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By Suzanne

Billy Bob Thornton

Interview with Billy Bob Thornton of "Fargo" on FX 4/8/14


Final Transcript
April 9, 2014/10:00 a.m. PDT


Kristy Silvernail / Senior Manager, Media Relations, FX Networks
Billy Bob Thornton / ďLorne Malvo,Ē Fargo


Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Fargo conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Kristy Silvernail. Please go ahead.

Kristy: Hello, and welcome to the Fargo conference call with the series star, Billy Bob Thornton, who plays ďLorne Malvo.Ē Weíd like to thank everyone for joining us today and remind you that this call is for print purposes only. No audio may be used. Due to the high volume of journalists on the line we respectfully request that you limit yourself to only one question at a time and then get back in the queue for any follow-ups you may have. As a reminder, Fargo debuts Tuesday, April 15th at 10:00 p.m. eastern and pacific only on FX. With that said, letís open it up for questions.

Moderator: Thank you. We do have a question from Lisa Steinberg. Please state your media affiliation.

Lisa: Hi, Iím with Starry Constellation Magazine. Itís an honor to speak with you.

Billy Bob: Well, nice to speak with you.

Lisa: Was there anything about this character that you added to the role that wasnít already really scripted for you?

Billy Bob: A weird haircut, which was actually a mistake. I got a bad haircut and we had planned on dyeing my hair and a dark beard and all that kind of thing, but I didnít plan on having bangs. But then, instead of fixing it, it wouldnít do, right, so I didnít fix it because I looked at myself in the mirror and I thought, hang on a second here, this is like 1967 L.A. rock. I could be the bass player of the Buffalo Springfield. This is good. Or, Ken Burns, the dark side of Ken Burns.

And bangs are normally associated with innocence and I thought that juxtaposition was pretty great, so that was added. So, really just the look and Noah Hawleyís script was so tightly written, so good, that all I kind of had to do was show up really.

Lisa: Okay. Thank you so much.

Billy Bob: Thank you, hon.

Moderator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Bill Zwecker with the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bill: Hi, there, Billy Bob. Nice to talk to you.

Billy Bob: Thank you, you, too, man.

Bill: You know, itís interesting, you described, I saw somewhere you described the character here of ďLorne MalvoĒ as conscienceless and Iíd be curious how you go about finding that within yourself to play this conscienceless Ė hard to say Ė character?

Billy Bob: Well, you know, usually when youíre playing a character you think a lot about their back story and that kind of thing and in this instance I didnít want to do that because I doubt ďMalvoĒ thinks much about his past anyway, so even the character, the guy himself, probably wouldnít think much about it.

And, like I said before, it was so well written that I didnít have to really do much in order to portray the character. I think what really attracted me to it was not as much that he didnít have a conscience as he has this bizarre sense of humor where he likes to mess with people, where most criminals if they go in to rob, say, a clothing store or something they go get the money and they get out of there.

But ďMalvoĒ would look at their sweater and say, why are you wearing that sweater? I mean, you work in a clothing store. Look at all those nice sweaters over there. You look like a bag person. And so, itís just a very odd thing.

Itís sort of in keeping with the tone of the Coen Brothers to have a character like that. But Noah managed to walk a tightrope with this thing and he does a great job. I mean, he captured the tone of the Coen Brothers and kept the spirit of their movie, and yet made it its own animal, which is a pretty tough job.

And I just thought it was so clearly drawn and I just had to kind of be there. I looked at ďMalvoĒ as a guy who is a member of the animal kingdom, you know. We donít get mad at polar bears, theyíre all white and fluffy and they do Coke commercials with them at Christmastime and stuff like that, and yet theyíre one of the meanest, most ruthless predators on earth.

And so, ďMalvoĒ probably doesnít think of himself that way. He just thinks of the moment and how do I get the job done?

Bill: Exactly. Well, thank you very much.

Billy Bob: Well, thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Bill Harris, Sun Media.

Bill: Hey, Billy Bob, I wanted to ask you about the craft, the acting craft of sort of conveying menace, which, obviously, you do very well. I think the last time I saw you in person would have been in January and you certainly have, you look like you could be a long distance runner, like a track and field athlete and yet I see you on screen and sometimes I get the impression that you could beat up the world if you wanted to.

And I donít know if itís something that you convey, is it in your eyes, is it in your tone? How exactly do you convey menace, both physical and I guess emotional menace?

Billy Bob: Well, thatís a good question, Bill. It is a tough one. When you weigh 135 pounds and youíre telling people who are six-four, 250 to get out of your way, how do you do that? Well, a lot of that is exactly what you said, which is in the eyes. If someone is talking to you and tells you that you ought to do something and you can tell they mean it, those are the scary people.

