These days, when he isn't appearing in Edgar Wright's latest film, Martin Freeman is portraying some pretty classic literary characters, between Dr. John Watson for Sherlock on the small screen, and Bilbo Baggins for The Hobbit on the big screen. Freeman may have found his next great role, and while it's for an adaptation, it's not a literary character. Word is that the Office star has signed on to star in FX's Fargo reboot, playing the role inspired by William H. Macy's character in the 1996 film.
Based on THR's report, it sounds like like guy may have some characteristics of Macy's character, but the role and the story are different.. If your memory of the film is rusty, Macy played Jerry Lundegaard, a car salesman who pays a couple of guys to kidnap his wife in an attempt to scam money out of his disapproving father-in-law. According to THR, Freeman's character is named Lester, and he's described as "an insurance salesman who has seen better days. Henpecked by his wife, his life is changed forever when a mysterious stranger comes to town."
So there's no car salesman, his name is Lester and he's henpecked by his wife. Not exactly how I'd described Jerry Lundegaard, nor does the "mysterious stranger comes to town" part really apply. But they do live in Minnesota, right? Is that part staying the same? It is. The 10-episode limited series is described as "an all-new 'true crime' story with a new case and characters, all seeped in the humor, murder and 'Minnesota nice' of the original."
So it sounds less of an adaptation of Joel and Ethan Coen's film as it is inspired by it, with the same snowy backdrop. And if we're looking at this optimistically, a new case and set of characters means a new story, so we won't be watching this one expecting it to play out a certain way. And maybe things will work out a bit better for Lester than they did for Jerry, who sort of got what he had coming to him in the movie. My Generation's Noah Hawley is set to write the script and executive produce the project.
In addition to Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton is set to star as well, playing "the rootless, manipulative man who meets the small-town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction."
As intriguing as Thornton's character is, what with the mystery surrounding him and all, I'm particularly excited to see how Freeman tackles Lester. Jerry Lundegaard was such a great role for Macy, and I think the same could be said about Lester for Freeman, especially given the potential for dark twists with the character and the story. I also love that this is being described as a "limited series," as that means we should expect the plot to wrap up within the span of the ten episodes, after which the series will end or else, maybe there's a chance it'll be renewed for another story, much in the way FX's American Horror Story does. There's definite potential there.
Here's one of my favorite Jerry Lundegaard moments: