The Coen brothers' movie "Fargo" is now almost two decades old, but there are still plenty of unsolved mysteries within the dark comedy. The Huffington Post reached out to Peter Stormare, the actor who played the movie's main villain -- Gaear Grimsrud -- to seek at least a few answers as to what was going through the brothers' heads and how things went down behind-the-scenes.
Recently, Stormare has had roles in hit television shows such as "The Blacklist" and "Arrow," in addition to voicing the character of Corporal in "Penguins of Madagascar" -- which was just released on Blu-ray -- but, of course, Stormare will always be particularly fond of his role in the Coen movie that received seven Academy Award nominations and an extensive cult following. You want to read about how Prince was actually almost in this movie? Darn tootin'!
The Coen brothers are known for meticulous planning of scenes, but Stormare talked about how he was able to insert one of his ideas into the movie: the brothers' lack of knowledge about how you're supposed to shove something -- like Steve Buscemi's leg -- into a wood chipper. Stormare elaborated:
They didn't know how to work a wood chipper. I was told to shove his foot down with my hand. I replied, "Crazy! I'm a country boy." You always use some wood so you don't get your hand down there. I continued, "If I use some firewood, then I can use it as a weapon when the cop shows up." Throw it at her. They thought it didn't sound too good to throw a piece of firewood, but they did let me try and that is a one taker. Almost hit Frances. But it was kept as is and is pretty funny. Just to think you can outsmart a cop with a drawn gun with a piece of wood.
Stormare added, "So they are open for all small ideas, thank God! Many directors don't have that courtesy."
It has been debated as to whether "Fargo" is actually based on a true story, as the opening sequence claims. The conventional wisdom is that the story was made up by the Coen brothers -- even the fine print of the movie reads "no resemblance to any persons living or dead."
But, according to Peter Stormare, much of the movie may have actually been based on people and events from the Coen brothers childhood. "It is based on true stories from their younger days growing up in the twin cities -- but they combined a lotta' stories and hearsays in to one film," said Stormare.
As an example, Stormare's character was based off two real people the Coen brothers knew and the villain's name is derived from their first and last names. As Stormare explained:
My character was built on two guys from their younger days. They took one's first name and the second one's second name. I was told that the character always smoked -- didn't say much at all, could even fall asleep with a cig in his mouth. Tried hard to fulfill all their requirements ... but I did throw up a few times -- especially in that famous bar-scene in the beginning. Geez -- I was soooo sick!
Talking with the Examiner in 2014, Peter Stormare explained how he wasn't as quiet as his character and Steve Buscemi wasn't as talkative. Stormare said:
Steve Buscemi, in between takes, becomes like a clam. It’s hard to get a word out of him. It’s very funny. I think that’s why they casted us in some way, because he’s actually not a big talker in between takes, but I am. I like to talk, and I like to talk to the crew and blah, blah, blah. He’s very quiet –- a quiet, little guy.
"[Buscemi] becomes very intro and I very outro" and that he feels like the two are a "good team," he said. Stormare hopes a filmmaker will put the two together again.
One of the most popular pieces of trivia about "Fargo" is that his symbol shows up sideways in the end credits, a wink at the fact that he supposedly played a dead victim. In fact, a storyboard artist for the movie, J. Todd Anderson, played that listed role, but people like to entertain the idea that Prince made his way into the movie.
Well, according to Stormare, he almost did:
Prince is from there and a friend of theirs -- this was during his battles with his record company and that sign was the only thing he was allowed to use. He wanted to do a smaller part -- I was told -- but it didn't work out. But just having his symbol there helped his image a little in his long battle getting out from a stupid record contract!
Maybe Prince will still show up in the the television series?
After we shot the "Killing of the Cop," Joel and Ethan wanted to take us all to the best pancake place in Twin Cities. It was a night shoot and I believe the pancake house would open early for us so we could end our night with a breakfast then hit the bed. I rode with Steve. He was driving -- not the best driver -- before GPS.
Okay! He misses the place with some blocks. He does an illegal U-turn ... goes back finds the street, doesn't see that it's one way. Early morning. No cars out -- dark.
He drives a bit when a cop car flashes behind us and sirens can be heard. "Shit." Steve doesn't know why they stop us. I see the pancake house and I step out of the car. Bull horn: "Remain in the car!" Slowly a female cop comes up to Steve. He rolls down the window. [The cop says,] "Are you aware that you're going in the wrong direction and that you did an illegal U-turn further back there, sir?"
Steve is Steve and he starts mumbling something. Then she says, "License and registration please?" Just as in the scene we just shot two hours ago. That's creepy ... of course Steve had a driver's license, but no registration -- it was a rental from the company. Then Steve starts telling the female cop that we are actor from outta' town and we're meeting up at the pancake house, etc., etc. She says, "That doesn't give you right to do illegal U-turns and drive against traffic, does it?"
I was silent -- thank God we didn't have a prop gun in the glove compartment!
To this day I don't know how Steve got away with no ticket. He continued to talk as if he was in the movie. Finally she walked away and we just looked at each other.
Stormare went on to say that at first the two thought that "the brothers" had played a prank on them, but it was for real. Apparently he and Buscemi stayed in the car for a while after that incident unable to move on from how bizarre the whole episode had been. "Today I'm not sure if it was all an illusion or if it happened for real," Stormare added.
It may be impossible to ever fully understand a Coen brothers movie, especially as the two are so cryptic and give very few interviews. But, for what it's worth, the movie's main villain offered a bit of insight into "Fargo":
One half of my character was in jail at the time -- and I think it's just the core of the movie -- we are symbols of good and evil in that car. Marge is a fantastic character. You must believe in that you can do good, to do good. Even in the last scene when her husband is pissed that he didn't get the best stamp she replies with a complete positive view how to see this world. That was the aim with that little scene in the cop car. Complete honesty and someone completely the opposite. We need people like Marge, people who can see light in all darkness.