Mere weeks before she booked the part of Deputy Molly Solverson on FX's Fargo— her first real TV role — Allison Tolman found herself at a crossroads: She could either give up on attempting to make a living from creative pursuits and return to humdrum corporate office life, or she could soldier on, hoping for a break. "It was a major, major impasse," she says. "Luckily, that question was answered for me."
Five months of brutal Calgarian cold and an Emmy nod (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie) later, the Chicago-based Tolman, 32, is sitting quite a bit prettier. A couple weeks before her first Primetime Emmys (Monday, Aug. 25, 8/7c on NBC), she took TV Guide Magazine through life pre- and post-Fargo.
"My typical day, I'd wake up early, make breakfast for me and my boyfriend, spend 8:00-11:00 sobbing on the couch. [Laughs] Not quite, but I still had the crippling fear of What's Going to Happen Next?
I had quit my steady day job at an IT firm, so I was temping at this consulting firm in the Chicago Loop, and it was a big gorgeous office right by the Chicago River, and it was a big enough company that they were like, 'Would you like three bagels every day? We also have pasta salad,' and I was like, 'Yes, I want all of that, thank you.' It was like The Devil Wears Prada, where there were two assistants — the Grown Up assistant, and the Baby assistant, which was me.
I was trying to find something that left me time to write, though, so I had gotten a part-time job at this photography studio, Vavoom Pinups. But it was clear that that wasn't going to cut it, either. So yeah, that was... a time."
"This is a fun thing about my life now: I don't know what I'm doing, ever. And when you all of a sudden have an abundance of time, like I do right now, you get spoiled. I was working, like, 14-hour days on Fargo, and now if I schedule more than two things in a day, I'm like, 'Whoa, you guys. That's two train rides, and I have to plan for an hour-and-a-half lunch with my cat.'
Today, though, I went to Rolling Stone and got to see their hall of covers, I'm with you now, and I'm meeting with a casting director, and I'll be on Late Night With Seth Meyers tonight [Aug. 7]. That's pretty exciting — it's the first time I've ever been on a talk show. And I'm excited to actually move to L.A., especially since Fargo's going into a second season and I'm not in it. The sting of that has definitely worn off for me, not getting to go back and be part of that experience — just because I had such an awesome time for Season 1. But I totally get it.
But what's life after Fargo? I... dunno. So far, grilled chicken breasts. Grilled broccolini. Some grilled watermelon. I grill, like, every day. About 75 percent of the daily routine is the same, really, but at least that crippling fear has been removed."