News

Bruce Campbell's Ronald Reagan Impression Pays Off In Tonight's Episode of Fargo

by | November 9, 2015 | Comments

 

“Waiting for Dutch” was the name of this season’s Fargo premiere — and now the wait is over with tonight’s episode, “The Gift of the Magi,” when Bruce Campbell guest stars as Ronald Reagan in the FX anthology series. We meet a pre-POTUS Reagan on a campaign swing through tiny Luverne, Minnesota, where “Dutch” gives a stump speech for his 1980 presidential bid.

Groovy Bruce nails it as The Great Communicator. He’s got it all going on, from the charisma and palpable patriotism to the rosy cheeks and Brylcreem in his black pompadour. Not to mention Reagan’s velvet-smooth voice.

Campbell started working on that — just for fun — long before he landed the role.

“Everyone I knew imitated him,” Campbell said about the 40th president.

That includes Fargo executive producer John Cameron.

“We’re close friends. He’s the godfather of my son,” said Cameron, who beckoned his longtime pal to the Calgary set to shoot the fifth episode. “It was easy to pick up the phone and say, ‘You’re going to Canada.’”

 

Campbell and Cameron met in high school in suburban Detroit and worked together on The Evil Dead (1981) and several Coen brothers’ movies, including the 1996 Oscar-winning Fargo (Campbell made an unbilled cameo) that inspired Noah Hawley’s cable series of the same name.

“When the Reagan character became central to one of the episodes, it seemed obvious that Bruce had to play Reagan,” Cameron said, noting that it was Hawley’s idea. “He’s a fan of Bruce’s work.”

At the TV critics’ press tour this summer, Hawley talked about the Reagan storyline in season two, which began in Fargo’s typical offbeat fashion. The opening scene featured an outtake from a fake black-and-white 1951 movie titled Massacre at Sioux Falls. The actors, including a Native American in headdress and face paint, were killing time on the chilly set, waiting for the arrival of the film’s star: a young Ronald Reagan.

“The spectre of Ronald Reagan hangs over the movie because it also hangs over this time period, 1979, where post-Watergate, post-Vietnam, the American narrative becomes so complicated,” Hawley said. “These characters [in the opening] are standing around waiting for Reagan the way that America was.”

“Nobody knew if we could get out of this mess,” he added. “Then along came Reagan and said, ‘It’s not that complicated. We are Americans.’ And the country changed dramatically from the ’70s to the ’80s.”

(Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

 

Campbell filmed Fargo shortly before heading to New Zealand this spring to shoot Starz’s new series, Ash vs. Evil Dead.

“I had to grow my sideburns back after getting all trimmed up to play Reagan,” the actor said on the Southern Hemisphere set, rubbing his face with Ash’s prosthetic hand.

When we’re introduced to Campbell’s clean-shaven Reagan in Fargo, the future prez is humble-bragging about the many people he saved as a lifeguard in Illinois and wooing the crowd with lines from an actual 1979 speech announcing his candidacy.

Campbell fastidiously researches his roles, Cameron said, and the Reagan part was no exception.

“On his own dime and on his own time, he went to a studio and filmed himself doing Reagan speeches and sent them to us for comment,” explained Cameron. “He wanted to know what we thought of his expression.”

He got Hawley’s vote.

“We had a long conversation about the accent and the mannerisms, and I think he did an amazing job,” the Fargo creator said. “It’s really awesome.”

“The Gift of the Magi,” starring Bruce Campbell, airs tonight on FX at 10 p.m. Read season two reviews here.

