She wasn’t invited to the Academy Awards, but University student Petra Boden will pay attention to how the movie she appeared in will fare on March 24.
Boden, 21, played a bit role in the Coen brothers movie “Fargo” as a ditzy waitress in a Minnesota restaurant scene. She originally read for one of the hooker parts.
“Fargo,” an independent film by native Minnesotans Joel and Ethan Coen, is a black comedy set in Fargo, N.D. and the Twin Cities. The movie draws upon exaggerations of local culture for humor.
“I had my hair dyed really blonde,” Boden said of her audition for the part in 1994. “I think they were going for a real look.”
Though Boden got caught up in the excitement of being in the movie, she came upon the role by accident. A woman approached her theater class in fall 1994 and told them that auditions for a movie were being held at Rarig Center on campus.
“(The casting assistants) would always ask me about my acting experience or (ask for a) photo,” said Boden, whose only acting experience was in a high-school play. “I’m like, ‘I don’t have one, I’m a biology major.'”
Boden learned she got the part a few months later, after two more call backs.
“I got a call from my agent. She’s like, ‘Hi, I’m your agent,'” Boden said. “That was really strange.”
Boden filmed her part during a one-day shoot at a Wayzata Embers restaurant, in which she played the part of a waitress dressed in “really 80s” clothing and makeup. Her one line was spoken to the film’s main character, Jerry Lundegaard. As he pays to leave the restaurant, Boden asks, “How was everything today?” in an overly excited voice.
Boden arrived on location with little knowledge about what the directors wanted from her and just a general understanding of the film’s plot. She said she was excited just to meet the Coen brothers.
With her own trailer and “amazing” food available on location (not from Embers), Boden said the Coen brothers and the crew treated her very well. In between breaks, she said Joel Coen would sit down and ask her questions about herself. At one point, the brothers even introduced her to their parents.
During her takes, Boden said the brothers and other directors would urge her to exaggerate her expressions when she said her line.
“They kept saying, ‘I want you to be more Minnesotan. Say it with a Minnesotan accent,'” Boden said, gesticulating with her hands and looking wide-eyed.
“After my take everyone started laughing at me. The director, the actors, everyone. I was like, ‘What did I do?’ I didn’t know my part was supposed to be funny.”
Though Boden says the movie does make fun of Minnesotans and some people don’t like it, she thinks it’s funny.
“My grandparents hated it. It’s not their kind of movie. It doesn’t have John Wayne in it. They just didn’t get it,” she said. “But they liked my part.”
She said she doesn’t see herself doing another movie. The only thing Boden didn’t like about the film was seeing a close-up shot of her face on the big screen. But, she said, the film is really good.
“I think it wasn’t meant to be a negative representation of Minnesota,” she said. “I think you have to be able to look at yourself and laugh and say, ‘Yeah, that’s true.'”