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'Fargo': Interview with Allison Tolman on getting her big break

While you may recognize many of the stellar cast members of FX's critical smash, "Fargo," you probably don't recognize Allison Tolman, who plays officer Molly Solverson. Tolman sat down Wednesday in a media conference call to talk about the show and the role that has proven to be her big break in acting, revealing she was working as a the post-production manager in a pinup photography studio when she got the call.

Allison Tolman plays officer Molly Solverson on FX's "Fargo."
Photo used courtesy of FX/ Matthias Clamer

Diana Price: I was wondering, when you did get the call and get offered the role, what went through your head to be able to work with such an amazing cast for your first big role on TV?

Allison Tolman: Yes, certainly it was overwhelming, and I think that when I first got the call I was probably in shock. Noah Hawley made the call and told me that I had the role. And the way he tells it I said, “Thank you” very politely, and then I had to get off the phone because I had to go back to work. So, I know inside I was definitely freaking out and losing my mind, but he said I was very calm and composed at the time. So, yes, it was intimidating, but luckily once I got there everyone was so kind and patient and welcoming I didn’t have a lot to worry about.

DP: So, I guess you were a good actress on the phone as well.

AT: I guess so. I fooled him.

DP: Even though the show has different characters than the film, playing a female officer in the "Fargo" TV series, were you kind of afraid of being compared to Frances McDormand?

AT: Certainly that fear was there. And I knew going in that these characters were really different and that the character of “Molly” was really strong in her own right. But it was definitely a concern of mine, and especially as a newcomer, you know, you don’t come out the gate as a singer and try to compare with Judy Garland. So, it was scary for me to come into this role, I knew people associated with her, the comparisons were nerve-wracking. But I think that we’ve proven in the past few episodes and since we’ve started that these characters are different enough that people can draw parallels between them, but they don’t have to be pitted against each other. So, I feel a little bit of that pressure has been taken off.

DP: Well, you’re more than holding your own, but one last question. Do you think that the fact that besides doing the pinup photography studio job, you’ve also done things like phone sales and been a dog walker -- do you think the fact that you’re not some mega millionaire actress has helped keep you grounded in the role?

AT: I think that’s not a terrible stretch. That’s probably true. And I think that probably would be true for any actor in any role. If you only live in the world of the actor and if you only live in the world of auditions, etc., then you don’t really have a whole lot to offer when it comes to playing the humans that you’re trying to audition for. So, for me it’s served me really well to have this varied background and all these different things that I’ve done. And I hope that that continues to serve me well in my career.

"Fargo" is a limited run series that airs on FX Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET.

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