And I worked in a prison years and years ago on a movie and I was told by these guys, there were all these guys with the Aryan Brotherhood and some of them had tattoos and theyíre big, muscled guys and everything and this one guy told me, he said, ďDo you see that little skinny guy over there in the corner, the one thatís not talking, just kind of sits by himself? Thatís the big guy right there.Ē He said, ďThatís the guy you donít want to mess with.Ē

And I talked to the guy ultimately and I could tell that he meant what he said. So, those are the people you want to watch out for. And itís like maybe I can break this guy in half, but he would hunt me down, he would crawl until his fingers were bloody on the asphalt to get me. So, those are the ones.

And I look at Malvo as a type of sort of snake charmer, you know. Once he looks at you youíre under some sort of spell.

Bill: Well, thanks. Iíll take that as a personal safety tip.

Billy Bob: Me, too.

Bill: Take care.

Billy Bob: Thanks, Bill.

Moderator: The next question is from Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian newspaper.

Kristi: Yes, hi.

Billy Bob: Hi, Kristi.

Kristi: Thanks for taking the time to do this today.

Billy Bob: Oh, no problem.

Kristi: One of the things that is so fascinating about Fargo is that you make the character of ďMalvoĒ both sort of really scary and weirdly likeable. And it seems like you really enjoy playing that character and I was just wondering if that balance of sort of humor and menace was hard to bring off.

Billy Bob: Well, actually, thatís kind of been my wheelhouse is either sort of intense characters, but who have a certain sympathetic streak and also a sense of humor. And Iíll have 10-year-olds come up to me and say, ďOh, Bad Santa, I just love you.Ē Itís like, what? So, yeah, I donít know what it is, but maybe itís that ďMalvoĒ senses weakness in people or stupidity or whatever.

Heís got this sort of animal instinct and he just smells people out and I think a lot of times, especially these days and times when the world is going kind of crazy, I think weíre all frustrated and want to just shake people a little bit. And so maybe through ďMalvoĒ you get a chance to slap somebody around a little bit, I donít know. Maybe thatís it.

But one way or the other, yeah, it is a fine balance. Youíve got to be menacing, but I look at ďMalvoísĒ sense of humor as his only recreation. I mean, itís like for ďMalvoĒ to mess with people the way he does, which he doesnít have to, he could just leave or just use them for whatever heís using them for, but he still has to mess with them some. And I think for him, thatís his recreation. Itís his only social contact and so, screwing with people for ďMalvoĒ is kind of like jet skiing for most people.

Kristi: Okay. And I know youíve talked about this before, but I just kind of wanted to talk to you again about kind of what opportunities working in television in a series like this presents at this moment in time? Youíve talked a bit about how the independent film world, as it was some years ago, isnít quite as fertile a place to work and that a lot of that has moved to television now. I just was wondering again how a series like this kind of fits into that reality.

Billy Bob: Well, the fact of the matter is we have to face this, that Baby Boomers, in particular, really have to look to television now, not only the performers and the writers and everything, but the audience. People over 40-something, they grew up in the heyday of the great movies of the 50s, 60s and 70s and we had a little drought in the 80s here.

And then the early 90s through like the late 90s was a real great time and we thought it was a Renaissance. And what we didnít realize was that it was going to be so short. We thought it would last a couple of decades. And television now, like when I was coming up it was a bad word. And now, it has a cache and actors are clamoring to go on television because itís a place that we can do the things we were doing in movies.

Thereís a spot that television is filling that the movie business is not, which is the medium budget studio movies, the $25 million, $30 million adult dramas or adult comedies and the higher budget independent films, the $10 million, $12 million independent films. And you can still make a great independent film, but youíre not guaranteed anybody will ever see it because nobody takes that much interest in putting it out, you know putting money into distributing it.

So, they want to put 10 movie stars in a $3 million movie so they can cover their asses on the foreign sales and all that kind of stuff and thereís more freedom in television because in an independent film even or a studio film, you can do a movie about heroin smugglers, but you canít smoke. Wait a minute, you can sell heroin, but you canít smoke? I donít understand that.

But theyíre going for a certain demographic or whatever it is and trying to sell it everywhere. And on TV you have even more creative freedom now. And I think part of that is censorship has loosened up over the years and now you have sex and violence and language and stuff on TV. So, all those things that made us not want to do television when I was coming up in the 80s are gone.

And so thereís no reason not to and I have to face it, thatís my audience now and all the guys my age, the ones, all of us that came up together, a lot of us even born the same year, Costner and Bill Paxton and Dennis Quaid and Kevin Bacon; our audience watches television and I think The Sopranos I guess kicked it off.

Thatís when we all started thinking, hey, wait a minute. This is the place to be and shows like The Wire and things like that. And you can do terrific work in television now and have a lot of freedom and there are independent films that pop through every now and then and there are some good studio movies that come through every now and then. But itís the exception rather than the rule now.

Kristi: Yeah, okay. Well, thank you so much.

Billy Bob: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Rick Mele with

Billy Bob: Hey, how are you?

Rick: Good. Yourself?

Billy Bob: Iím great.

Rick: Iím wondering, weíre starting to see these more contained single season limited run TV series like True Detective. What is the feeling about that format to you as an actor? It almost seems like itís sort of a, I know Noah Hawley described the show as like a 10-hour movie in a way.

