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Chris Rock was ‘shocked’ to land the lead role in ‘Fargo’

Chris Rock at the FX Winter TCA Starwalk on Jan. 9 in Pasadena, California. (Kathy Hutchins / Tribune News Service)
Chris Rock at the FX Winter TCA Starwalk on Jan. 9 in Pasadena, California. (Kathy Hutchins / Tribune News Service)
By Greg Braxton Los Angeles Times

Fans of FX’s quirky dramedy “Fargo” might believe Chris Rock starring in the latest installment is a bit bizarre. Rock would agree with them.

“I was shocked,” the comedian said Thursday during a session for the anthology series during the Television Critics Association press tour, describing his reaction when first contacted by creator Noah Hawley.

He said he thought the executive producer was calling about hosting a charity project.

“I did not think in my wildest dreams it was to be on the show,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”

Rock gives a rare dramatic turn as a crime syndicate boss in the fourth season, which is set in 1950s Kansas City. The project is set to premiere in April.

Hawley said he wrote the role specifically for Rock: “Once I had the idea for it, I immediately thought of Chris.”

Though Rock’s character has gray hair and might appear to be older than the actor, Rock said the role is age-appropriate.

“I’ll be 55 in a couple of weeks,” he said, drawing a laugh when he added, “Black don’t crack. Money is the best lotion in the world.”

Asked about approaching the mostly serious role, Rock said he had to be more disciplined than he would be in a comic role: “It’s like the New England Patriots. You have to run the route, and the ball will be there. It’s about getting the part down but also getting my personality in there.”

In an interview last year, Hawley talked about the new installment of the award-winning limited series.

“This fourth story is bigger than any of them, probably all of them put together. It’s a collision of these two groups that are outside mainstream America.

“One group is the newly arrived Italian immigrants who are still very much ostracized and discriminated against. Then there’s Chris Rock and his family, a group of African Americans, many of whom have come up from the South …

“These two groups are both fighting to become mainstream Americans in a way that is part of what we see as the American experience – you show up and you work hard and eventually you get the American dream.

“Of course, hindsight shows us that doesn’t always end the way you think it should end. So thematically there’s a lot of ideas that feel new and original.”

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