Yesterday’s (June 7) episode of Fargo was the craziest one yet and Mary Elizabeth Winstead spoke to several outlets to talk about it. There’s spoilers in every single one of these interviews, so only read if you’ve seen the ep. I will just post some highlights, but click on the links to read them in full:
TheWrap: What was the toughest part about shooting the episode?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: How ambitious it was, combined with the time constraints of shooting television — even when I read it, I just thought, “How are we going to do this?” If this was a movie, we would spend two months just on this. When you [watch the episode], it all moves so quickly that maybe it doesn’t seem as [difficult] as what we really had to shoot. It was at night and freezing cold. And just to be chained together and not be able to communicate in the way that you normally do, I don’t think I’ve ever been in quite a unique situation like that before.
It’s interesting to see Nikki become the hero of the show. How will fans react to where the rest of the season takes her?
She’s evolved so much — I don’t think I ever would have imagined that she ends up in the places that she goes to in the second half of the season when I started. Noah had told me that when I signed on, that she would be the heart of the season. I think [fans will] be continually surprised — I know I was in reading it. Every turn, I felt something was happening that I didn’t expect and that I was totally shocked and excited by. Nikki continues to stir things up in a way that you hope she would. She doesn’t give up because that would be totally out of character for her. She keeps fighting the good fight.
How much of severing D.J. Qualls’ head did you guys get to do as practical effects on-set?
We actually did have a moment where it got a little bit scary. Every time we would be doing it, D.J. would be holding the chain with his hands to protect his neck a little bit, so it was a little bit fake. We were in snow and it’s wet and it’s cold and there are all these elements and his hands slipped and so he actually, at one point, he basically went into a panic attack because he thought we were really going to choke him and he just stood up and it was a really scary moment there for all of us, because we didn’t know what was going to happen. We were shooting that whole sequence so fast and so there was definitely an element of insanity going on through that whole thing. Thankfully he was fine and it was just a scare, but it was a terrifying moment. I don’t want to choke D.J. Qualls. I certainly don’t want to decapitate him. That would not be nice. Thankfully, everything turned out OK.
Compare the relative discomfort of full days shooting outside in the Calgary winter to the day shooting that single-take shot in the ice bath.
The only discomfort of the ice bath, because it wasn’t real ice, it was plastic ice — I hate having to admit that, because it sounds much cooler to say that I was sitting there in ice all day — the only real discomfort in that scene was how small the tub was versus how large my body is. Noah [Hawley] was there that day and he basically said, “We’re gonna rehearse it and see if we can do it this way, because I’m not sure if we can fit your enormous body into that tub.” That was the quote of the day and has continued to be, I refer to myself and my “enormous body” all the time now. But we managed to do it and I was very, very proud of myself for folding my limbs into that thing.
Did you expect it to get as physical as it does? Nikki seems to endure more physical pain than most “Fargo” characters.
No, I didn’t expect that at all. Starting episode five and continuing on for awhile, it was incredibly physical for me. I’ve done a lot of stunts in my career, a lot of being drug through the mud, beaten up, and all of that. But I just somehow didn’t expect it to happen on this show. Luckily I enjoy that, so it worked out for me. But it’s definitely not where I saw Nikki Swango heading.