Billy Bob: Well, thatís true and thatís what it felt like making it. It felt like doing a 10-hour independent film. Thatís very appealing. Iíve been accused many times as a writer/director of my pace is too leisurely and itís too long and stuff like that.

Well, hereís a chance to do that kind of thing and youíve got 10 hours to do it in. Actually, it feels great and thereís great appeal in that for actors, writers and maybe not so much directors because the directing world in television is more, those guys just come in and do a couple of episodes and theyíre gone.

But for the creator or writer itís a really great thing to be able to develop characters and develop stories. We would all like to make at least a three-hour movie, but here you get a chance to do a 10-hour. But also, this doesnít mean that Iím giving up doing movies. So, I can do this, do 10 episodes and itís over and then still do two movies that year.

So, itís very appealing in that sense and Iím sure that came into play with McConaughey and Woody when they did True Detective. Itís a way to do both. If you came up as a film actor you donít have to give it up. You can do great work in television and then on the occasion that you get a movie that you really love you can still do it.

I had no desire to get involved in a TV series that was going to last six or seven years. Iím not saying I wouldnít, but that wasnít really what I was looking for. When I was offered this, it seemed perfect to me. So, thereís a great appeal in it and I think youíll see more and more of it.

Iím even thinking that way now. Itís like some of these movies that I canít get made, like if I walked in a studio and pitched this movie that I want to do, they laugh you out of the room. Itís like, are you kidding me? You canít sell bubble gum and toys with that.

And Iím thinking, well, you know what, maybe thereís a way to do this movie as a three-hour, or not three-hour, but a three part thing like, for instance, Costner did with the Hatfields & McCoys.

Rick: Great. Well, thank you.

Billy Bob: Thank you so much.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Stuart Miller, New York Daily News.

Stuart: Hi. So, youíve been talking about what the appeal is of doing television, but were you wary at all of tackling something, before you read Noahís scripts, of tackling something that was so iconic, the idea of taking this movie and doing something new with it?

Billy Bob: If Fargo had come out in 1986 and then this came up in 1996 I would have been more worried. Iím not as worried now because of the way it works with the social network and there are a lot of blogs and this and that. You canít win anyway.

So, because of that you just have to stop worrying about anything. Itís like if I were to say something outrageous today, then tomorrow itís going to be everywhere and your career is in jeopardy and you owe the public an apology and all this kind of thing.

And then if I make the apology, everybody gets online and they start saying, oh, he only apologized for his career. But if you donít apologize they say, what an asshole. He didnít apologize. So, you canít win no matter what you do.

So, these days I donít make decisions based on what people are going to think as much as I would have, like I said, 15, 20 years ago.

Stuart: Were you wary of whether it could be pulled off, though?

Billy Bob: No, I had read the pilot script. I was offered it and read the pilot script immediately. It was so well written that Noah had walked this fine line of channeling the Coen Brothers, the spirit and the tone of their movie and yet making it a new animal.

So, I thought, well, you know what, this guy has done it. He really has pulled this off. So, I didnít worry simply because I had read the pilot and it was so good. And I didnít feel like it was a rip-off, you know.

Stuart: All right, thanks.

Billy Bob: Cool.

Moderator: Your next question is from Preston Barta, North Texas Daily.

Preston: Hello, Mr. Thornton. How are you?

Billy Bob: Good, how are you doing?

Preston: Pretty great. So, youíve written and directed a handful of projects before. Do you ever find that your own ideas as a creator ever intrude on projects where youíre working strictly as an actor, like Fargo?

Billy Bob: Clarify that for me, Iím not sure exactly what you mean.

Preston: Do your ideas as a writer and director ever intrude on projects where youíre working strictly as an actor?

Billy Bob: Not so much. When I go there as an actor I like to just go in and do my job. Every now and then, you kind of, maybe if youíre working with a director and this has only happened to me a couple of times ever, you go in there and youíve got a director and maybe it doesnít quite get to the plan.

You might end up kind of thinking, you know, hey, are you sure you want to do that? Are you sure you want to put the camera there. You find yourself every now and then kind of thinking it. But I try not to say anything. You just try to do the best you can.

And one of the best ways to do that is when they tell you to do something that you know is wrong, you just nod your head and say okay, and then go do what you want to do anyway. Thatís about the only way around it really.

Preston: Thatís great. Thank you, sir.

Billy Bob: Okay, bud. Thanks.

Moderator: Next weíll go to the line of Ruta Kupfer with Haaretz.

Ruta: Hello.

Billy Bob: Hi.

Ruta: Hi, this is me from Tel Aviv. So, if you donít care about what others will write about in their blogs, so are you ready for saying something outrageous now?

Billy Bob: Oh no, I certainly am not out there to, I donít really have anything outrageous to say right now. What happens is, in the end, sometimes writers get kind of screwed by that because people start to play it more close to the vest, do you know what I mean?

