?

Mary: This little movie I did called Smashed with Aaron Paul five or six years ago. That totally changed the way I saw myself as an actor and types of roles that I wanted to play. It really just set me in a clear direction in terms of what I wanted to do.

Glamour: And what did you want to do?

Mary: Just knowing that I had the complexity and the capacity as an actor to play the kinds of roles I always wanted to play. I think I had always wanted to go down a certain road, but I had insecurities about whether or not I could really focus on that. So when I did that, it felt so good. I realized these kinds of complex roles and this kind of material is what I can steer myself towards. I don’t have to worry if I’m good enough for it.

Glamour: It’s so true, and I love that you’re saying that. You can be the best and still doubt yourself.

Mary: Yeah, even now I’m so much more confident than when I did [Smashed]. It’s taken me a lot of time to get to that place—my confidence and being comfortable in my own skin and my body and being able to play a role like Nikki that’s sexy.

Glamour: Tell me more about why playing a “sexy” role like this was something you tried to steer yourself away from.

Mary: Sometimes you get in your head. I didn’t want to play these kinds of roles because I was like, “I don’t want to be seen that way. I don’t want to be seen as sexy because that’s not interesting or substantive.” But then you get a role like this, where she’s sexy but she’s also a billion other things, and then you can really embrace that side of her and yourself and feel good about it.

Glamour: With all the talented people you’ve worked with, who has taught you the most?

Mary: In the last few years I’ve gotten to work with more female directors, which is awesome, but still not enough. I’ve only worked with a few in the course of a 15-year career now. But one woman who I love, and I hope to work with again, is Patty Jenkins, who directed [the upcoming] Wonder Woman. We did a pilot together, and I was so in awe of her energy and her stamina and her passion and the way that she articulated the way that she wanted things in a strong and compassionate way. She was somebody going forward I would like to emulate. I don’t know if I will direct, but I have aspirations to maybe do something like that or producing. I just loved the way she handled herself.

 

Mary Talks Fargo with TV Line

TV Line caught up with Mary to discuss her FX show Fargo. Below are highlights, but click on the link to read the full interview:

TVLINE | What was your reaction when this opportunity came along? Did you follow Fargo‘s first two seasons at all?
I had. I actually had been talking to Noah [Hawley] for a couple years about possibly doing Fargo, about something with him at some point, but I was never available, so nothing ever came of most of our discussions. So when he called and asked if I was available for this I just said yes, right away. After having seen the last two seasons I knew that every character that he writes is so dimensional and exciting — particularly the female characters, which are so wonderful. I had no doubts that it was something I wanted to be a part of.

TVLINE | What does Nikki want in this world? Does she want the ring, money? Or would she be content placing second in the tri-county bridge tournament?
I think she has very big dreams for her life and her life with Ray. I don’t think she’s using him for money or any of those things, but she has this idealized version of what she thinks her life should be. I think she sees them living in a big house and they have everything that they want. Shes big on visualizing and living forward and positive thinking. She believes that as a team they’re going to win the game of life together.

TVLINE | Ewan obviously goes through quite a transformation to become Ray vs. Emmit. Was this the first time a male costar of yours took longer in hair and makeup?
I think the only other time was when I did Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, where Ben Walker went through hours of makeup to turn himself into Abe Lincoln every day. That’s the only other time I could remember feeling so bad for my male costar — but it’s such a rarity. I “feel bad” for them but I love the rare opportunity to spend a fraction of time in the hair and makeup trailer than the male costar does.

TVLINE | He’s [showrunner Noah Hawley] in an amazing groove right now. If you caught any of Legion, and the fact that he fit that among these three seasons of Fargo
It’s unimaginable to me. It’s so beyond my mental capacity to even think about how one person could do all that. I’m totally in awe of his abilities, constantly, especially getting every script and being so surprised and shocked and excited, every single time. I don’t want to give anything away, but I would have never imagined Nikki Swango would end up where she is now, in the stuff we’re shooting [this week]. It’s all so unexpected and wonderful.

Mary on Hollywood Today Live!

Early this morning, Mary stopped by Hollywood Today Live to talk all things “Fargo”, her character’s accent (who is actually from Chicago), working with Ewan McGregor, and if she ever keeps any mementos from the films she’s worked on. You can view the videos below and head to the gallery to check out photos of her on the set: