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Chris Rock addresses humor in 'Fargo' violence

Chris Rock plays Loy Cannon in the new season of  Fargo, coming to FX on Sunday. Photo courtesy of FX Networks
Chris Rock plays Loy Cannon in the new season of  "Fargo," coming to FX on Sunday. Photo courtesy of FX Networks

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Every season, FX's Fargo portrays violent murders in the Midwest with a side of humor -- much like the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers film upon which it's based.

Season 4 takes place in 1950 in Kansas City, Mo., and follows Loy Cannon (Chris Rock), who turns to organized crime when White-owned banks reject his legitimate business proposals.

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Best known as a stand-up comedian and star of comedy movies, Rock said Fargo producer Warren Littlefield has offered him dramatic roles for years. Loy appealed to Rock because he is also in his 50s; Rock is 55.

"Everything that's offered to me, it's like a man-boy" role, Rock said on a recent Television Critics Association panel. "It was great to actually play a grown-ass man."

Regarding his transition from comedy to a more dramatic role, Rock said he has to play comedy dramatically for it to work, so Fargo isn't that different."I don't really like the term 'serious acting,'" Rock said. "Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber is acting funny, very seriously."

As for the humor in Fargo, Rock likens it to Goodfellas. Martin Scorsese's gangster movie is full of serious violence but finds humor in macabre situations.

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Rock says no character in Fargo is trying to provide the comic relief.

"The comedy is earned," Rock said. "Life's funny if you stick with it long enough."

'A flirt in the air'

His character's family, the Cannons, clash with the Fadda crime family in Kansas City. Jessie Buckley portrays Oraetta Mayflower, a nurse who treats Donatello Fadda (Tomasso Ragno) when he is shot.

Buckley described the fourth season as "flirty," thanks in part to societal shifts of the post-World War II era.

"There's an opportunity and a flirt in the air in this world that we've created," Buckley told UPI in a Zoom interview. "It's just after the war, so people are being opportunistic and flirty about who they are in this new world."

The opportunity Oraetta finds as a nurse is morbid. She commits mercy killings of patients in the hospital, but Buckley says her character sees it as an empowering position.

"In her mind, she's been given a gift to carry people into their next life," Buckley said. "She's always looking for the next person who will be offered to her."

When she meets the Fadda family, Oraetta seizes the opportunity to become involved with their crime. Buckley says mob killings give Oraetta another fix.

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"She's a death junkie," Buckley said. "She's always looking for the next hit."

Oraetta begins a relationship with Donatello's son, Justo (Jason Schwartzman), who is running the family while his father is incapacitated. Buckley said Oraetta was just as attracted to taking lives as she was to saving them.

"She just lives on the knife's edge of life and death," Buckley said. "She's drawn either side of that."

Buckley considers that Oraetta might have genuine romantic feelings for Justo. However, Oraetta also could use sex to manipulate Justo.

"It could be both, depending on what side of the bed she wakes up on," Buckley said.

Permission to exaggerate

Detective Odis Weff (Jack Huston) enters the story when he investigates the scene of a Fadda family hit against a hospital that turned Dontatello away. Huston says Weff exhibits undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder, which bothers other characters when he's working sobering crime scenes.

"One character asks, 'Have you got Satan in your heart?'" Huston told UPI in a separate interview. "Other officers call him Twitch [or] Twitchy."

Huston says his instinct was to play Odis' obsessive compulsions with more subtlety. Fargo series creator Noah Hawley encouraged him to be more extreme.

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"It's the only time as an actor where you feel like you're given permission to really exaggerate," Huston said. "One of the oldest things when you first come into this job is try not to overact. In this case, you're almost breaking the rules."

Fargo premieres Sunday on FX. Episodes stream the following day on Hulu.

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