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.

  • J Wilson

    Campbell 2016!

  • Benjamin Jahn

    F*** yeah, Bruce Campbell!

  • MikeDK

    Cannot wait to see this episode.

  • Isi

    yeah! Vote now!!

  • TheMalevolentCureis5x5

    Bruce Campbell, the god of Groovy.
    So happy and proud of where his career has gone in these past years. Talk about a second wind. And it’s not even a 2nd wind when you think about it, since he has enjoyed steady work throughout his career. He is just becoming more and more known and utilized. I love this man.

    P.S. He became Regan for Fargo. Fantastic episode on a must-see show. If you haven’t given it a look yet, do yourself a favour and download the FX Now app and watch from ep 1. You don’t have to have seen the first anthology season to watch this one.

Tag Cloud

halloween chucky Television Academy zombie royal family Super Bowl Baby Yoda jurassic park rt archives gangster The Arrangement Lifetime Christmas movies Fall TV GIFs Interview Quiz Oscars stoner travel crossover 72 Emmy Awards mutant Creative Arts Emmys kaiju new star wars movies cults spinoff New York Comic Con crime drama hispanic heritage month NYCC feel good The Walt Disney Company Shudder Exclusive Video Emmys christmas movies joker Disney streaming service critic resources Sony Pictures Hear Us Out Tarantino Warner Bros. See It Skip It Pride Month Funimation BET Lionsgate dogs indiana jones superhero foreign 2016 IFC Films DirecTV Heroines cancelled television Britbox james bond psychological thriller 45 venice TCA Awards Video Games japanese target Sneak Peek ID archives Family DGA Comics on TV harry potter television Comedy Cannes diversity Cosplay franchise VOD new zealand italian Star Wars war Hallmark new york Tumblr mockumentary Mystery die hard zombies Alien werewolf what to watch Comic-Con@Home 2021 revenge best serial killer slashers 2018 Pacific Islander WarnerMedia VICE adenture wonder woman MTV Rocky Crackle APB Nickelodeon hispanic TV Netflix Christmas movies Mary Tyler Moore ESPN Tomatazos Marvel comic book movie Drama 24 frames dramedy cartoon Martial Arts period drama football Disney+ Disney Plus debate mission: impossible A24 Mary poppins Ghostbusters Showtime films Mudbound Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt godzilla teaser Kids & Family cops independent politics rt labs series Awards Tour hidden camera cats Logo 1990s cooking 2021 RT21 parents fast and furious stand-up comedy Calendar Holiday Wes Anderson obituary blockbuster Thanksgiving quibi PaleyFest cinemax sequel comic ViacomCBS Vudu transformers Character Guide game show satire streaming movies FOX trailers Avengers dc 93rd Oscars dragons worst movies NBC comics CW Seed superman DC streaming service Sundance Now sitcom CBS crime women historical drama Awards sequels anime dceu young adult posters ABC Signature Fantasy Holidays miniseries USA Network legend french asian-american FX spanish remakes king arthur live action Podcast Mary Poppins Returns Masterpiece Women's History Month First Look doctor who Spring TV reviews canceled Disney Plus Christmas documentary Lucasfilm ratings deadpool aapi Pop crime thriller Adult Swim blaxploitation suspense disaster renewed TV shows zero dark thirty Spectrum Originals Mindy Kaling kong criterion true crime elevated horror Best and Worst comic books HBO FX on Hulu movie Toys Arrowverse 71st Emmy Awards free movies kids adaptation YouTube Red all-time TCM Marvel Studios HBO Go Acorn TV Comic Book Marathons Television Critics Association ghosts Comedy Central medical drama Epix TCA 2017 Amazon Prime Video TIFF science fiction spanish language Esquire National Geographic toy story Academy Awards tv talk OneApp Premiere Dates pirates of the caribbean IFC SXSW Fox News mcc Emmy Nominations scorecard Hulu book adaptation thriller casting theme song latino ABC anthology NBA Amazon Prime DC Comics spain Film TNT high school VH1 boxing popular romance Apple TV+ Shondaland toronto richard e. Grant blockbusters screen actors guild game of thrones halloween tv Year in Review Amazon Studios SundanceTV 007 YA Disney Channel Song of Ice and Fire Photos nbcuniversal RT History cars BBC singing competition Black Mirror telelvision international emmy awards Apple Dark Horse Comics Box Office cancelled Reality australia Amazon Crunchyroll political drama The Witch MCU japan Sci-Fi video reboot Horror universal monsters batman HBO Max Paramount strong female leads Paramount Network Set visit American Society of Cinematographers natural history hollywood BBC America Extras Hallmark Christmas movies versus spy thriller TV Land basketball marvel cinematic universe Fox Searchlight CBS All Access Image Comics award winner Winners Red Carpet Countdown Summer Biopics social media saw Columbia Pictures rt labs critics edition PBS laika Nat Geo Star Trek Opinion Elton John heist movie Syfy Music 4/20 festival Netflix Animation police drama Winter TV slasher 2015 marvel comics stop motion Certified Fresh 99% Turner Classic Movies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina directors Pixar supernatural prank Freeform Rocketman Rock festivals Writers Guild of America rotten MSNBC space scene in color composers golden globe awards video on demand GLAAD aliens twilight CMT romantic comedy X-Men lord of the rings LGBTQ child's play CNN technology Cartoon Network classics Superheroe First Reviews E! Walt Disney Pictures TLC Black History Month concert Nominations ITV Pirates cancelled TV series Rom-Com Brie Larson adventure Trailer A&E rotten movies we love king kong Chernobyl TCA Winter 2020 PlayStation Pet Sematary south america Turner dark binge Schedule AMC animated Spike Reality Competition breaking bad 2020 name the review comiccon spider-man Grammys based on movie psycho Bravo witnail nature WGN movies Valentine's Day 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards cancelled TV shows screenings Anna Paquin Superheroes Teen Western children's TV Election Trophy Talk boxoffice Pop TV SDCC razzies Marvel Television Food Network worst scary movies The Academy DC Universe finale TBS History FXX biography Film Festival Musical San Diego Comic-Con The Purge OWN 2019 Paramount Plus book TCA golden globes Sundance documentaries Polls and Games Musicals jamie lee curtis news justice league 21st Century Fox talk show Lifetime TV One sports comedies TV movies LGBT green book E3 comic book movies Ellie Kemper Tubi Apple TV Plus 20th Century Fox Disney BET Awards Watching Series Universal Tokyo Olympics Broadway olympics dexter rom-coms Starz biopic USA Binge Guide Stephen King 73rd Emmy Awards Travel Channel Infographic YouTube Premium canceled TV shows Discovery Channel docuseries TruTV hist Sundance TV 2017 Ovation black El Rey Legendary BBC One sag awards Trivia Captain marvel Country 90s Action critics ABC Family streaming BAFTA fresh vampires The Walking Dead know your critic TV renewals Peacock The CW discovery monster movies indie action-comedy Classic Film robots nfl YouTube facebook President Endgame docudrama GoT a nightmare on elm street unscripted