Tag Cloud

TNT Pop Martial Arts Marvel casting psychological thriller die hard Marvel Television Crunchyroll Pet Sematary films Hulu BAFTA anthology Funimation Epix YouTube Red VOD Disney streaming service Food Network Elton John Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt DC Universe foreign criterion Polls and Games Horror dramedy Amazon Prime Video adventure free movies miniseries Chilling Adventures of Sabrina YouTube Premium Lionsgate Syfy Holiday chucky Rocky MSNBC south america thriller GoT Acorn TV romance book romantic comedy Arrowverse Masterpiece Pirates series Tomatazos politics Sci-Fi Television Critics Association IFC historical drama MCU Endgame Super Bowl aliens spanish language binge documentaries supernatural true crime A24 reviews Dark Horse Comics Comic Book war TV Baby Yoda joker robots Turner SXSW Fantasy FXX concert Logo reboot HBO Go Spike Mary poppins quibi DGA DirecTV BET Awards adaptation Cosplay boxoffice El Rey APB E3 name the review ITV Thanksgiving Chernobyl police drama comiccon technology History streaming Biopics 2018 FX on Hulu USA Trailer Brie Larson 24 frames Comedy richard e. Grant critics Reality ABC The Purge Mudbound directors justice league political drama Trivia Trophy Talk Writers Guild of America Set visit Sundance TV OWN 2015 blockbuster Avengers RT21 breaking bad Rock Turner Classic Movies SundanceTV TV renewals Star Trek cartoon spinoff Hallmark Christmas movies Superheroes Song of Ice and Fire Teen latino Oscars 2016 Universal screen actors guild Crackle cinemax crime thriller twilight Superheroe The Arrangement Vudu Spring TV TV Land crime TCA Winter 2020 E! zombies Television Academy Best and Worst spain facebook Red Carpet teaser Ellie Kemper Amazon Studios spider-man Paramount festivals CBS game show 007 mutant Mindy Kaling Kids & Family cancelled TV shows green book TBS X-Men nature cancelled TV series DC streaming service PlayStation IFC Films Nat Geo theme song NYCC news CNN ratings ghosts Winter TV TCA 2017 medical drama hist Premiere Dates 20th Century Fox YouTube Showtime blaxploitation Tubi witnail Discovery Channel Freeform ESPN Cannes stoner Emmys crime drama kids franchise Animation vampires dark based on movie zombie television FX finale Infographic CMT VICE Starz Certified Fresh Disney Channel documentary Rocketman all-time mission: impossible Netflix Film Opinion HBO First Look 2017 strong female leads composers Tarantino doctor who Star Wars christmas movies universal monsters Binge Guide sports TLC TIFF spy thriller Britbox PaleyFest cars TCM Anna Paquin revenge Comedy Central Extras movies WarnerMedia game of thrones Amazon Prime Countdown screenings Christmas cults comic Netflix Christmas movies sag awards AMC Stephen King See It Skip It batman parents satire best biography ABC Family Travel Channel Hear Us Out toy story space Year in Review Women's History Month TCA Awards docudrama BBC One Shudder Nominations Lucasfilm Disney Plus The Walking Dead canceled hispanic RT History BBC VH1 Disney sitcom GIFs Lifetime Christmas movies Quiz Photos 21st Century Fox harry potter BET Disney+ Disney Plus Ghostbusters Classic Film USA Network Shondaland diversity children's TV Music Academy Awards cancelled television Apple Marathons Paramount Network National Geographic Walt Disney Pictures Video Games TruTV Awards Tumblr Grammys The CW HBO Max Character Guide Peacock video Pop TV OneApp Calendar Box Office anime Reality Competition golden globes TCA CW Seed 2020 natural history PBS discovery First Reviews New York Comic Con zero dark thirty tv talk LGBT disaster Election Apple TV+ cancelled Columbia Pictures jamie lee curtis cooking FOX Nickelodeon Adult Swim American Society of Cinematographers Podcast Film Festival comedies indiana jones Comics on TV serial killer singing competition elevated horror Valentine's Day sequel canceled TV shows San Diego Comic-Con werewolf SDCC social media a nightmare on elm street WGN GLAAD A&E Holidays halloween video on demand cats transformers Country Marvel Studios Fall TV Winners Lifetime rotten movies we love movie unscripted Sundance Mary Tyler Moore CBS All Access stand-up comedy Toys Black History Month slashers cops Sneak Peek what to watch Fox News Creative Arts Emmys dc YA Watching Series President independent psycho child's play asian-american Drama 2019 Mystery Captain marvel Musical The Witch renewed TV shows comics dogs Bravo talk show award winner indie Pixar Cartoon Network Western Amazon animated science fiction Ovation Interview Mary Poppins Returns versus Summer period drama Pride Month NBC 4/20 LGBTQ Heroines Sundance Now Schedule Family BBC America Awards Tour Esquire Emmy Nominations Musicals Spectrum Originals DC Comics dragons Apple TV Plus Rom-Com 45 dceu Black Mirror Sony Pictures crossover Action Warner Bros. Hallmark mockumentary travel scary movies MTV 71st Emmy Awards