I meant more like I donít make my choices based on that. It doesnít mean that Iím just going to go out there and say outrageous things constantly. Like I said, I donít really have any outrageous things to say much anymore anyway. But I was speaking more of like the creative choices I make. I think you just have to do what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do and not try to tailor make things for people as much because people are going to say what theyíre going to say one way or the other and thereís not a lot you can do about it.

I mean there are times when somebody will come up to you on the street and tell you how wonderful they think you are and then write an article about you thatís just scathing. So, you never know whoís who and whatís what. And I just try to be nice to people and do my job and that kind of thing.

But I certainly donít make my creative choices based on what I think people are going to think. I want the audience to like it, obviously. And I want critics to, hopefully, like it. But I donít go out of my way to, as I said, tailor make things.

Ruta: And, Billy Bob, not Billy Bob, your character says to ďLester,Ē ďYouíre problem is you spend your life thinking there are rules and there arenít.Ē What do you think that ďMalvoísĒ problem is?

Billy Bob: His problem? What I think his problem is is very different than what he thinks his problem is. I donít think he has a problem. Do you know what I mean? Heís an animal.

Ruta: Heís a psychopath you think, oh, okay.

Billy Bob: In other words, he exists in the animal kingdom more than anything else. He goes by an animalistic instinct and so people like that donít ever consider themselves having a problem and they also think theyíre invincible.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times.

Michelle: Hi there, great to talk to you.

Billy Bob: You, too.

Michelle: Hello?

Billy Bob: Hello.

Michelle: Hi. So, ďMalvoĒ is a pretty mysterious character. So, Iím wondering if you know what his motivations are from episode to episode as youíre going along or if you kind of like to be left in the dark and kind of fill in the blanks or if the writers tell you the reasons for why heís doing some of these crazy things.

Billy Bob: Well, the reasons arenít as important because ďMalvoĒ thinks in the moment. He has a plan and he knows where he has to go. Itís like an alligator. An alligator has to eat one day and so if somebody jumps in the swamp to take a swim he will eat them. So, thereís no two ways about that.

And thatís really who ďMalvoĒ is. And so I donít need to know necessarily. And in terms of knowing the episodes ahead of time we have the opportunity to ask Noah; in other words, he would tell us as much as we wanted to know. And I didnít want to know about the first four episodes or so.

And after that I had some questions. I did want to know because once we got deeper into the plot, I did need to know where he was headed at a couple of directions, just in order to know how to play a couple of scenes.

Michelle: Yeah. Okay, great. Thank you.

Billy Bob: Thank you.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of David Martindale of Fort Worth Star Telegram.

David: Hi, Billy Bob.

Billy Bob: Hey, David.

David: Yeah, I saw the first two hours already. Enjoyed it, youíre really wonderful in it. Iím going to ask you a question about one of your costars, Allison Tolman. Iím doing a story about her. She has ties to this area. What do you think of her as an actress and as a person? Sheís really good in this show, isnít she?

Billy Bob: Oh, sheís terrific. Yeah, I think sheís a terrific actress and just a joy to be around as a person. Sheís like a force of nature. I mean that girl comes in the room and you know sheís there. Sheís just a real, real sweet person. And I canít say enough good things about her. Sheís just a real pro, takes her job very seriously, but she also creates a really good atmosphere around herself. Sheís just a great personality to be around.

David: Thank you so much. Enjoyed your show.

Billy Bob: Thanks, man.

Moderator: Weíll go to the line of Mikkel Kosob with Sound Venue.

Mikkel: Hello, Mr. Thornton. Itís an honor speaking with you. The guy you play in the series is a hardcore guy and somewhat a closed book. Which human traits do you see in him?

Billy Bob: Well, probably the only one thatís apparent is he does have a sense of humor. It may be a sick sense of humor, but it is at least a sense of humor. He really likes to toy with people and he gets some kind of kick out of that. And thatís probably the human quality.

Because, I mean, you wouldnít see, as I said before, heís sort of really more part of the animal kingdom than anything else, but I donít think a raccoon probably has much of a sense of humor. But I would say thatís probably the closest.

Mikkel: Great, thank you.

Billy Bob: Great. Thank you, sir.

Moderator: Our next question is from Greg David, TV Guide Canada.

Greg: Hey, Billy Bob. Thanks for taking the time today.

Billy Bob: No sweat, man.

Greg: Off the top you mentioned Noahís name a couple of times and the quality of the scripts. So, can you talk a little bit about those scripts and how you just showed up to say the lines? Because itís pretty specialized dialogue that everybody says. Not everybody says foot in a toaster oven when referring to a weird thing theyíve seen.

Billy Bob: Right, exactly. Thatís something that he has in common with the Coen Brothers, actually. Their scripts are very tightly written and if you donít say those words the way theyíre written, it doesnít come across as well. Iíve been largely an improvisational kind of actor most of my career, except for when Iíve worked with the Coen Brothers.

And now that Iím working with Noah, I rarely change anything with Noah because itís a very specific point of view and type of language and maybe sometimes something might sound a little formal even, even that Malvo says, maybe itís not something that would just naturally come out of my mouth.

