Rachel Keller, the real Minnesotan on 'Fargo'

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Rachel Keller on 'Fargo'
Rachel Keller plays Simone Gerhardt in the second season of 'Fargo.'
Courtesy of FX

When it comes to capturing Minnesota mayhem on the new season of "Fargo," Rachel Keller has a home state advantage.

The 23-year-old actress was raised in St. Paul. State fairgoers would troop through her Como Park neighborhood every August on the way to cheese curds and Pronto Pups.

After graduating from the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Keller left Minnesota to study acting at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Last fall, a few months after getting her degree, she read for a part on "Fargo."

"Well, I am from Minnesota," she remembers saying at the end of her audition. She's not sure if that helped — but she did land the role of Simone Gerhardt, the granddaughter of a notorious Fargo crime family.

Her role on the show required her to take a step back in time: The new season is set in 1979. To get a feel for the age, she flipped through photographs of her mother from the '70s, studying the hair and clothes.

"That was one of my best parts of research, looking at these Polaroids of my mom," Keller said.

There was one thing she didn't have to study up on for the part: the Minnesota accent. The show takes place in rural parts of the state, and some characters lay the Minnesota vowels on thick.

The dialect coach on set sometimes turned to Keller herself for her expertise.

"He'd ask, 'How would your family say this?'"

While "Fargo" wasn't shot in Minnesota proper — filming was done across the border in Canada — they did get the snow right, Keller said. Being on set brought back memories of trudging to school in a snowsuit.

Keller now lives in Los Angeles, far from the snow, and she's watching "Fargo" along with the rest of the country.

"I've seen bits and pieces, but I'm a fan, just like everyone else," she said.

Minnesota Public Radio is recapping the second season on "Fargo" with a new podcast, "Aw Jeez." Subscribe to the podcast for more insights into the show.

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