Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Jerry Lundegaard

  (Redirected from Jerry Lundegaard (Fargo character))

Jerome "Jerry" Lundegaard is a fictional character in the 1996 film Fargo. The character is portrayed by William H. Macy and created by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Macy received highly positive reviews for his performance, earning him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[1]

Jerry Lundegaard
First appearance Fargo
Created by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Portrayed by William H. Macy
Gender Male
Occupation Car salesman
Spouse(s) Jean Lundegaard
Children Scotty Lundegaard




Set in the winter of early 1987, Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard is desperate for money; repayment is due on a large GMAC loan that he fraudulently collateralized with nonexistent dealership vehicles. Dealership mechanic Shep Proudfoot (Steve Reevis), an ex-convict, refers him to an old partner in crime, Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare). Jerry travels to Fargo, North Dakota, where he hires Grimsrud and Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) to kidnap his wife, Jean (Kristin Rudrüd), and extort a ransom from his wealthy father-in-law and boss, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell). He gives the men a new car from his dealership's lot, and promises to split the $80,000 ransom with them.

Back in Minneapolis, Jerry pitches Gustafson a lucrative real estate deal; when Gustafson agrees to front the money, Jerry attempts to call off the kidnapping, but it is already in motion. Jerry then learns that Gustafson plans to take the deal solely for himself, leaving Lundegaard a paltry finder's fee. Carl and Gaear kidnap Jean in Minneapolis as planned. The following morning, Brainerd Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), initiates a homicide investigation. Records from the murdered trooper's last traffic stop, along with a phone call to Proudfoot, placed at a local truck stop by two suspicious men, lead her to Jerry's dealership, where she questions Jerry and Proudfoot.

Jerry informs Gustafson and his accountant, Stan Grossman (Larry Brandenburg), that the kidnappers have demanded $1 million, and will deal only through him. Meanwhile, Carl, in light of the unanticipated complication of three murders, demands that Jerry hand over the entire ransom (which he still believes is $80,000); and GMAC gives Jerry 24 hours to repay their loan or face legal consequences. Marge returns to the car dealership and re-questions Jerry, who refuses to cooperate. When she asks to speak to Gustafson, Jerry panics and flees the dealership. At the end of the film, North Dakota police track Jerry to a motel outside Bismarck, where he is arrested while attempting to escape through a bathroom window.


The Coens initially considered Macy for a smaller role for the film, but they were so impressed for the role that they asked Macy to come back in and read for the role of Jerry. According to Macy, he was very persistent in getting the role, saying: "I found out that they [the Coen brothers] were auditioning in New York still, so I got my jolly, jolly Lutheran ass on an airplane and walked in and said, 'I want to read again because I’m scared you’re going to screw this up and hire someone else.' I actually said that. You know, you can’t play that card too often as an actor. Sometimes it just blows up in your face, but I said, 'Guys, this is my role. I want this.'"[2]


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times, wrote that Macy "finds just the right note in his scenes in the auto showroom. It's fascinating to watch him in action, trying to worm out of a lie involving an extra charge for rust-proofing."[3]

For his performance, Macy was nominated for an Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.[4]


  1. ^ "THE 69TH ACADEMY AWARDS | 1997". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Sullivan, Kevin. "Fargo at 20: William H. Macy recalls his wonderful wintry freakout". Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Fargo". Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "William H. Macy Awards". Retrieved 22 August 2016.