In March, a handful of journalists and I were invited up to Calgary, Alberta to visit the set of Fargo Year 3 where we were able to chat with the main cast and the show’s producers. One of the most fascinating elements we learned about was Season 3’s theme, which focuses on interactions specifically relating to particles that don’t interact, and therefore, don’t exist. Gloria Burgle, played by the exceptional Carrie Coon, feels at times like she’s not really there. Set Decorator Darlene Lewis explained it as: “Automatic doors don’t work for her, dryers don’t work, she can’t get automatic soap dispensers to work. ‘Do you see me here? I exist! I’m here!’ She’s a particle that’s not quite connecting all the time.”
What’s interesting though is that Gloria ends up being a particle that connects this crime story together in a way nobody notices — at first. Speaking to that sense of alienation, executive producer Warren Littlefield also told us that, “we’re surrounded by technology and devices that are supposed to create communication and community, and in fact, perhaps they don’t. So that’s another overlay, and that very much gets embodied in Gloria’s character.”
Coon spoke with us about Gloria, who is this season’s staid police presence (played by Alison Tolman in Season 1 and Patrick Wilson in Season 2), although when comparing the seasons’ female leads, “Gloria doesn’t have Peggy’s baggage and is a little edgier than Molly,” (says producer Kim Todd). It’s also not insignificant to note that Gloria’s police station is located inside of the town’s library, where a children’s reading area is adjacent to what becomes a murder investigation. Gloria is a woman caught between two worlds, and Coon talked in-depth about that, as well as some practical things like surviving those freezing Canadian winters:
QUESTION: Where is Gloria when we meet her to start the season?
CARRIE COON: She’s fresh off a divorce, she’s got a 12 year old son, and she’s negotiating what it means to be a single mom, and also facing potential demotion in her job. Her small police department is being absorbed by the county and she’s been the chief, but now she’s maybe not the chief anymore, which is kinda getting sorted who we meet her. And her husband has left her, and she’s going to have to put herself back out there in the world, but the world has changed. So, where we find Gloria is she’s in a community but it’s changing around her so quickly. She’s surrounded by all of this technology, and community doesn’t operate the same way it used to. She’s feeling more disconnected than ever, where everyone else seems to be relishing this new form or connection, which is through the cell phone network, and she doesn’t understand.
Since media plays such a big role this season, can you talk about how Gloria’s relationship with it?
COON: One of the brilliant things Noah [Hawley] has done is he’s put cell phones in everyone’s hands around her, so you’re surrounded by these really bright cell phones everywhere Gloria goes. And there are many moments in the series that she notices everyone is looking down, and no one is communicating with her anymore. And I have to say, I relate very strongly to this, having been a real hold out when it comes to cell phones. […] I can relate to how alienating this technology can be, and the erosion of community happening as a result. It’s a small town, and she likes living in a small town, but she’s feeling invisible.
What are some of the challenges of shooting in such a cold climate?
COON: On occasion your lips will go numb which makes speaking very challenging, but I so much prefer it to the heat. We shot The Leftovers in Austin for one and a half seasons, and it was 115 degrees down there. And to me that’s so much harder on your brain than being cold. Cold I can handle, because you can always put more body warmers on, another layer of silks, another coat. It’s the crew here that I feel bad for, because all of the men’s beards have icicles hanging off of them, I mean it’s that kind of cold!