Ewan McGregor had to wear Spanx for one role on ‘Fargo’: ‘Spanx are no joke’

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The third season of Fargo premiered last week. It feels like there wasn’t a lot of fanfare about it, which is weird because the first two seasons of Fargo were easily some of the highest-quality programming I’ve ever seen. This season is set in 2010 (unlike last season’s ‘70s-flavor) and Ewan McGregor stars in dual roles, as two brothers on opposite sides of the success ladder. This season also stars Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and David Thewlis. I watched the first episode and it was outstanding and perfectly “Coen Brothers,” even though Noah Hawley is the guy in charge of the TV show. Anyway, I just wanted to give everyone a chance to chat about Ewan and how great he already is in these roles (honk if you love Ewan and/or Fargo!). He chatted with the LA Times recently about doing the show and his physical transformation for both characters:

The Minnesota accent: “It’s the hardest accent I’ve ever had to do. It’s full of so many different things. It can sound like you’re just doing the worst accent in the world at times to your own ear.”

Playing these two characters: “Even though it’s set in 2010, there’s a lot of now in it. You have Ray, who can be a complete jerk at work, but he’s got heart and soul and he’s in love and just needs a financial boost. And there’s Emmit, who’s just devoted his life to making money. He’s got the heart and soul of a capitalist, of a businessman — in this Trumpian era, that was interesting to play. Emmit has very thin skin and he lashes out at people when it’s his fault. I’ve had all this Trump stuff to watch while playing him. I’ve got to try to find something positive about this … situation.”

He hadn’t even seen the first two seasons when he was approached for the job. He hadn’t seen the show because he thought “it was a terrible idea to make a TV series based on a movie.” But while on a ski trip he bumped into one of the show’s producers who mentioned they were casting for the role of the brothers. “I watched both seasons and thought, he’s done it, [Noah] managed to capture the essence of that movie without using the same characters, without using the same story line. And when I met with him, and he told me the story line for Season 3, I was intrigued. It’s like an ancient fable, an old tale.”

Gaining weight to play Ray: “Noah just looked at me and said, ‘Ewan, you’re going to have to put on some weight, mate. We’re talking about two guys who live in the Midwest,’” McGregor recalls of a pre-production dinner with Hawley last fall. It came as a bit of a blow to the actor, who was at his “peak physical fitness” after wrapping production on “Trainspotting 2” — with a regimen that included running for about two hours a day. “I just couldn’t believe the timing of it. It was like, I’ve been waiting my whole career for someone to say ‘get fat.’ But not now. Not while I’ve just become super fit.” Naturally, that night at dinner, he ordered dessert. “And then from October to January, I just ate and ate and ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I had a lot of burgers. A lot of burgers. And fries. I had fries with everything.”

He wore Spanx to play the thinner brother: He had a “Spanx technician” — a role assumed by Devora Brown. “Spanx are no joke. I couldn’t do it without Devora. I couldn’t get that … thing over my head if she wasn’t standing there. It’s a two-person job. I will say, I rather like them. I had to fly to London or something to do press for ‘Trainspotting’ and I was walking through the airport and there was an actual Spanx store. I had no idea they had actual shops! So I stopped someone and asked them to take a photograph of me outside the store. I think I’m going to try to do their next campaign ad. Maybe I can capitalize on this somehow.”

[From The LA Times]

While I don’t think Ewan is completely nailing the Minnesota accent – especially compared to Martin Freeman, who must have an excellent ear for accent work – he is achieving something strangely brilliant with these dual roles. Like, he got me completely absorbed in the lives of these two brothers because he really has created two completely different characters with different mannerisms and everything. It’s amazing. As for the Spanx… I enjoyed that image, the idea of Ewan being put into a full-body girdle by a costume-assistant type.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Getty.

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29 Responses to “Ewan McGregor had to wear Spanx for one role on ‘Fargo’: ‘Spanx are no joke’”

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  1. Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

    I love Ewan and can’t wait for this to come on Netflix but I haven’t yet watch the 2nd series. Is it as good as the first?

    • Ariel says:

      The second series (the 1970s Kirsten Dunst) was great! But the first one with Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thorton is still my favorite.
      Not loving the new one, and I think Macgregor in two roles is distracting from the story. When I’m getting into it, and they show up in the same scene, I am just distracted by the camera trickery and the fact that there seems to be no real need for one actor in two roles as the characters don’t look anything alike.
      But will give it a few more episodes. Hopefully it gets better.

