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.