FX’s adaptation of the film Fargo has found its lead: Billy Bob Thornton will star in the show.
The casting marks the Armageddon and Bad Santa’s actor’s first TV series regular role since his breakout performance in Sling Blade in 1996. That’s actually the same year the Coen brothers released their Oscar-winning Fargo film.
FX has picked up the show for a close-ended 10-episode limited series with Noah Hawley (Bones) writing the script.
The original film followed a pregnant sheriff who unraveled a botched kidnapping plot. But the series tells an entirely different story, with new characters (one is a young deputy in her 20s). Thornton will play Lorne Malvo, “a rootless, manipulative man who meets a small town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction.”
FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said Friday that the show successfully captures the spirit of the film. “It’s hard to describe how remarkably true to the film it is,” he said, noting that when he sent Hawley’s script to the film’s writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen, the brothers replied “we don’t know how to give notes, can we rewrite it?” But then just sent back “half dozen pages with a few dialogue suggestions.”
“I think people are going to be entranced with that show,” Landgraf said. “[Hawley’s] managed to [create] a new version of Fargo that’s its own thing.”