But once you plug into that, then it becomes natural to you and I respect him as a writer so much that I defer to him and I think I would say the same thing about the rest of the cast. I mean, thereís very little discussion on the set about changing things. We donít come over to him and say, hey, instead of this, I think Iíll say this. We donít have a lot of that around that set.

And the same experience, like I said, with the Coen Brothers. You just do it because there was a reason he wrote it that way and it becomes clear to you when you see it and when you perform it.

Greg: Great. And then, as a follow-up, you said that you had a few questions about four episodes in, but did you ever ask Noah about ďMalvoísĒ back story and why he ended up the way that he did?

Billy Bob: You know, I purposely didnít because I think ďMalvoĒ himself wouldnít ever think about his past or his back story. When you think the way he does, he thinks in the moment and whatever the job thatís at hand. And it wasnít important.

And besides, if I did, letís say we came up with a back story for him, that coldness and that sort of ruthless thing that he has, if Iíve learned that, well, the reason ďMalvoĒ is like that is because he was abused and had a horrible childhood, all this kind of thing, I might bring more sentimentality to the character.

And it might mess it up. There are a lot of people who already are saying that they kind of root for ďMalvoĒ in a way, but Iím certainly not trying to do that. But I do think ďMalvoĒ is a good person to vicariously get kind of a thrill out of maybe. And sometimes we donít want the bad guy to get caught because otherwise the story is over.

You kind of want to at least see it through to the end. And so, really, yeah, back story didnít come into it. It normally does as an actor. I mean, if I were playing ďLesterísĒ brother in this or something I would have to do some homework and Martin [Freeman] and I would have to work on or at least test out the chemistry with each other and that kind of thing.

But with ďMalvo,Ē heís from out of town. Heís a drifter. Nobody knows him, knows what heís about. And I think it was important for me to not dig into it too much. I think it would have affected the performance in a negative way.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Jeananne Craig, Press Association.

Jeananne: Billy Bob, hello. Thanks for talking to us today.

Billy Bob: Oh, no problem.

Jeananne: Tell us how it was to work with Martin Freeman and if you think he pulled off the menace with a nice accent.

Billy Bob: Well, first of all, it was a pleasure working with him. Heís so easy to work with and a terrific guy and a terrific actor. And the scenes I did with him were so easy to do and I think a lot of that is because weíre such opposites that weíre not playing buddies or anything.

So, I just sit down and do what I do and he does what he does and thatís the way it would happen in real life and all of that. But in terms of the accent, he did a stellar job. You would never know if you ran into him that he wasnít from Duluth or Fargo or wherever. He did a great job. So, he must have worked very hard at that. Either that, or heís just naturally good with accents because it was pristine.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Charles Webb, Nerdist.

Charles: Hi. Iím pleased to finally get a chance to talk to you.

Billy Bob: Oh, you, too. Thanks, Charles.

Charles: Talking about working with Martin, thereís such an interesting contrast between those two characters. On one hand, you have ďLester Nygaard,Ē who is a man who canít control his own destiny and then you have ďLorne,Ē who is almost perfectly in control of his own destiny or at least he feels like he is. Could you talk about that contrast a little bit and playing that in a role?

Billy Bob: Well, ďMalvoĒ smells weakness in people, he smells nervousness, weakness, fear, anything like that and has an abundance of confidence in himself. I donít think he ever considers losing, whereas ďLesterĒ is just a nervous ball of mess. And I do like when you see two characters at the opposite end of the spectrum together. They end up being kind of strange bedfellows and it was a really interesting dynamic.

We didnít really have to work on it. It just naturally happened. And Martin himself seems to be a very confident person, so I think he probably maybe had to downgrade his confidence a little bit. And me, by nature, Iím a very nervous, worrisome person, so I had to drop that a little. So, I think both of us had to definitely shed some of our real life stuff in order to play the characters.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Ernie Estrella with

Ernie: Hi, Billy Bob. I wanted to ask about the fact that you are able to explore this character probably deeper and longer than any of your other characters on film. Can you talk about being able to get comfortable with a character and the length at which you can work at creating your version of ďMalvoĒ?

Billy Bob: Well, yeah, it is a real blessing that you have 10 hours to develop a character and I think thatís one of the appeals to doing these, especially the ones weíre doing, the 10-hour things or the eight-hour things that McConaughey and Woody did.

Coming from the film business you still want to feel like youíre making a movie and yet TV is such a great place to be right now. So, I think it was a real, it felt like a blessing to me to be able to have that time and to watch this story unfold at its own pace and everything.

In terms of working on the character, I mean Noah had drawn it so clearly. I think with all the characters that we really did just show up and do his bidding, which was a very clear vision. Itís funny, I guess the one thing that I had to get used to is having, for each two episodes thereís a different director and each one has a different energy.

They were all terrific, but they have different energies. So getting used to different directors was the most difficult part, just in terms of the way they deal with actors and everything. But I never went on, I never said, yeah, Iím good letís move on to the next shot until I looked over at Noah and got a wink from him because this is his vision.

