How Allison Tolman Went From A Temp Job To Fargo's Lead

Fargo made a splash when it hit FX’s schedule this past spring. The show had landed big names when it signed on Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk and Colin Hanks, but when it came to the female police officer lead, the casting process wasn’t so easy. Eventually relative newcomer Allison Tolman landed the role, jumping from relative obscurity to a high profile cable series. Here’s how it happened.

Fargo is headed on to Blu-ray and DVD today, and in an extra available with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s set, Tolman and members of the crew speak out to explain just how the Chicago-based actress landed the gig. Casting director Rachel Tenner says finding Molly was the biggest task that casting had to face.

“The only role we tested was Molly. We saw hundreds of girls trying to do Fargo accents. It’s a lot to listen to… Alison felt so organic to this role. She founds moments of humor and compassion where nobody else was.“

It worked out for Tolman, who was working a temp job for $11 an hour and then rushing around in the afternoons hoping to find other, full-time work. She mentions that her Chicago base didn’t allow her to really see TV shows as an opportunity that could actually work out for her, but once she landed the gig on Fargo, everything changed for the actress nearly immediately.

In Fargo’s first season, Tolman ends up playing Molly, a regular, down-home young woman who is looking to find a life partner, but who also has a knack for police work. She spends much of the series looking into the creepy and off-putting Lester Nygaard (Freeman) as well as a hitman known as Lorne Malvo (Thornton) while the other incompetent members of her department go about their business as if nothing is wrong.

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Tolman in the role. She knocks that northern Fargo accent out of the park, and she seems like the sort of person who would still be a good detective while working in a small town that doesn’t see much intense crime. She fits the bill for the role, and now it’s hard to imagine her making 11 bucks an hour at a job that is not creatively fulfilling.

Fargo’s second season will be set in 1979, reportedly following a story about Molly’s parents and especially her father, Lou, after he returns from the Viertnam War. This means there will be brand new actors cast for the roles. It also means Tolman will not be returning to the second season of FX’s hit series, which is expected to go into production in January. On the bright side, Tolman already has gigs lined up on Archer and in the upcoming flick, Fresno.

You can check out the rest of the casting video, courtesy of THR, if you head over to the next page.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.