Martin Freeman on joining Fargo: “It could have all gone very, very bad”

The British actor says he landed the part in the Minnesota-set drama without an audition – which meant his American accent was untested

Fargo creator Noah Hawley was so impressed with Martin Freeman that he signed him up for the quirky US crime drama without an audition – a big risk according to Freeman, given his untested American accent…


“I didn’t audition for Fargo. It was a straight offer. They didn’t even ask to hear the accent,” said Freeman.

“It could have all gone very, very bad… I was surprised that they didn’t want to hear it. ’Cause I could have had a cloth ear.”

As it turned out, Freeman won acclaim for his take on the very distinctive Minnesotan accent of anti-hero Lester Nygaard.

“Fortunately I’m not bad with accents, although I’ve never done that one before,” Freeman told The Telegraph. “He might have had to be English. Lester Nichols.”

Fargo came to an end on Channel 4 on Sunday night after a ten-part run that saw seemingly hapless insurance salesman Lester murder his nagging wife and become embroiled in increasingly more death and chaos following a meeting with Billy Bob Thornton’s enigmatic hitman Lorne Malvo.

The part was something of a departure for Freeman, who generally stays on the side of the law in his best known role, that of Dr John Watson opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock.


“Noah Hawley had seen something else I’d done and spotted that I wasn’t all sweetness and light,” Freeman said of his casting in Fargo. “That there was a bit of fire in the belly.”