Fargo is a 1996 British-American crime movie written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Frances McDormand stars as a pregnant Minnesota police chief investigating roadside homicides that ensue after a desperate car salesman, played by William H. Macy, hired two criminals, played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, to kidnap his wife in order to extort a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law, played by Harve Presnell. Take a look below for 30 more fun and interesting facts about Fargo.
1. Fargo premiered at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, where Joel Coen won the festival’s Prix de la mise en scene, or Best Director Award, and the movie was nominated for the Palme d’Or.
2. Fargo received 7 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Frances McDormand received the Best Actress Oscar, and the Coen brothers won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
3. The movie was selected in 2006 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It’s one of only six movies designated in its first year of eligibility.
4. In 1998, the American Film Institute named Fargo one of the 100 greatest American movies in history.
5. Joel Coen had Frances McDormand and John Carroll Lynch conceive a back-story for their characters to get the feel of them. They decided that Norm and Marge met while working on the police force, and when they were married, they had to choose which one had to quit. Since Marge was a better officer, Norm quit and took up painting.
6. The role of Carl Showalter was written specifically for Steve Buscemi.
7. Gaear Grimsrud, played by Peter Stormare, has 18 lines of dialogue in the entire movie and never says more than a complete sentence at one time. By comparison, Carl Showalter, played by Steve Buscemi, has over 150 lines of dialogue.
8. William H. Macy stated in an interview that, despite evidence to the contrary, he did hardly any ad-libbing at all. Most of his character’s stuttering mannerisms were written in the script exactly the way he does them in the movie.
9. The actors used a book called “How to Talk Minnesotan” to help with their accents.
10. Filming took place in the winter of 1995, when the region was experiencing its second warmest winter in 100 years. Filming of outdoor scenes had to be moved all over Minnesota, North Dakota and Canada, and most of the snow was artificial.
11. The snow plow that drives past the motel at the end of the movie wasn’t part of the script. Signs in the area warned motorists not to drive through due to filming, but a state employee ignored them.
12. When working on her Minnesota accent for the movie, Frances McDormand worked with Larissa Kokernot, or “Hooker #1.” McDormand referred to her accent and mannerisms as “Minnesota Nice.”
13. While first screening the movie, Gene Siskel leaned over to fellow critic and co-host Roger Ebert and said with a smile, “this is why we love movies.” Siskel and Ebert went on to name Fargo the best movie of 1996.
14. The Coen brothers have described Minnesota as, “Siberia with family restaurants.”
15. The movie is called Fargo because the Coen brothers thought it was a better title than Brainerd.
16. Frances McDormand wore a “pregnancy pillow” filled with birdseed to simulate her pregnant belly. She says that she didn’t deliberately try to move in a “pregnant” way, it simply came as a natural response to keeping the extra weight balanced.
17. Frances McDormand, looking around for a role as a killer or prostitute, was hesitant to play a pregnant cop. She said, “When I started working on it I realized it was one of the best gifts that I’ve ever been given.”
18. The wood chipper used in the movie is now on display at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center.
19. Frances McDormand accidentally left her pregnancy suit in her trailer one night. The silicone breasts in the suit froze, and one of them exploded the next day on set.
20. The scene where the couple tries to make a deal with Jerry is based on Ethan Coen’s real life encounter with a car salesman.
21. William H. Macy was doodling between takes and the Coen brothers decided to use it for a scene.
22. The duck paintings briefly shown in the Gunderson home painted by, “those Hautmanns,” who are close friends of the Coen brothers. These three brothers frequently win federal and state wildlife stamp competitions.
23. Approaching Brainerd from the south, you see a statue of Paul Bunyan with a sign reading “Welcome to Brainerd.” In reality, Brainerd has no such statue. Paul Bunyan Amusement Park, located just outside Brainerd, had a huge statue of Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. The park is now at “This Old Farm,” between Brainerd and Garrison.
24. None of the movie scenes, either exterior or interior, were actually filmed in Fargo. The bar exterior shown at the beginning of the movie is located in Northeast Minneapolis.
25. There’s only one scene shot on a bright and sunny day. Cinematographer Roger Deakins hated that it was sunny, feeling that it went against the movie’s mood.
26. Richard Jenkins was heavily considered for a role, but ended up losing it to William H. Macy.
27. William H. Macy came up with the idea to have Jerry rehearse what he’s going to say on the phone to Wade, played by Harve Presnell.
28. Frances McDormand worked with a pregnant cop from St. Paul to research the role.
29. In his book “Stand for Something: The Battle for America’s Soul,” Ohio governor John Kasich spends three pages describing his hatred for Fargo.
30. According to the DVD special features, Peter Stormare, who is from Sweden, spent his off days visiting nearby cities with Swedish names.