Fargo scene-stealer Allison Tolman was the heart—and brains—of FX’s movie-to-TV adaptation. Playing dogged deputy police officer Molly Solverson was Tolman’s first major acting role—and now it’s her first Emmy-nominated role. The 32-year-old is in the running for best supporting actress in a miniseries or movie. Spoiler alert: She’s pretty stoked about the nod.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congrats! Were you awake when the nominations were announced? How did you find out you’ve been shortlisted?
ALLISON TOLMAN: Thank you! It’s awesome that the show is so well-represented in so many categories. I was awake; I didn’t have to wake up much earlier than usual. I was awake and logged in with my cat in my lap. I’m at home in Chicago right now, so it was nice to be able to be home while I got this news, and be in a familiar place with familiar surroundings.
It was just you and your cat? Or were other people there to yell and jump around with you?
My boyfriend was here; I made sure he had not left for work yet. He said, “I’ll stay with you in case you faint.” [Laughs] So he was here with me, which was great. I just kind of collapsed [when the nomination came in] with a sigh of relief. It was so nerve-racking waiting to find out, and then they didn’t air the category in the actual broadcast so I had to wait for the full list. It wasn’t like I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna be so sad if it doesn’t happen,” it was just the anticipation of waiting was so intense.
Did you had any early thoughts about what you might wear to such a big event if you got nominated?
I have a good friend whose fiancée, Summer Herriage, is in fashion and she’s agreed to help me out for the Emmys. So she started looking a week ago. She said, “I’m confident [you'll be nominated]” and I said, “Don’t jinx it!” So she’s been looking for dresses and things, then I’ll be out in Los Angeles back and forth between now and then for fittings and to try to put together something fun. It’s one of the most fun parts of this bizarre new life—getting to play dress-up a lot.
When you were shooting on the show, did you know that you were working on something special? Did the cast and crew have that feeling?
I knew that it was special. I knew that the material was good and I knew the experience was special. I was having the time of my life. And I felt like we were doing really good work. But I didn’t realize the magnitude and the scope of those things until it started airing and saw how it was being received. I think the others maybe had a little bit of a better idea. I think they knew how good it was and how well it would be received, especially the producers—they were pretty confident from the beginning that people were gonna really like the show. So I’m glad they were right.
Why did Molly resonate so much with fans and Emmy voters?
It was really kind of amazing, wasn’t it? I think that was one of the neatest things about this whole process, was how well-received Molly was. I was so proud of her in a weird way. It was thrilling to see people react to a character who is just good in that way with such warm positivity, and to be rooting for her so hard was really nice. And I think, I read an article saying we were waiting for a character like this. In the age of anti-heroes and Walter White and the Tony Sopranos, to have a character who is just a decent person is revolutionary in a really bizarre way. I think that really spoke to people and I think that was Noah [Hawley's] writing. And I think it was the right role for me and I was the right actress for her. And we created this very sort of knowable, likable, familiar character that really resonated with people.