It has been a quarter of a century since Joel and Ethan Coen introduced audiences to the wild and crazy world (and characters) of their 1996 dark comedy Fargo. In that stretch of time, the movie has become a modern classic, spawned a successful anthology series on FX, and helped take the careers of its colorful cast of characters — led by Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi — to the heights of their respective careers in film, on television, and beyond.
But, a long time has passed since we’ve first met the cast all those years ago (the movie can officially rent a car at this point), so now seems like the perfect time to take a break and look back on what the Fargo cast has been up to as of late...
Frances McDormand (Marge Gunderson)
Fargo is one of the best Frances McDormand movies, and turned the actress into a sensation and Academy Award winner following her iconic portrayal of the nice but no-nonsense Brainerd police chief, Marge Gunderson. Since taking on the role of the seven-months pregnant police officer with a knack for solving crimes and postage stamp painting, McDormand has gone on to win two more Oscars, one for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in 2018 and another for Nomadland in 2021 (she also took home Golden Globes for each of those performances).
One of the best actresses of her time, McDormand continues to find success whether she’s appearing in her husband Joel Coen’s movies, like The Tragedy of Macbeth, working with Wes Anderson in the likes of The French Dispatch, or with just about anyone else. McDormand is set to star in Sarah Polley’s upcoming drama Women Talking, per Variety.
William H. Macy (Jerry Lundegaard)
William H. Macy’s portrayal of Jerry Lundegaard, the desperate and short-sighted car dealer who hires a pair of crooks to kidnap his wife, will forever go down as one of the Primetime Emmy Award-winning actor's best performances.
In the years since appearing in Fargo, Macy has found success with roles in everything from Boogie Nights to Bobby, with dozens of memorable performances before and since. From 2011 to 2021, Macy portrayed Frank Gallagher on Shameless, the down-on-his-luck and substance-abusing patriarch of the Showtime series’ central family, which earned him multiple Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe nominations throughout the show’s impressive 11-season run.
Steve Buscemi (Carl Showalter)
Things didn’t shake out all too well for Steve Buscemi’s Fargo character, Carl Showalter, but the same can't be said about the actor and the state of his insanely successful and fruitful career over the past 25 years.
From 2010 to 2014, Buscemi portrayed Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, the corrupt, powerful, and dangerous Atlantic County official at the center of Boardwalk Empire, a performance that earned him a Golden Globe and four Screen Actors Guild Awards during the show’s run on HBO. More recently, Buscemi has appeared on comedy series like Miracle Workers and Rick and Morty, as well as a list of movies that includes The King of Staten Island, Hubie Halloween, and the soon-to-be-released Hotel Transylvania: Transformania.
Peter Stormare (Gaear Grimsrud)
Peter Stormare’s portrayal of the silent but deadly killer, Gaear Grimsrud, in Fargo adds a much-needed layer of danger and darkness to the offbeat nature of the Coen Brothers movie.
In 1998, Stormare and his Fargo co-star Steve Buscemi appeared in the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski. Over the course of the past few decades, there have been multiple years in which Stormare has appeared in more than five movies (he appeared in 10 in 2013 alone), though he has slowed down just a little bit more recently. In 2020, he appeared in the pandemic thriller Songbird, which he followed up with two animated films in 2021 — Gift of Fire and Cryptozoo. He currently co-hosts the docuseries Secrets of the Viking Stone.
Harve Presnell (Wade Gustafson)
Wade Gustafson, Jerry Lundegaard’s father-in-law who gets caught up in the ill-fated kidnapping and ransom plan, was portrayed by Harve Presnell. The veteran character actor, who appeared on shows like Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Dawson’s Creek, as well as in movies like Saving Private Ryan and Mr. Deeds, passed away at the age of 75 in July 2009 following a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to the New York Times.
Kristin Rudrüd (Jean Lundegaard)
Kristin Rudrüd shows up in Fargo as Jean Lundegaard, the unsuspecting wife of Jerry Lundegaard at the center of the dark comedy’s doomed-from-the-start kidnapping and get-rich-quick scheme. Born and raised in the actual Fargo, North Dakota, Rudrüd appeared in a few more movies in the late 1990s and early 2000s before stepping away from acting. This includes Pleasantville, Drop Dead Gorgeous, and Herman U.S.A.
