Fargo’s Brad Garrett on what makes Joe Bulo tick

Chris Large/FX
Chris Large/FX

Count actor Brad Garrett amongst the fans of Fargo’s incredible first season. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that the three time Emmy Award winner from Everybody Loves Raymond sent his representatives to work in getting him an audition for Season 2. He not only got an audition, but landed the role of Joe Bulo, the middle manager for the Kansas City mafia attempting to take over operations from the Gerhardt crime family during the sophomore season of Noah Hawley’s FX drama.

Garrett’s Joe Bulo also works closely with his number two, Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine), and recently went head to head with matriarch Floyd Gerheardt (Jean Smart). Garrett recently joined reporters on a conference call to talk about his role on Fargo, as well as add some depth to his character’s backstory and why he prefers being on a cable show over a network one. Read on below for some of the highlights of Garrett’s call.

Who is Joe Bulo?

Garrett promised that “yes, we’re going to find out a lot more about Joe Bulo. It’s pretty much, I can’t get into much of what you’re going to learn about him, but he definitely becomes an integral part of the scenario moving forward.” It was partly due to Fargo’s unique mix of dark humor and the danger that drew him to the character. “He’s someone that’s humourous in spite of himself and it’s great to play someone that doesn’t mean to be funny, that’s just odd and quirky. That’s what so great about their writing, the humour comes from character, never from jokes. There’s a real nuance to playing that,” explained Garrett.

What drew him to the role?

“I was a real fan of Season 1, as most people were, and I’ve done a little bit of drama in the past, but it’s something I really wanted to branch out to. It’s our job as actors to reinvent ourselves when we get the opportunity. My reps vigorously went after the opportunity to audition for the role,” Garrett said. In fact, he wanted the role so bad that he said, “I would’ve gone anywhere to be part of this production,” before adding that “on jobs like this it doesn’t come down to the money, and it doesn’t come down to logistics, it comes down to an opportunity to be a part of this production. And to play a role on television that no one has seen me play is really what it’s about–to take the roles that are different, maybe scare you a little bit–that’s the only place where the growth is and how you can reinvent yourself and hopefully keep working in a different direction.”

Chris Large/FX
Chris Large/FX

Is Joe Bulo in over his head?

“What I really liked about Joe Bulo is that there’s a vulnerability to his character that Noah [Hawley] was really able to get on the page. He’s a guy who might be be a little over his head and maybe just wants to get back home. I think he’s more of a guy that’s used to running things from the main office,” Garrett told reporters. He also added that Bulo “may have a side to him that is a little softer–and that’s what I loved about him he wasn’t just one of these gumbahs that was going to go in there and kick a little ass.”

Why he prefers shows on cable vs. network fare

“It’s all about the freedom,” said Garrett. “There is a huge amount of trust that is handed over to the creators in cable that just doesn’t happen in network. I’m not sure why that is, I think the exes in network are a lot more scared and fear is a tough implement when it comes to dealing with a creative process,” he added. This is why cable seems to be turning out a higher quality of television show according to Garrett. He said that “I think when you hire these people you’ve got to trust them and you’ve got to trust them to deliver the right product. I think that’s what has made cable just soar is because they let everyone do what they’re supposed to do.”

How did he like shooting in Calgary in the winter?

“I enjoyed the food,” Garrett joked before adding that he’s “spent a lot of time touring Canada when I do my stand up and I just enjoy the Canadian folk.” Garrett said that Canadian audiences differ from those in the U.S. and that’s a good thing in his book. “Audience wise for standup Canada is really one of my most favourite place to play. They are just great folks and really seem to know what’s going on–politically and every other way–and they are very open and very liberal which I love,” he said.

Will there ever be an Everybody Loves Raymond reunion?

With so many popular shows of the past coming back in some form or another, such as Gilmore Girls returning in limited series on Netflix, is there any chance we’ll see the Everybody Loves Raymond gang reunite? Not likely said Garrett as he explained that “Ray [Romano] has always said that would never happen, mainly because we really stopped mid-Year 9 and that was because we were out of scripts. Ray has a real integrity when it comes to not really jumping the shark and not wanting to repeat story.” He also said the passing of patriarch Peter Boyle would prevent the reunion from ever happening as well. “When Peter Boyle passed we all knew there would never be the possibility of a reunion because he was such a big part of that show. Ray would never do it without Peter and I certainly understand that,” Garrett added.


Are you enjoying Season 2 of Fargo so far? Sound off in the comments below!

Fargo airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.