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Juno Temple, Jennifer Jason Leigh on Joining Fargo, The Safety of Playing Off Each Other

FX’s anthology series Fargo has returned for its fifth season with another dark, funny chapter of mishaps in the heavily accented, Minnesota-North Dakota region of the United States. At the head of the cast is Juno Temple, fresh off three consecutive Emmy nominations for the Apple TV+ series, Ted Lasso. Playing the mysterious main character’s mother-in-law is the exceptional Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Above the Line had the chance to chat briefly with Temple and Leigh, who gushed about how much they love and respect each other, which made crafting an onscreen dynamic that could best be described as extremely hostile all the more possible. They also shared their preexisting admiration for the 1996 film and previous seasons of the FX adaptation.

Above the Line: What was your relationship with the Fargo brand before coming on to the show?

Juno Temple: I had been a huge fan of the original movie and also of the show. I remember the first season I watched right about the around the time it came out and I genuinely was blown away. I thought it was a true continuation of the Coen Brothers’ dark humor.

Jennifer Jason Leigh: Yeah, I was a huge fan of the movie, obviously, too, and I had no idea how they could make a show based on that film. Then it was completely its own universe, and it felt so true to the material at the same time. I became a huge fan and watched every year. I love it, and I love that you’re always meeting new people.

Temple: Each one is its own chapter, too. Each installment is its own standalone piece, so you’re also getting to be excited about a new story, but with the same tone each time, which is a very, very cool thing, I think.

ATL: Season Five actually feels most like Season One and the movie, but then things diverge in very unexpected ways, which is really cool. 

Temple: Yeah, I second that.

Leigh: For sure, third it.

ATL: Juno, I think a lot of American audiences are most familiar with you from Ted Lasso. What do you think is in store for people who tune in to watch this show expecting to see Keeley?

Temple: Dot is a very different woman, a seemingly typical Minnesota housewife who, throughout this season, has her past catch up with her, and there are some darker secrets that she doesn’t want to have put out in the world again. She does anything and everything possible to protect her home and her family that she loves more than anything.

ATL: She’s very resourceful. Would you consider yourself to be like that as a person?

Temple: I definitely don’t think I’m as resourceful as her, but after playing this character, I feel like I could start Dot’s DIY Booby Trap Your Home.

Juno Temple on Fargo (FX, photo by Frank W. Ockenfells III)

ATL: Jennifer, after recent TV roles in shows like Hunters and Atypical, what appealed to you about the role of Lorraine? 

Leigh: The things I get to say as Lorraine, just the dialogue, where she stands and the family, her relationship with Dot. I just love the character so much, and also all the surprises that Fargo has, for every character and all the relationships and how they evolve and change. Everything is so unexpected. You think you know what you’re watching, and then you know nothing. I love all of that.

Temple: And that happened in real time for us, too, where the scripts, we didn’t have all of them at once. So we were getting surprises as we went along too, being like, what?! Which was great.

ATL: The scenes that the two of you share are very intense. How familiar were each of you with each other’s work before working together on this? 

Temple: A huge fan, yeah.

Leigh: Familiar. Very familiar. I’m a huge fan of Juno’s too, so it was really exciting. Just so much fun. It felt like a reward, almost, to be able to work with her.

Temple: Also, we were really able to play with each other, push in places, because there was an immediate safety. Especially when you’re playing characters with friction on camera, the trust there means that you can really push it.

Leigh: That’s the best thing, when you love the person you’re playing opposite, and you’ve got scenes where you really don’t like each other. You feel so much safer to explore that than if you didn’t like the person. Then it’s much scarier. Yeah, this makes it fun.

Dave Foley, Jennifer Jason Leigh on Fargo (FX/Michelle Faye)

ATL: What do you think would surprise audiences most about the experience of making this show?

Temple: The weather is a big thing. The consistency of when you’ve shot a part of a scene, and it’s been snow globe snow, and then they have to match that for a second part of a scene and they do that so seamlessly. I think that would be a surprise that people, if they were on the set when we were filming, seeing the end product. The crew on this job was just extraordinary, and the way they guide you through this terrain that is very alien, for me at least, because they had done previous installments, so they really knew it. They really understood it. And like you were saying, the dialogue. The dialogue on the show will never cease to surprise people. Lorraine’s lines are some of the greatest writing of all time.

ATL: One of the great things about Fargo is that every season is different, which unfortunately means that this is the last we’ll see of you on this show. Does this show make you want to do more anthology series after this?

Temple: Yeah, I love an anthology. It feels like doing a super epic long movie.

Leigh: Yeah, exactly, because it’s so complete unto itself, and you get to really explore things in the longer formats.

Temple: But you make the same kind of close friendships that you would doing a TV series.

The first two episodes of FX’s Fargo are now streaming on Hulu with new episodes airing on FX every Tuesday.

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