FX brings Chris Rock to ‘Fargo’ for series’ fourth season

Award-winning FX series again changes cast and story for Season 4

Chris Rock stars in the Season 4 premiere of “Fargo” Sunday on FX.

Though the last visit to “Fargo” was a while ago, it’s still on the television map.

Last seen in 2017, the FX drama series inspired by an Oscar-winning movie begins its pandemic-delayed fourth season with two episodes Sunday, Sept. 27 (also streaming starting the next day on FX on Hulu). As is customary, the Emmy- and Peabody-winning show reboots with a new story and cast, with Chris Rock now heading the ensemble as a Kansas City mobster circa 1950. He strikes an accord with a rival family (a member of which is played by Jason Schwartzman) to maintain peace, but unexpected circumstances soon upset that agreement.

Other characters in the new saga include a federal marshal (Timothy Olyphant, returning to FX following his run in “Justified”), a detective (Jack Huston) who can’t filter his impulses, and a “Rabbi” (Ben Whishaw) — per his nickname — who has his own agenda in observing what develops among the criminal competitors, within their own families in some instances.

While Rock is known primarily for comedy, “Fargo” executive producer, writer and sometimes director Noah Hawley says that with Season 4, “Once I had the idea for it, I immediately thought of Chris. And before there was a script, I met with him and pitched him what I wanted to do, and he agreed to sign on … and then, it was four or five months before he saw a script. I definitely was writing with him in mind. I tend not to, but with Chris, he’s special.”

Chris Rock stars in the Season 4 premiere of “Fargo” Sunday on FX.

Rock admits he had a big adjustment to make to the “Fargo” way of working. “It’s intricate, the way they shoot,” he notes. “The camera’s always moving, so it’s not like comedic acting where you kind of wait for your closeup and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m going to give you 13 different versions of this funny thing.’ This is like the New England Patriots, and you have to run the route and (expect) the ball will be there. You’ve got to run the exact route for it to work. The challenge is getting the part down but still getting some of my personality in there.”

Hawley enjoys working elements of history into any season of “Fargo,” since he reflects, “The story of any family is the story of America. What we’ll come to realize with this African-American man who was raised by an Irishman — who himself was raised by both Jews and Italians — is that history is a living thing. And the way that we keep it alive is that we tell stories about our history to keep it fresh in our minds. Otherwise, we forget, so it’s exciting on some level to explore.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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