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'Fargo' Deputy Molly Will Be a Survivor (By Golly)
May 26, 2014  | By Ed Bark
 

Earnest, relatable, dogged deputy sheriff Molly Solverson, the heart and soul of FX’s Fargo, ended up face-down and motionless in the rapidly mounting snow near the end of Tuesday’s death-drenched, blizzard-fueled episode.

The Internet in turn has been abuzz with fears that Molly has been inadvertently and fatally shot by Duluth-based milquetoast Gus Grimley, ostensibly a deputy as well. No one wants to see that. Said The New York Times’ weekly Fargo re-capper, Kate Phillips: “Please tell me Molly doesn’t die and I’ll promise never to eat crispy whole fish again.” (Those who watched will get that reference.)

The actress who plays Molly -- Sugarland, TX native Allison Tolman in a potentially star-making role -- wants you to know she’ll remain very much among the living. Not that she could divulge a whole lot more during a Wednesday teleconference with TV writers.

“I can say that I know everyone’s quite upset about what happened,” she says. “But the more savvy fans of mine have gotten on imdb.com to see how many episodes I have. So I don’t think they should be too worried.”

Indeed she’s listed as appearing in all 10 episodes, with four remaining after Tuesday’s “Buridan’s Ass” hour.

Tolman, a Baylor University graduate who lived in Dallas for five years before moving to Chicago in 2009, also lets it be known that “for sure that sort of ‘buddy’ relationship we see between Gus (Colin Hanks) and Molly is kind of derailed a little bit” by Tuesday’s chilling sequence. “It’s a setback for her (Molly)” and a departure “from the track that we were on.”

In future episodes of Fargo, which will have its Season 1 finale on June 17 (10 p.m. ET, FX), Molly will grow closer to her stern and so far rather clueless boss, Sheriff Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk, right).

“The relationship between the two of them goes into really beautiful places,” Tolman says. “And I’m really excited for people to see it.”

While in Dallas, Tolman helped to found the independent, non-profit Second Thought Theatre. Her website lists several Dallas stage credits, including Collected Stories for Second Thought, The Full Monty for Theatre Three and Debbie Does Dallas (she played Lisa) for Kitchen Dog Theatre.

“Getting out of college is like the scariest time in anyone’s life, I think,” Tolman says. “Dallas is where I figured out how to balance a checkbook and that you have to have a job.”

She left after being accepted to Chicago’s Second City Conservatory Training Program, from which she graduated in 2011. Numerous cast members of Saturday Night Live learned the rudiments of improv and sketch comedy while at Second City. And yes, Tolman very much wanted to become part of that tradition.

“The dream would be to be on Saturday Night Live,” she says. “That was definitely a goal of mine for several years.”

She’s also worked a variety of everyday jobs, and was a post-production manager at a pin-up photography studio in Chicago when her agent got her a tryout for Fargo. Tolman assumed she wouldn’t get the role, but to her surprise remained in the running. She remembers calmly saying “Thank you” after getting the news that since has changed her life. “When I first got the call, I was probably in shock,” Tolman says. “I know inside I was definitely freaking out and losing my mind.”

She dutifully remained with the photography studio until the end of the month before beginning preparations for Fargo, which is filmed in Calgary. Rave reviews have followed, making Tolman a true overnight star in her first screen role beyond a few bit parts. Such as playing “Nurse” in a 2006 episode of Fox’s Prison Break and “Tink” in a few episodes of the Logo network’s Sordid Lives: The Series.

Fame has since found her.

‘I’m definitely not comfortable with it yet,” Tolman says. “There are parts about it that are really fun . . . but it certainly is odd. I’m 32. I’ve been in this business for 10 years” without any real interest in being a celebrity. “So I’m kind of having to recalibrate.”

FX hasn’t yet renewed Fargo for a second season. So Tolman is “just sitting tight” and waiting like everyone else. There’s also the strong likelihood that Fargo will be in the mold of HBO’s True Detective, which plans to introduce a new crime story with all-new characters in each new season. But it hasn’t officially been picked up yet either, despite uniform acclaim for the performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. They won’t be returning to True Detective, and Fargo almost assuredly would have to move on without Billy Bob Thornton’s sinister Svengali.

Keith Carradine, who plays her ex-cop father on Fargo, has wisely counseled her that “the life of a television show is like the life of a dog,” Tolman says. “It’s such a sweet thing to have a dog, but you know that dog is not gonna be with you forever.”

Whatever happens with Fargo, Tolman shouldn’t have to worry about licking postage stamps or walking dogs to make ends meet. But such jobs are the stuff of “real-life experiences,” she says. And they’ve made her better prepared to “play the humans you’re asked to play.”

“I’ve always had day jobs,” she adds. ” I had never really acted full-time . . . Not everybody goes whole hog and just acts.”
 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

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