Oliver Platt has made a career out of playing bold and brash characters who don’t seem to shy away from the hard job or the caustic remark. But the Golden Globe nominated actor admitted during a recent conference call interview that he had a bit of trepidation before signing on to play the Supermarket King Stavros Milos on the small screen adaptation of “Fargo.” But after getting a look at Noah Hawley’s interpretation of the Cohen Brothers’ classic, he gladly signed on to the show.
As he recounted, “The stuff that I was shown, the story that I was told, the fact that Joel and Ethan [Coen] had blessed it was not insignificant. I have to say, I think that Noah’s done a pretty remarkable job of sort of threading that needle of writing in their tone. But he had his own voice, if you will. And, to me, it’s pretty impressive stuff.”
The “X-Men: First Class” star went on to explain what drew him to the character of Milos, saying, “Just such a muscular arc, you know? One of the first things you’re looking at is, where does the guy start and where does he end and how do they get him there? That’s what we yearn for as actors, is that sort of distance to travel, and Noah laid that out in spades. It was a story that took this guy and took everything that he believed in and turned it on its head.”
While Milos appears to be a powerful man in his only tiny pond, the character is clearly flawed. “He built this extraordinary supermarket empire, and he’s been very, very focused on the externals,” Platt acknowledged. “You get the sense that Malvo… just has a nose for that kind of thing. He’s all about how everything’s looking. Obviously he doesn’t really feel he deserves it… which is why he’s so focused on the theatricality of it all. I think that that’s where we are when Billy Bob [Thornton’s character Lorne Malvo] shows up.”
Platt, who is relishing the role of a powerful man, literally being plagued the malicious Malvo, spoke about dealing with the onslaught of attacks of blood baths, locusts and the like, saying, “Not knowing why his head has been so successfully messed with, so artfully screwed with, it’s just a delicious sort of menu of obstacles for an actor. Is it God? Is it my ex—who could possibly be doing or orchestrating these things? On top of that, the way his medication has been messed with so that the way he’s perceiving it is, orchestration actually isn’t a bad word to describe the whammy that Billy Bob put on me.”
The dance between Malvo and Milos just one of the elements that makes “Fargo” a worthy spin-off of the Coen Brothers near-perfect feature film. Where the movie told a tight and twisty story with rich and ridiculous characters, the show kicks it up notch, after notch, after notch not just every week but every 15 minutes. It’s no wonder that the show is attracting audiences beyond devotees of the original film.
Platt gave his opinion as to why the show has become a fan favorite, “It’s a combination of the storytelling and the style. There’s something so compelling about exploring the menace and the loneliness beneath that culture; the people that ostensibly are incredibly polite, button down way, the way that people relate to each other on a superficial level. I think that there’s a fascination to that, and then the fact that if good writing is compelling sequences of events then Noah’s really got that nailed.”
Tune in to “Fargo” every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. Central on FX.