Actor Jesse Plemons has been working steadily since 1998, but you might not recognise him in Black Mass. Most folks first remember him from the widely acclaimed (and gravely overlooked) TV show Friday Night Lights. As hopeless romantic Landry Clarke, Plemons excelled at being the quintessential “nice guy”. In fact, the actor was such a perfect fit for the role that it wouldn’t have been hard to see him get typecast into obscurity at the time. But that’s not what happened. Instead, he popped up as a soulless psychopath named Todd on the hit show Breaking Bad. Jesse Plemons has been a household name ever since.
While Landry Clarke and Todd might sound drastically different on the surface of things, Plemons still brought a certain understated quality to both characters. Therefore, it was a little jarring to witness his turn as South Boston gangster Kevin Weeks in the 2015 film Black Mass. With an authentic accent and bruised, gritty posture, Plemons played Weeks to perfection. The actor also proved beyond a doubt that he was fully capable of infusing overt personality into a character.
To properly deliver his performance, Plemons gained a significant amount of weight for his role in Black Mass. While the effort definitely paid off, he grew annoyed having to answer for it over and over again during the press tour. Plemons said the following in a GQ interview: “Yeah, talking about , if anything, makes me a little more empathetic…to what women have to go through. My God! Men in general are just not held under the same microscope in that way. It’s bizarre that that’s all people wanted to talk about. Why is that some sort of a badge or some sort of accomplishment? Like, anyone can do that. You just have to eat s**t.”
In spite of his simplified take, Jesse Plemons did transform himself for role. He also transformed audience expectations of his abilities as an actor in the process. Plemons sustained that momentum going along with some of that extra weight for his next major role: Ed Blumquist in the TV show Fargo. As a prototypical Midwestern butcher and the hilariously devout husband to an erratic wife (played by real-life girlfriend Kirsten Dunst), Plemons drew upon some of those familiar “nice guy” archetypes while simultaneously exhibiting just how far he’d come as an actor. In other words, Ed Blumquist and Landry Clarke might sound similar on paper, but as characters they were completely different entities. That’s thanks to both solid writing and then Plemons’ range as an actor.
Of course, while doing press for Fargo it seemed the reporters were again mostly interested in his figure. In the same GQ interview, Plemons said, “It carried over to Fargo, too. And I had lost a little bit of weight at the Fargo premiere, and I remember this guy, like, ‘What’s your secret to losing the weight? Tell us!’ I was like, ‘Well, I was eating everything, and then I just stopped eating terrible food.’ It’s not too complicated.”