More than a few eyebrows were raised when it was announced that stand-up legend and comedy movies mainstay Chris Rock was going to be playing the lead role in the fourth season of Fargo. In an interview with Collider, series creator Noah Hawley explained why he cast Rock as Loy Cannon, the head of a crime family comprised of Black migrants fleeing the Jim Crow south
"I could say it was an intellectual process but the reality is that [Rock's] face was the face I saw when I thought of this story. I've learned, over my career, to trust my casting instincts. America is a nation of entrepreneurs. In a lot of ways, that's what the immigration experience is. People come to this country and, like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller, through sheer force of will, they figure out a way to build an empire and get rich."
"With Chris, I felt like he has this self-made man identity. He has that great voice. It just felt right to me. And so, I talked to FX and I said, "I have an idea for Fargo and I wanna do it with Chris." There was no script. I pitched them what it was and they were excited. I met with Chris and he was excited. Chris came on board, and then four or five months later, there was a script. We jumped in early."
The fourth season of Fargo explores two criminal syndicates, one led by Rock's Loy Cannon, and the other led by the Italian Fadda family, as they jockey to control an alternate economy of exploitation, graft, and drugs. To keep war from breaking out, the heads of the crime families trade their youngest sons in an attempt to strike peace. According to Hawley, adding Rock with his unique perspective on the American success story allowed for the show to expand on its original themes from the Coen brothers movies that the series is based on.
"There are a lot of experiences in this story that are not my experiences. It would be arrogant of me to think that I have better ideas of what it's really like to be Loy Cannon in 1950. What was exciting was to expand the Coen sensibility to characters that you haven't seen in Coen brothers movies before and to say, "What is the tone of the Coen brothers voice in the African-American experience, and the Italian immigrant experience?" You saw some of that in Miller's Crossing. That's the fun of it. To be able to talk about humor with Chris, a big part of Fargo and the Coen brothers' tone of voice is rooted in a very Jewish, Kafkaesque state of mind. It's a comedy that's rooted in suffering, and that feels like it applies to these stories. To explore that is really exciting. I don't know about every other writer but I don't want to do the same thing over and over again. I get really excited when it's like, "Oh, I've never thought of that," and there are new things that you can explore. So, we've had a great collaboration."
Featuring Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Jessie Buckley, Salvatore Esposito, Gaetano Bruno, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Bird, Anji White, E'myri Crutchfield, Timothy Olyphant, and Jack Huston, the fourth season of Fargo premiered Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FX. This news was first published over at Collider.