The Coen Brothers Reveal 'Fargo' Is Based On A True Story After All

Here's what actually happened.
Universal Studios

Dontcha know it's been 20 years since "Fargo" was released?

The comedy/crime thriller put the Coen brothers on the map. It was a success at the box office, won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, has now inspired a critically acclaimed TV series and is probably the main reason anyone anywhere is ever thinking about Arby's.

(We got no beef with that.)

In addition to the accents, one of the film's trademarks is its iconic opening "true story" text. It reads:

This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.

It's gripping; it's powerful; and it's completely made up. Or, is it ...?

In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, the Coen brothers set the record straight about what's real in "Fargo" and what isn't.

Ethan Coen first explained why the pair added the "true story" disclaimer to the film, saying, "We wanted to make a movie just in the genre of a true story movie. You don't have to have a true story to make a true story movie."

Still, it turns out "Fargo" may be more realistic than you think.

"There are actually two little elements in the story that were based on actual incidents," Joel Coen told HuffPost. "One of them is the fact that there was a guy, I believe in the '60s or '70s, who was gumming up serial numbers for cars and defrauding the General Motors Finance Corporation. There was no kidnapping. There was no murder. It was a guy defrauding the GM Finance Corporation at some point."

He continued, "The other thing based on something real: There was a murder in Connecticut, where a man killed his wife and disposed of the body -- put her into a wood chipper. But beyond that, the story is made up."

The "Woodchipper Murder" of Helle Crafts is known as inspiration for the film, but the true story of someone fudging serial numbers -- like William H. Macy's character Jerry Lundegaard does in the movie -- isn't as widely publicized and appears to be a revelation even die-hard fans probably didn't know.

Happy 20 years, "Fargo." Are we excited for the next 20? You betcha.

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