I really put myself in his hands. I think we all did.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Brent Hankin, Nerd Repository.

Brent: Howís it going, man?

Billy Bob: Oh, not bad. Howís it going? I like the name of your thing there, itís fun.

Brent: Thank you, thank you. We like it, too. Hey, aside from being an actor, youíre also a very accomplished writer and director and you mentioned earlier now with these ideas coming out like True Detective and now Fargo where theyíre a limited series. You mentioned you were kind of interested in that.

Looking toward the future would you be more interested in acting in another project like that or do you have your eyes on maybe writing and directing something that you can play out over the course of several episodes?

Billy Bob: Probably, immediately more as an actor. But down the road I definitely have my eye on at least writing something. Probably not as a director so much because directors who are directing a series they have different ones come in all the time. So, youíre kind of coming onto a moving train and Iíve tended to generate my own things as a writer and director most of the time.

And if I could create an original thing like, say, Kevin did with the Hatfields &McCoys or something, something that I came up with that was more movie length, like say a three part thing or if they start doing more two-hour movies for TV, I think that would be more where I would go as a writer or, especially a director.

I think my nervousness or if I was hesitant at all about it it would just be simply because thereís some great TV creator/writers out there and Iíd probably feel very intimidated, hoping that I was able to come up with something innovative or at least interesting to people because Iím influenced by Southern novelists mainly and kind of make books on film, which I think is probably obsolete in the movie business these days. Theyíre not ones that the distributors are clamoring for.

But I think if I could come up with something that might be entertaining; Iíve also thought about different movies of mine that I canít get made because the movie business is not interested in certain types of movies for adults and for us Baby Boomers, so maybe since the Baby Boomers are watching TV, maybe some of those movies I canít get made in the film business as a writer and director, maybe I could find some way to parley that into television.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Amy Gustafson, St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Amy: Hi.

Billy Bob: Hi, how are you?

Amy: Good, good. So, at one point in the show you have to take on a Minnesota accent and pass yourself off as a local minister, I think, with ďMalvoĒ embracing this Minnesota niceness. Iím wondering, did you do any research on people from the region or have you had any experience with Minnesota voice to draw from?

Billy Bob: Oh yeah, I shot half of Simple Plan up in Delano and also, Iíve got some friends in L.A. who are from there. Iím around actors, you know, Sean William Scott is from up there and Kelly Lynch is an old friend of mine and Kelly Lynch used to do impressions, so, for family and for her neighbors and stuff for me all the time.

And I always found it very funny. Itís odd because that part of the country, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas, up in there, and Montana, to the rest of the country theyíre almost like foreigners. Itís the only place that exists like that in the country. I think thatís why weíre so interested in those people in movies.

The Coen Brothers have really opened up a vein there. Itís kind of alien to some of us and itís just a really interesting culture because you guys can talk about something thatís really heavy and yet sound like youíre talking about going to the grocery store. Itís just astounding. Itís a great kind of character to explore.

And we shot in Calgary and sometimes the Canadian accent in that area is very similar to it in some ways and so we were around all those people from Calgary who had a version of that already. So, weíre surrounded by it and itís a very interesting accent.

You know, Martin and all the people in the show who had to be from there I thought did an excellent job at it. And, you know, mine, I wasnít supposed to be able to do it perfectly because I was just coming up with it off the cuff, in the moment, to get out of something. But it was fun to do it.

I was kind of jealous of everybody else getting to work on that, so it was nice to be able to, just for a minute at least, just to do it there. It was a lot of fun.

Amy: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Jami Philbrick with iamROGUE.

Jami: Hey, Billy Bob, how are you doing?

Billy Bob: Hey, Jami. Howís it going, bud?

Jami: Itís going good. Youíve sort of talked about tone a little bit earlier and I wanted to ask you having worked with the Coen Brothers before in a film they have such unique comedic sensibilities, did you feel that that sort of gave you an advantage coming into this universe and working on this series regarding the tone and helping to shape your performance?

Billy Bob: Oh, yes, thereís no question about it. Having known the Coen Brothers for so long and having worked with them, I mean I can plug into that pretty easily because I just love their stuff and love their vibe and so I think having worked with them and having known them definitely helped me.

I didnít need a lot of explanation about what we were up to there. It was pretty clear and then you just go try to pull it off, you know. But the set was very similar in some ways, other than the rush and the different directors; I mean, with the Coen Brothers, obviously youíre dealing with just the two of them, but it was very, very helpful having worked with them.

Jami: And real quick, Iím a huge fan of Warren Zevon and his music and I know he was a good friend of yours. With the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony tomorrow night Iím just curious what you think as fans and friends of Warrenís we need to do to get him on that ballot next year and get him in the Hall of Fame. He certainly deserves it.

Billy Bob: Boy, he certainly does deserve it. I would say the main thing that they need to look at and Iím not sure how political it is, Iíve never been near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame much. Iíve had some friends inducted and maybe thereís some politics involved, I really donít know. But Iíll certainly do my part. At least Iíll yap about it and call whoever I can.

