Hidden under layers of a burgundy cop uniform, a winter jacket and a giant hat in the new season of Fargo, FX’s anthology series based on the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning film, fans may be disappointed to see Patrick Wilson so covered up as he swaps his oft buff body for Emmy buzz.
The 42-year-old actor, who has built a career with critically acclaimed roles in Little Children and HBO’s Angels in America and Tony-nominated performances on stage, is probably most famous for his bare roles that have showcased his sculpted rear, washboard abs and chiseled jaw.
But he’s quick to refute that reputation, almost annoyed by the idea that his sex scenes with Kate Winslet in Little Children might be his most-talked about moments on screen. “People say, ‘Oh God, you show your butt in every movie,’” Wilson says. “Well, no I don’t. It’s the same people who go, ‘You’re in every horror movie.’ Well, no, I’ve done like three out of 40.”
(While he’s done a number of thrillers in his 15-year screen career, he’s only starred in three true horrors -- Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2, and The Conjuring. He’s currently filming The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist, which is slated to hit theaters in 2016.)
With that said, fans haven’t actually seen him bare his butt all that often. (He’s never actually gone the “full Monty,” at least on purpose. “Depending on when you stop the tape, you can see what you need to see,” Wilson admits.) In addition to the previously mentioned projects, he’s only stripped down in front of the camera a total of five times -- the others being Hard Candy and Watchmen -- and once in the Broadway adaptation of The Full Monty. And don’t expect to see the actor do it again anytime soon.
“I’m never really conscious of that, to be honest with you. I knew when I did Zipper I was going to be playing a sex addicted politician, so, you can’t go into that saying, ‘I don’t want to show my butt.’ That’s little stupid,” Wilson says of the political thriller that came out in theaters and On Demand in August. “I think I’ve kind of done about every version of that, and the reality is I don’t really love it.”
Luckily for Wilson, that’s not the focus of Fargo, in which he embodies a younger version of State Trooper Lou Solverson -- previously played by Keith Carradine in season one -- as he starts piecing together a triple homicide in a local diner.
So far, it’s an understated role that sees co-stars Kirsten Dunst and Jean Smart trumping up wigs and accents as he settles into the ensemble series. Instead of overplaying his hand with the comedy, he lets it flow with the script, relying on the show’s “Midwestern roots.”
The role is already earning him Emmy buzz as the show itself wows critics with a pressured-filled season two. The first won two Primetime Emmys, two Golden Globes, and a Peabody Award and comes after HBO’s True Detective -- an awards show competitor -- failed to satisfy fans and critics with its second iteration. “I don’t think anybody’s second-guessing themselves against the success or lack thereof of another show,” Wilson says, dispelling any notion of pressure.
If it weren’t for the limited commitment, thanks to the show resetting the cast each season, Wilson may not have been convinced. Not wanting to spend too much time away from his wife, Dagmara Domińczyk, and their two kids or move them to Calgary, Canada where the show is filmed, he was eventually convinced by his wife to reconsider.
“It was one of the very few times where you can match the critical success with the commercial success … and those two don’t meet a lot,” Wilson says. “I have done a lot of small independent movies that I poured my heart and soul into that nobody ever sees. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but Fargo was one of those jobs where I figured it would be nice to do something people care about.”
And if all goes well, fans may find Wilson back on HBO. Following news that director Zack Snyder is in early talks with the network to adapt Watchmen into a series, the actor shared his affinity for playing Daniel Dreiberg aka Nite Owl II.
“With those guys, you only get better becoming a retired superhero. I could see me at 50 being Dan and it would be better than what I did at 36,” Wilson says. “I absolutely loved, loved shooting that.”
It’s certainly a role that wouldn’t require him to go nude. But then again, it’s HBO.
Fargo airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. only on FX.