    • NeoCleo says:

      YES!! I loved the first season but the second was even better. I’m jealous that you are watching it for the first time.

    • Insomniac says:

      I thought the second season took a few episodes to get going, but yes, it’s as good as the first season.

      • third ginger says:

        My husband and I love FARGO. I did end up admiring both seasons one and two. I hope the third measures up.

    • AnotherDirtyMartini says:

      @digitalunicorn – the 2nd season is excellent also! No True Detective sophomore slump with Fargo. I love the cast.

    • k says:

      Season 2 is really good, but spotty and more distracted. Many more characters. I didn’t care for some of the acting, but Dunst and Bokeem Woodbine were standouts.

  2. Diana B says:

    Honk-HONK! for Ewan!

    • detritus says:

      Yes, this was a breath of fresh air.
      More Ewan please.

    • mia girl says:

      There is not a horn loud enough for me to express my feelings for Ewan.

      I swear, every time I watch Moulin Rouge I literally swoon the first time he belts out so earnestly: “My gift is my song” Sigh.

      • Melbelle says:

        SO MANY HONKS.

      • laura-j says:

        It’s my alarm in the morning, because how bad can a day be that begins with Ewan singing to me? For the record I’m 47 years old.

        Or what I’m really trying to say HONK!!

      • mia girl says:

        @laura-j – You are brilliant! I am stealing that idea from you.
        And for the record, I am your contemporary so it’s all good!
        HONK HONK!

    • tiepin says:

      There can never be enough Ewan. I adore him. Parp! Parp!

  3. Dorothy#1 says:

    I have loved him for years and years. ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Lillian says:

    I love the feeling after party, you go home and take off your spanx and tights. Heave

  5. chlo says:

    Yay Ewan!!!! What a cutie.

  6. Nameless says:

    He’s great!! But Minnesota accent aside, he does struggle with American “r” sound, like Kate Winslet, he makes them too overstated. I actually didn’t recognize him at first but some of his vowels and “r”s gave him away as a non-american. Mad props to actors like Hugh Laurie that can do it well!

  7. Lightpurple says:

    Honking for my beloved Ewan

  8. anniefannie says:

    I didn’t think they could top the 1st season but season 2 was amazing. I recommend the series to friends all of the time but when I follow up they rarely have taken me up on it!? I think having seen the movie they don’t have the appetite for possible gore!? Either way the writers are the best story tellers and the acting is superior.
    Having landed Ewan will add to the prestige….thank god as I’m hoping they will go the distance with 6/7 seasons.

  9. Clare says:

    I cant be the only person who finds spanx really comfy? Their tights are the best – no more crotch sliding down half way through the day! They are pricey at like £36 a pop, but they last for ever. I don’t think I have bought any other brand tights in about 5 years.

    • Narak says:

      I had no idea what Spanks were when I bought a pair. They were expensive, super tight and hard to get on. I thought there was something wrong with the sizing. Now I know the magic of Spanks.

  10. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    Honk HONK! I love Ewan. I love Fargo — movie & show. It looks like another incredible season of Fargo. I must watch the first episode again.

  11. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    One question – does it feel like it was set in 2010? I think the soundtrack & vintage cars threw me off. From the clothing, it was hard to tell. But that is not a criticism. I started to read one review that was so critical, it started to suck the life out of me. It was a ridiculous review.

    I thought Ewan was doing very well with the Minnesota accent – especially considering he’s Scottish. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who I also love, doesn’t seem to be getting the MN accent..but perhaps they’re having her character not be a life-long Minnesotan.

  12. Odette says:

    Well, you had me at Ewan McGregor and “Coen Brothers.” I’ve never watched the TV show Fargo, but will now. Love Ewan McG!

  13. Betsy says:

    Hey hey now, as a haver of a Minnesota accent… okay, he’s right. We do sound really awful sometimes. I’ll own that.

    Honking for Ewan!

  14. blaugrau says:


  15. TassiDidIt says:

    HONK for Fargo!

  16. Katebush says:

    Honk for Ewen
    I’ve loved him for years and enjoying watching him and his sparkly eyes in anything.
    Has anyone seen the doco series the long way round about his motorbike trip that was great.
    As for Fargo the tv series I didn’t honk it was possible to match the film which is one of my favourites but the tv series is amazingly good. I’ll have to go back and watch series one with Billy Bob again.