But the thing that they need to look at is the real true artists of this world are ones who are unique and had a voice that hadnít been heard before and by voice I mean the whole body of work. If thereís only one of somebody, then they need to be in the Hall of Fame. And there was only one Warren Zevon.

Moderator: And as a reminder, please limit yourself to one question. We have a question from David: Crow from Den of Geek.

David: Hi, Billy Bob.

Billy Bob: Hey, howís it going?

David: Not bad. I just wanted to ask, you mentioned youíve worked with the Coen Brothers before and their executive producer is on the show, so were you able to talk with them either before you took the part or after, even during filming at all about this character and about how it fits into the tone of their vision?

Billy Bob: Well, I didnít talk to them beforehand because I had already been told and had learned that they had given it their blessing and that they had read the pilot and had some input on it, so that was enough for me. Since weíve started, Iíve talked to Ethan a couple of times.

And Ethan, when asked about the pilot he said, ďYeah, itís good.Ē And for Ethan saying yeah, itís good is like him saying, ďThis is fucking amazing.Ē They donít exactly; theyíre not real forthcoming with their emotions sometimes, so to get an itís good from Ethan is, thatís a four-star review, so I was pretty happy with that.

But in reading the script, if someone had told me they wrote it I would have believed it, so that was plenty for me. But then I have talked to Ethan since.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Jeri Jacquin with Military Press.

Jeri: Hi, Billy Bob. How are you today?

Billy Bob: Fine, how are you?

Jeri: Hanging in there. So, on a more relaxing note how much fun was it to play this character?

Billy Bob: Well, it was a lot of fun. Anytime you get a chance to play some extreme character in any direction, itís always a great blessing. So, yeah, I was honored they asked me and honored to be a part of it. Itís a very, very different kind of character, probably the only one I ever played who has no conscience whatsoever. So, thatís kind of an odd character to play.

After youíve done 60-something of these movies youíre always looking for something different and this was right up my alley.

Jeri: Well, you did it really well.

Billy Bob: Oh, well, thank you so much.

Moderator: Next we will go to the line of Jennifer Griffin,

Jennifer: Hi, Billy Bob. Thanks for your time today.

Billy Bob: Oh, no problem. Thanks, Jennifer.

Jennifer: So, Iíve seen the pilot and I absolutely loved it. ďMalvoĒ is so extreme, heís so dark and humorous. And we have ďLester,Ē heís kind of like a T.S. Eliot poem, you know, this quiet despair the whole time. But my question is for fans who havenít seen it, obviously, theyíll want to know whatís going to happen. What can they expect from the pilot and, generally, from the show going forward?

Billy Bob: Well, thatís all Iíve seen also is the pilot. And I, obviously, know what happens, but the pilot really sets it up good. And the great thing about doing 10 episodes of something is that you get to feel like youíre making a movie and at the same time feel like you have something to follow for several weeks.

And each episode just leaves you thinking because all these extreme characters, it just leaves you thinking each time, itís like what in the world are these people going to do next? Whatís he going to do about this and where the hell is this going?

Itís very mysterious and thatís what I like about it. Itís not like cliffhangers and thrillers and things like that, it is a mystery and I think people love mysteries. We always have. Thatís why they never go away. And so, you have the combination of a crime show in sort of a white bread community with a mystery and I just think that people are going to want to know what happens to all these folks, both good and bad.

Jennifer: Yeah, I think they will, too. I loved it. I thought it was great and canít wait to see more.

Billy Bob: Oh, thatís so fantastic. Youíre from Texas, arenít you?

Jennifer: No, Iím actually from Ireland.

Billy Bob: No, Iím messing with you. I guarantee you, if I know anything I know whoís from Texas. But I love the Irish accent, so itís just so good to hear it.

Jennifer: Well, actually Iím listening to your accent. I love it, itís brilliant. Thanks a lot for your time.

Billy Bob: Thank you.

Moderator: We have a question from Kristyn Clarke of Pop Culture Madness.

Kristyn: Hi, Billy Bob. Thank you so much for speaking with us today.

Billy Bob: Well, thank you.

Kristyn: Iím curious, with all of the roles that youíve taken on over the years is there anything that you find that youíre still surprised to learn about yourself?

Billy Bob: Oh, gosh, when you get my age thereís not much youíre surprised about. With this character it was really, because he doesnít have a conscience and because Iím not thinking about a back story here, it didnít cause me to learn a whole lot about myself.

It did make me know that I can do that. I was capable of going in there and like erasing any sort of like human feelings that I might have about a situation. That was an interesting challenge, but it was written that way so I just tried to stick to Noahís thing, you know, his vision.

But a lot of times as an actor youíre trying to think constantly and in this case I was trying not to, so that was a little bit the opposite and so I guess I learned that I could do that. I also learned that when you get in your 50s, that 42 below zero feels much worse than when youíre in your 30s.

Kristyn: I can imagine. Great. Thank you so much.

Billy Bob: Thank you, hon.

