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‘Fargo’: Mary Elizabeth Winstead on Nikki Swango, ‘The Big Lebowski,’ and the Bowling Alley Scene

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SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “Who Rules the Land of Denial?,” the June 7 episode of “Fargo.”

When Wednesday night’s episode of “Fargo” begins, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Nikki Swango has already been beaten severely by two mob thugs and knocked unconscious in a prison bus accident. By the end of the second act, she wandered bleeding through the Minnesota snow, a crossbow wound in her leg, into a bowling alley, where she sits down and orders a double whiskey. The scene is reminiscent of a particular classic Coen Brothers movie. It is also a critical moment for Swango, whose fortune appears to finally change after being on a steady downward trend.

Winstead spoke with Variety about the bowling-alley scene, the movie that inspired it, and how her character has defied her expectations.

How much did you know about Nikki before you signed on to do the show?
Literally nothing. I had talked with Noah [Hawley, creator and executive producer] about the third season. We had talked about the first two seasons as well. Nothing ever materialized or worked out. We were always saying that we wanted to work together. He called and asked if I was available for Season 3. I had just finished working on something, and I was like, “Yes. Whatever it is, yes.” I didn’t really care what the role was. At that point I had seen both seasons and was so in awe of what he was doing that I just really wanted to be a part of it. By the time I got the script, I was already doing the show, but I hadn’t been told anything about the role. So once I read it, I was floored by this character, and really surprised by her, because I wasn’t expecting to play someone like that.

What was it that surprised you about her?
I guess I thought I’d be playing a really nice Minnesota cop or a really sweet Minnesota housewife. I didn’t expect to be playing this brash, sexy, confident, bold fighter of a woman. She’s just so much woman. I guess I hadn’t really seen myself that way before doing this. It’s definitely brought me a whole new level of confidence now that I’ve played her. But going into it I thought, “Am I the person for this? I don’t know if I’m enough woman for Nikki Swango.”

Mary Elizabeth Winstead.jpg

But you still got to do an accent.
She’s from Chicago, so I got to do sort of a Midwestern accent — still in the same world, but a slightly different version of it. It feels like Minnesota, but Nikki Swango’s version … (read more)

via Variety

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