Tony Denman (Scotty Lundegaard)
Tony Denman shows up in the Fargo cast as Scotty Lundegaard, the only son of Jerry and Kristin Lundegaard, whose demeanor (and life) forever changes upon his mother’s kidnapping and murder.
In the years since Fargo was released into the wild, Denman has appeared in a number of movies including National Lampoon’s Barely Legal, Transylmania, and, more recently, For the Love of Jessee. Denman has also popped up on numerous TV shows over the years, including King of the Hill, My Crazy Ex, and The 33rd: Sci-Fi Anthology in 2018. Denman is part of a comedy duo by the name of As a Matter of Fact.
Steve Reevis (Shep Proudfoot)
Taking on the role of Shep Proudfoot, the man who convinced Jerry Lundegaard to hire the men to kidnap his wife for the ransom money in Fargo, is Steve Reevis. Leading up to his appearance in the Coen Brothers dark comedy, Reevis had roles in movies like Twins, Dances with Wolves, and The Doors, and later went on to show up in The Missing, The Longest Yard, and Fishing Naked, his final film appearances. There were a number of TV shows to feature Reevis over the years, including Walker, Texas Ranger, Malcolm in the Middle, and Bones. Unfortunately, Reevis passed away at the age of 55 in December 2017, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Larry Brandenburg (Stan Grossman)
Larry Brandenburg shows up in Fargo as Stan Grossman, Wade Gustafson’s accountant who informs Jerry Lundegaard of his client’s decision to handle matters himself. Prior to the release of Fargo, Brandenburg landed small roles in movies like Field of Dreams and The Shawshank Redemption, as well as shows like Quantum Leap and Cheers.
In the years following the film’s release, Brandenburg landed roles in some of the most popular shows of the early 21st Century including Monk, Grey’s Anatomy, and NCIS. Brandenburg’s final appearances came in the movie Last Harbor, and an episode of the successful animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, both of which were released in 2010.
John Carroll Lynch (Norm Gunderson)
In one of his early film appearances, John Carroll Lynch shows up in Fargo as Marge Gunderson’s husband Norm. Prior to working with the Coen Brothers in the duo’s dark comedy, Lynch had small roles in Grumpy Old Men and Beautiful Girls, with his film career taking off immediately after.
Over the years, Lynch has had a rather balanced career with action spectacles like Volcano and Gone in 60 Seconds, right up there with thrillers like Zodiac (he played the prime suspect in the titular case) and Shutter Island. In 2020, Lynch portrayed David Dellinger in Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7.
It should also be pointed out that Lynch has had a successful career on the small screen, as well, with major roles in various entries in the American Horror Story franchise, Big Sky, and Veep, on top of dozens of other smaller roles dating back to a 1996 episode of Frasier.
Stephen Park (Mike Yanagita)
Mike Yanagita, Marge Gunderson’s high school friend who makes a dinner scene all the more awkward and uncomfortable in Fargo is portrayed by comedian and actor Stephen Park. Prior to landing the small, yet memorable, role in the 1996 dark comedy, Park made a name for himself with appearances in movies like Do the Right Thing, Kindergarten Cop, and Falling Down, as well as shows like In Living Color, Martin, and Friends.
Since completing his duties in Fargo, Park has been in everything from A Serious Man to Snowpiercer, and The Gambler to The French Dispatch. Park’s recent television appearances include Warrior and Infinity Train. And, just like so many other big-name actors and actresses, Stephen Park will take on an unspecified role in Wes Anderson's upcoming (and mysterious) movie Asteroid City.
With electric and unforgettable performances from Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and the rest of the Fargo cast, it's easy to see why the 1996 Coen Brothers dark comedy remains such a treat for movie lovers of all ages. If this trip down memory lane has piqued your interest, check out the assortment of Fargo behind the scenes facts we gathered from the making of the movie. If you want to know more about everything coming out in theaters and on streaming services, check out CinemaBlend's 2021 movies schedule.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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