Moderator: We have a question from Jamie Ruby,

Jamie: Hi, thanks so much for doing the call today.

Billy Bob: Oh, no problem. Thank you.

Jamie: Yeah, I saw the first two hours and Iíve really enjoyed it so far, too. Itís definitely a different type of show and I like it. So, your character does a lot of crazy things just to upset people and screw up their lives. Is there one, in particular, thatís like your favorite or even just a favorite scene so far that you can think of?

Billy Bob: Well, in the first two episodes I really enjoyed the scene in the hospital with ďLester,Ē just when I first meet him, and a total stranger asking for a drink of his soda pop and just immediately knowing that this guy is weak. This guy is unsure of himself, so I can use him and also Iíve got to give this guy a lesson in life here.

ďMalvoĒ almost takes his victims as students, in a way, too. And that was the first scene we shot and I really enjoyed doing that with him, especially since we were just starting and it didnít turn into an experiment. It just naturally happened because weíre so different.

Normally youíre trying to get a chemistry with an actor, but in this case, it was the opposite. Weíre total strangers and Iím just going to mess with this guy, so it was almost like you needed to come into it cold.

Jamie: Right. Well, Iím really enjoying it so far, so thank you.

Billy Bob: Oh, great. Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue with The TV MegaSite.

Suzanne: Hi, itís an honor to speak with you this morning.

Billy Bob: Oh, thanks, Suzanne.

Suzanne: I watched the first four episodes and I liked it. It reminds me of, I donít know what it reminds me of, a little bit of Twin Peaks, I guess, but not as weird and funnier.

Billy Bob: You know, thatís funny that you said that. Youíre the first person that said that and when I first got on the set and I saw the lighting and I saw the way they were doing things I swear to God, thatís what I said to Noah. I said, ďThis reminds me of Twin Peaks.Ē And not so many people are saying that and thatís interesting you say that because I felt the same thing.

Suzanne: Yeah, itís tighter, the writing is tighter and better and itís not quite as just weird for weirdís sake. But it is very enjoyable and I can tell youíre having a good time with it.

Billy Bob: Oh yeah, no doubt.

Suzanne: Can you speak at all about working with Colin Hanks?

Billy Bob: Oh yeah, heís terrific. I was in a little independent film that kind of came and went with Colin called Parkland, about the Kennedy assassination, but Colin and I had very little interaction with each other in that movie. But I did get to know him personally a little bit and heís a great guy. And the relationship with him in the show is very strange and gets stranger as it goes. So, Iíve really enjoyed my time with him, both personally and professionally. Heís terrific. I think heís going to be a really great young actor for us in the business.

Kristy: Okay, weíve got time for two more quick questions.

Moderator: That will come from the line of Rick Mele with

Rick: Hey, back with another question for you.

Billy Bob: Sure.

Rick: I know it was a pretty rough winter up there in Calgary and pretty much everywhere, but how much does the weather in the location end up becoming almost like another character in the series?

Billy Bob: Oh, it definitely does. Thereís no question about it. When itís that cold, you donít have to do a whole lot of acting to make the audience feel it. I mean, itís just there. And it also kind of keeps you up for it all day. If youíre on a soundstage thatís kind of warm and you get a little lethargic, that can affect you. You didnít have to worry about that up there.

It was really just bone chillingly cold. And I have to say about that, I would work a couple of weeks or 10 days and then get to go home for five or six days and then come back. And, Iím going to L.A., right. And you go back down there and itís 75 degrees or whatever and mild. And it just so happened that every time I was off Calgary got good weather and it warmed up.

It was almost like the weather was ďMalvoĒ to me. It would just mess with me. Every time I was off theyíd say, hey, guess what, itís going to be plus six tomorrow, which for them, plus six is like Hawaii. And for some reason every time I was working it would just get miserable. So, I think the Great Spirit was messing with me a little bit on it.

Moderator: Thank you. Our final question comes from the line if Ernie Estrella with

Ernie: One quick follow-up. You being able to play this character you can probably do things that youíre not able to do in regular society. Was there any one particular scene or act that you did that you got to kind of tick off your bucket list of some naughty thing that you got to do?

Billy Bob: Well, certainly not the killing parts, but just when I would mess with people about stuff. Like every now and then you go someplace, you know, to the cleaners or wherever it is and the people will be so incompetent or just donít understand what youíre up to. Itís like, I told you, you donít starch t-shirts. How could you have a dry cleaner or Laundromat and you donít know that you donít starch t-shirts?

ďMalvoĒ does that kind of stuff. He really calls people on their B.S. And so, I have to say I did enjoy any time I got to mess with somebody.

Ernie: Thanks.

Billy Bob: Great, thanks.

Kristy: All right. Well, thank you so much to everybody for joining us today and, especially, Billy Bob. We really appreciate your time. As a reminder Fargo premieres on Tuesday, April 15th at 10:00 p.m. eastern and pacific only on FX. A complete transcript of the call will be e-mailed to you within approximately 72 hours and you may now disconnect. Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive Teleconference. You may now disconnect.

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