UPROXX Interview: Allison Tolman On Last Night’s Wonderfully Tense Episode Of ‘Fargo’

Last night’s Fargo was aces. This whole season has been, actually, which is why we’re bummed there’s only one episode left. I expected Fargo to be very good, considering the movie it’s based on and the fact that it had the Coen Brothers’ blessing, but I didn’t expect it to be GREAT. Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, and Billy Bob Thornton have been predictably fantastic, but the real find of the show has been its heart: Molly Solverson, played to modest perfection by Allison Tolman. I recently had the chance to speak to Tolman about last night’s episode, what to expect in the season finale, and Molly <3 Gus fan art.

So how happy were you for your moment of catharsis?

It’s funny, I didn’t really recognize the significance of that scene until the morning that I went there to work on it, and I was looking over my lines and thought, “Oh my gosh, this is a really giant scene.” And it didn’t really occur to me as I was reading the script, I think because I was so used to, blah blah blah, and she talks to an authority figure and they don’t listen. But yeah, we got to set that day, and it was really fun. Actually Jordan [Peele] and Keegan[-Michael Key] felt the same way because they were up to date on what happened, and they knew the story of my character. They were so excited in that scene as actors. “We’re so glad we get to do this scene where she gets recognized,” which is awesome.

Do you feel like Molly is more obsessed with catching Lester or Malvo?

I think that Lester is sort of her fish to catch. He’s the obstacle that’s immediately in front of her, he’s the connection to what went on. She needs to crack him to get to the next part of the puzzle, which ultimately is to catch Malvo.

Is it hard being frustrated at Bob Odenkirk, who’s such a well-meaning doof on the show?

He’s very nice, and we got along quite well. He plays that character so well, and also with such glee. He makes it really fun because even in-between takes, he’s joking about what an infuriating man this is. I think people are going to be really pleased at how deep into this character we go in the final episode.

You’re such an expressive actress. I’m thinking of the scene at the end of episode seven, when you’re standing outside of the police station in the snowstorm after learning that the wrong Nygaard brother has been arrested. How much of that is written into the script?

I don’t feel like I got a lot of extra direction from what was on the page, which was basically, her world is reeling. She can’t quite get a hold of things and there are still some drugs in her system. But you can tell what the team is going for by how they set up shots, and with that shot, the camera movement was swooping in and kind of swirling around me, and they wanted me huffing out those doors at top speed. If you can read those cues, then you don’t have to do many takes, because you can tell exactly what it is they’re looking for. And what happens on my face is the natural byproduct of what kind of actress I am. Everything becomes really evident in my eyebrows, basically. *laughs*

Do you think Molly is upset that the FBI is stepping in? It’s been her case for so long, and for some other agency to stick their noses in…

It’s so funny you should say that, because it was hard for me when other characters came in and started shaping the ways things end, who gets got and everything. I finished the final script, and I was like, *exaggerated sigh*. It’s not fair! But I sat down with [creator] Noah [Hawley] about it, and he said, “You have to trust me,” and I was like, “OK…” And when I really thought about it, I know that Molly would not have any problems with it. I have a far larger ego than Molly does.

When you guys were done shooting, did you take any props home with you?

I didn’t, and I feel like now that I should have. I have the prop guy’s phone number, so I can always call him. I thought about taking my nameplate and my badge, and saying goodbye to my furry hat was really hard. But I ended up leaving it all there, where I felt like it belongs, and who knows, maybe we’ll get to do another chapter someday and they’ll need all that stuff.

Speaking of your nameplate: it took me way too long to realize Molly’s last name is SOLVERson. Get it? Because she, like, solves things.

Don’t feel bad. I loved it. I felt the same way about the name “Malvo,” which is such a malicious, malevolent, really nasty word. People have pointed out that when you do the ratings for our show, it says, “mature audiences, language, violence,” which is MA-L-V. If only we had a warning for “O.”

Admit it: you terrified of Martin Freeman once he got his haircut, weren’t you?

It’s interesting, I played so many scenes with Martin when he was still Nervous Martin that I kind of got used to that, and then in the final episode, I have an interrogation scene with him where he’s in the police station after his second wife is murdered, and it was actually unnerving for me to play the scene. The first time we did it, it took me aback. I had to remind myself that this is the new Lester that I kind of have to get used it. He’s so much more aggressive and I needed a second to recalibrate.

Did you know about the time jump all along?

No, I didn’t, actually. There were some clues as we got closer, because the crew knew before we did because they had to start planning for new costumes and stuff like that. But there were some clues, like when they told me I had to chop off my hair. So there were kind of rumors that something was going to happen. I thought it was so awesome.

It was so masterfully done, with the camera running away from Gus, although for a minute there, I thought something terrible was about to happen to him, though not as terrible as the creepy Molly/Gus fan art that I assume exists on Tumblr. Have you seen any?

I haven’t. I think we’re the type of ship, quote unquote, that inspires more “awwwww” than anything else. Most people just think that they’re adorable. I haven’t seen anything disturbing. If you look at other pairings, however, then sh*t gets real, real fast. But Molly and Gus, they’re just everyone’s boy and girl next door. They just want them to be happy.

Now I really want to search for Lester/Malvo artwork, but also really don’t want to.

Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. Y’know, I know my co-stars don’t do this sh*t, because they know better, but I’m so new to this that I’m still fascinated by what people are saying. I want to know what’s going on, and I want to know what the buzz is. I Google and Tumblr far more often than I should be.

Lastly, can you give a one-word teaser for the finale?

*she thinks for a moment* Oh, it’s so good!

I’ll write that as a single word when I’m transcribing [ed. note: oops].