The Minnesota-born actress Rachel Keller has been fielding questions about the Midwest since her breakout performance as femme fatale Simone in season two of the hit television show Fargo. “The weather is always against you,” she says of why the region’s landscape is a provocative setting for cinematic stories. Despite this homegrown love, it didn’t take long for the 24-year-old actress to realize the need to relocate to pursue her dreams. In 2014, she moved in with her grandmother in Los Angeles, where she still resides today. Keller worked on a juice truck, hosted at a restaurant, babysat, and sold homemade vegan baked goods while going out on auditions, before finally being cast in Fargo. Since the season ended, Keller has been spending time between Los Angeles and New York, as well as taking a break to explore the Redwoods in Oregon (“Nature for me is the biggest reset”).
When we met up this past July, Keller had just wrapped filming the drama A+, in which she plays the female lead, Ruth. The following week, she was heading off to Vancouver to begin shooting seven more episodes of the Marvel television drama Legion, in which she stars as the self-reliant superhero Syd Barrett.
It was Fargo creator Noah Hawley who called Keller to share the news that she had been cast as the lead in Legion, which he is writing and directing. His first question when she picked up the phone was, “Is your grandmother sitting down?” In preparation for the pilot, Hawley had Keller take up the Brazilian martial art capoeira. “I’ve never felt stronger or more in my body,” she says. And while many superheroes have physical prowess, Syd’s special skill seems to be her verve. “She’s a girl that had to do a lot for herself, and that’s what Noah must have seen in me,” says Keller. “She’s very independent. What if that is a power?”