Juno Temple has just learned about Jon Hamm’s “Fargo” stunt nipples, and she’s in awe. “A full, fake nipple?,” she asks, turning to her co-star at FX’s “Fargo” Season 5 premiere screening and panel on Nov. 15 at Nya Studios. There’s a lot to unpack with this season’s already critically acclaimed ‘Fargo’ installment, which dives into topics of ‘Minnesota Nice,’ crippling debt and so much more.
But first, let’s get what the people want to know out of the way: Hamm’s character has visibly pierced nipples as he enjoys his hot tub “in moist repose.” But turns out, it’s Hollywood magic.
“I had to have some very blue latex put on my nipples, and then they cast a resoundingly lifelike pair of nipples, which they then pierced and placed over my own nipples, and we shot said nipples,” Hamm shares on stage. “The crew doesn’t get enough credit, but there was a dedicated nippleologist.”
“Fargo” Season 5, which premieres Nov. 21 on FX at 10 p.m. ET (and the next day on Hulu), stars Temple as Dorothy “Dot” Lyon, a Minnesota housewife whose dark secrets are about to be revealed — now that ruthless North Dakota sheriff Roy Tillman (Hamm) has found her. Roy is a rancher, preacher and constitutional lawman who believes that only he is above the law.
And so, why wouldn’t a violent rural official with a badge and a gun also sport a few nipple rings? “We all live in ‘Tiger King’ America,” quips “Fargo” showrunner/writer/director/exec producer Noah Hawley.
Dot is at the center of this season’s “Fargo,” set in 2019. And from the very first episode, viewers will see that she’s not someone to mess with. “She’s a survivalist and has got a past that she’s kept back in the past,” Temple says. “And as we see throughout this season, it begins to catch up with her. It’s a past where a lot of people want things from her, and they don’t ask what she wants. And so, she will fight against it to the bitter end to protect the thing that is the most important to her, which is her family.”
That includes also going toe-to-toe with her mother-in-law, Lorraine, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Lorraine is a powerful businesswoman who made her fortune as the “Queen of Debt,” gathering her riches from others’ misfortunes. As Lorraine, Leigh gets some of the season’s best lines.
“Noah’s dialogue is so delicious,” Leigh says. “It’s so funny. I can’t believe what I got to say in this. I wish I had even a quarter of Lorraine’s brain. She’s so brilliant and she can assess people. She’s never intimidated. She owns every room she walks into. She’s very pleased with herself.”
The idea of debt fuels a lot of this season’s storylines and action. “This year I really did want to look at debt,” Hawley says. “Something like two thirds of Americans carry a not insignificant amount of debt, but nobody ever talks about it. And there’s shame to it, there’s morality to it. There’s also something very Coen-esque about this idea that if you have a student loan and it takes you 20 years to pay back, if you pay it back, you’re a good person. And if you don’t pay it back, you’re a bad person, but you’re not going to know for 20 years. So, for those 20 years, you’re both a good person and a bad person. There’s a duality to it that I find really interesting.
“There’s also the debts, the promises we make to each other,” he adds. “What does a wife owe to a husband who was abusive? What does a son owe to a mother who was domineering? What are these obligations between us? And I think we explored them pretty well.”
Hawley also opens this season by defining “Minnesota Nice” to viewers, something that he says was rooted at the very core of “Fargo,” from the moment that Joel and Ethan Coen first made the original film. “This idea that in polite society, people don’t know how to bend,” he says. “They just break because they’re putting it all down and putting on this brave face. And of course, they become these passive aggressive people. But I look around and I don’t see a lot of passive aggression anymore. I see a of aggressive aggression. So, the question really becomes, what happens to the basically decent people that we tell stories about all the time, to put them into this situation where their neighbors are now turning on each other?”
As for the 2019 timeframe — making it the most recent of all “Fargo” installments — Hawley has a simple explanation. “I wanted to do a contemporary story and it was the latest I could go and not get into COVID, which I think is a different story entirely,” he says. “And we were still in that last presidency. Once we meet Jon’s character, we see some frightening parallels.”
Hamm, who has become close to Hawley in recent years (the two also worked together on “Legion” and “Lucy in the Sky”), was drawn to the combination of visceral violence and absurd humor on “Fargo.” “He works in law enforcement and has a very different view of what enforcing the law means and what the law means,” Hamm says of his character. “It all sort of runs through him and is very assured in his righteousness. And like a lot of people who are very assured in their righteousness, they sometimes are misguided.”
Hawley says the character comes out of the moral curve of “Fargo,” which is based on selfishness versus selflessness. “Jon’s [character is] really only interested in justice for himself and the people that he’s rooted in. The more selfish you are, there’s always a moment in the show Fargo where the worst person in the show says, ‘I’m the victim here!’”
Besides Temple, Leigh and Hamm, Season 5 includes Joe Kerry, Sam Spruell, David Rysdahl, Richa Moorjani, Lamorne Morris and Dave Foley (whose character’s name, “Danish Graves,” is Hawley’s favorite of the season). Exec producer Warren Littlefield credits casting director Rachel Tenner for continuing to find standout names for the series.
“Every actor that becomes a part of ‘Fargo’ has the ability to give you something dramatically real and powerful with real authenticity, but they also have to be nimble enough to do the comedy because we play in both,” Littlefield says. “Of course, the material has to prove itself each and every year, but people are fighting to be in Fargo.”
And they’re doing their homework. Just ask Temple, who spent months perfecting her Minnesota accent.
“I would practice it in airports,” she says. “Sometimes my fiancé would hear me do it in grocery stores. And then the more you do it, the more fun you have with it. It also really helped with Dot for me, a rhythm of this Minnesota nice, which has a kind of true sweetness to it that even when what we just watched to some of these crazy moments. She still has this sweetness to her, always.”