'Fargo' television series will be like blood on snow

Executive producer Warren Littlefield points to cast member Billy Bob Thornton with executive...

Executive producer Warren Littlefield points to cast member Billy Bob Thornton with executive producer Noah Hawley looking on as they participate in a panel discussion of "Fargo" during FX Networks' part of the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter 2014 presentations in Pasadena, California, January 14, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:15 AM ET

PASADENA, Calif. - Blood on snow.

Did you just get a bit of a chill?

That's what Billy Bob Thornton is counting on with the new series Fargo, an adaptation of the Academy Award-winning film, which currently is shooting in Calgary.

"When I get asked why people are interested in these types of stories in that setting, well, most of us in the United States live (on the coasts or in the south),” Thornton explained. “That area (in the middle of the United States) is where a lot of us never go. The northern United States, in a lot of ways, is southern Canada, more so.

“And so for us, it's a nice thing to peek through that window, because it seems so foreign to us. And also having such a white-bread culture, where they kind of keep it close to the vest, it's jarring to have this sort of danger and weirdness and trouble in that setting.

“And also the snow, being the symbolic, sort of like, idyllic ... it's pure, you know what I mean? So you see blood on snow, that's a great, dramatic thing.”

In the 10-episode Fargo, which debuts April 15 in Canada on the newly announced channel FXX, Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, a rootless, manipulative man who meets and forever changes the life of small-town insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, played by Martin Freeman. The deep cast also features Colin Hanks, Allison Tolman, Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, Kate Walsh and Glenn Howerton.

Thornton, who has been famous since the 1996 film Sling Blade, is a master of relaying menace with his eyes and tone. He certainly has a cantankerous side, which was on display in an infamous interview on CBC Radio in 2009. And while he's a much thinner man in person than you would expect – he said he weighs only 140 pounds – he still finds a way to scare you in Fargo.

“There's a sort of common misconception that I've played a lot of bad guys,” he said. “But if you look back through my career, I haven't really. I've played a few smart-asses, you know. But I mean generally, I haven't played full-on bad guys. This is probably the first time in a while that I've done an actual bad guy.

“A lot of it is I was always determined that if I did play the heavy or the bad guy or something, I would always want to do it more like the way most bad guys really are. Because I've run into a few of 'em. If you run into a drug dealer some time, he's not some hyperactive guy who sells hard. He's the guy who sucks you in.

"That's really more the idea behind that. I've shot in a few prisons, and the main guy is always the quiet guy sitting over there some place.”

So you've got quiet menace mixed in with a little snow and a little blood to produce the convincing atmosphere of Fargo. And yet, winter also has a softer side for Billy Bob Thornton.

“I love the snow, and it always has been my dream to have a Christmas with my kids in Vermont or New Hampshire,” he said. “Kind of like the Budweiser commercials.”

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