Fargo is coming back, dontcha know? The FX crime anthology that drew great acclaim in its first season — beating out HBO's own crime anthology series True Detective for the Golden Globe for Outstanding Miniseries — with its stellar performances, whip-smart writing, and its ability to accurately recapture the darkly comedic tone of the Coen Bros. original 1996 film. Unlike FX's American Horror Story, Fargo doesn't keep the same cast around every year; so Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, and the rest of Season 1's high-profile cast are nowhere to be seen this time around. Fortunately, that's not likely to be a death knell for the show, since the cast of Fargo Season 2 is just as stacked with big names and incredible talent.
Alongside Thornton and Freeman, Season 1 featured everything from other movie stars (Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt) to beloved character actors (Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine), from comedic duos (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) to fresh-faced newcomers (Allison Tolman). For Season 2, showrunner Noah Hawley has assembled a similar menagerie of performances, culled from the best of both the big and small screens — including Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell as actor-turned-presidential-hopeful Ronald Reagan. (Yes, really.)
The new season features a sprawling ensemble cast, but here are eight of the biggest names you should know before diving into the first episode.
Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blomquist
Dunst has had an impressively steady film career for the past 26 years, ever since she debuted as Mia Farrow's daughter in the Woody Allen-directed segment of the 1989 anthology film New York Stories. The now-33-year-old actress is a rare example of someone who was able to segue seamlessly from being a child star to a well-adjusted and talented adult. After putting in precocious performances in films like Interview With The Vampire, Little Women, and Jumanji, Dunst transitioned into adolescence with films like Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, the Midwestern black comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous, and the cheerleader flick Bring It On .
She achieved worldwide fame as Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy before firmly establishing herself as a respectable adult actress in the likes of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, and Lars von Trier's Melancholia.
Although Dunst has appeared on television before in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Portlandia, and the Disney Channel Original Movie The Tower Of Terror, her most sizable small screen role to date was six episodes of ER as teenage prostitute Charlie Chiemienga. Fargo, on which she plays a naïve but plucky beautician, will be her first series regular TV gig.
Patrick Wilson as Lou Solverson
Wilson's character serves as the connective tissue between Seasons 1 and 2, portraying a younger version of the same detective played by Keith Carradine last year. An accomplished stage actor with two Tony Award nominations (for his performances in The Full Monty and Oklahoma!), Wilson successfully made the transition to the screen in the early '00s with the quadruple-whammy of the HBO miniseries Angels In America, the musical adaptation The Phantom Of The Opera, the Ellen Page-starring psychological thriller Hard Candy, and the Oscar-nominated drama Little Children.
Since then, you may have seen him in Zack Snyder's Watchmen or James Wan horror movies Insidious and The Conjuring. Wilson even briefly had his own TV show, the 2011 CBS drama A Gifted Man, on which he starred as a surgeon who was visited by the ghost of his ex-wife. The actor was also part of perhaps the most notorious Girls episode of all time, "One Man's Trash," in which his character and Lena Dunham's Hannah have a delirious, dizzying one-day affair.
Ted Danson as Hank Larsson
Lou Solverson's got a famous father-in-law. His wife's father and his taciturn boss is played by none other than 15-time Emmy nominee Danson, well known across America for playing one of the most beloved TV characters of all time: bartender Sam Malone on the long-running NBC sitcom Cheers . That show alone earned Danson 11 of his 15 Emmy nominations (and his two wins). He was also nominated several times for his work on the Glenn Close legal thriller Damages, which — like Fargo — aired on FX.
He followed up Sam Malone by starring as the titular doctor on the CBS sitcom Becker; more recently, he appeared on the HBO comedies Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bored To Death, as well as starred in the final four seasons of CSI as D.B. Russell, a role which he is now carrying over to Season 2 of franchise offshoot CSI: Cyber.
Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt
Coincidentally, Danson's Fargo co-star (who plays the icy matriarch of a crime family) is also a two-time Emmy winner for her guest role on the Cheers spinoff, Frasier. Smart's first big break was as one of the stars of the '80s CBS sitcom Designing Women. Since then, she has also been nominated for her supporting or guest parts on The District, 24, Samantha Who?, and Harry's Law. Smart's films roles include Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Sweet Home Alabama, Garden State, and I Heart Huckabees.
Jesse Plemons as Ed Blomquist
Plemons may be nearly unrecognizable in his role as Peggy's husband, rotund butcher's assistant Ed. But the young actor recently creeped out audiences as baby-faced child murderer Todd Alquist on the final season of Breaking Bad. Prior to that, Plemons starred as hapless Landry on NBC's Friday Night Lights. More recently, he also had a supporting role in the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge. He can currently be seen in the Johnny Depp film Black Mass, and will also appear in this fall's Tom Hanks Cold War drama Bridge Of Spies.
Cristin Milioti as Betsey Solverson
How we finally met Molly Solverson's mother... Molly's mom was mysteriously absent from the show's first season, but the younger version of Lou's wife will be played in the second season by none other than "The Mother" on CBS's How I Met Your Mother . Milioti followed that show up with her own starring role on a sitcom, the one-season NBC comedy A To Z ; she has also guest starred on the likes of The Good Wife, 30 Rock, and The Mindy Project. Milioti's biggest film role to date was as the first wife of Leonardo DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort in 2013's The Wolf Of Wall Street. She's also an acclaimed stage actress, earning a Tony nomination for her performance in the Broadway adaptation of the musical film Once.
Nick Offerman as Karl Weathers
Ron Swanson lives! The man most famous for playing the stoic, mustachioed city employee on NBC's Parks And Recreation joins Season 2 of Fargo as veteran-slash-amateur-conspiracy-theorist Karl Weathers. Offerman's other TV roles include guest gigs on the likes of 24, Deadwood, Childrens Hospital, and his film roles include appearances in the likes of Miss Congeniality 2, 21 Jump Street, and The Lego Movie — as dread pirate Metalbeard.
Kieran Culkin as Rye Gerhardt
Although the youngest son of the Gerhardt crime family may look like a dead ringer for a young Steve Buscemi, he's actually played by the middle of the five Culkin brothers — which include fellow actors Macaulay (older) and Rory (younger). Kieran got his start playing his own brother's brother in both Home Alone and Home Alone 2 before making a name for himself in such films as Father Of The Bride, The Cider House Rules, Igby Goes Down, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Rye's two older brothers, Dodd and Bear, will be played by Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) and Angus Sampson (Insidious), respectively.
See this impressive cast in action when Fargo Season 2 premieres on FX this Monday at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Images: Chris Large (3); Mathias Clamer (6)/FX