Before season two of Fargo became the inspiration to one of 2015's best TV shows, it was one of 1996's best films, winning two Oscars: one for Frances McDormand (Best Actress) and Joel and Ethan Coen (Best Writing, Original Screenplay). The quirky, noir-y black comedy about extortion and murder was a critical darling, spawning everything from your friends trying to nail that accent ("you betcha") to one of the odder mysteries ever: did we really see Prince's "Love Symbol" in the credits at the end of Fargo? Was Prince really the "Victim In Field?"
For those of you who aren't Prince history buffs, in 1993, as part of what became Prince's mass move to become free from Warner Bros., Prince cast away his name and just used "The Love Symbol," forcing people to call him "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince." Because what the hell do you call a symbol? It was a weird time all around, and truth be told, Prince was early on the whole "taking the power back" effort that artists have now embraced with the rise of the digital age. At the time, it was confusing, and seeing a sideways "Love Symbol" scroll past in the end credits of Fargo was odd. But wait, do you see a smiley face in the symbol?
Wait a minute.
For years, it was a source of mystery, with Fargo's cult following not 100% sure if Prince was actually in the film, but The Huffington Post caught up with the film's main villain—Gaear Grimsrud, a.k.a. actor Peter Stormare—and he laid the full story out. As Stormare tells it, Prince and the Coen brothers are actually friends, primarily because they are all from Minnesota. Apparently Prince wanted to have a small role (what would seem to be a dead victim laying in a field) in the film, but was ultimately unable to do it. The symbol was thrown in, with a smile, seemingly to add mystique to the entire Prince/Warner Bros. situation, but the rumor of Prince actually being in the film grew into a wild piece of lore.
So who was actually the "Victim In Field," you ask? It was J. Todd Anderson, a storyboard artist who has put in work for the Coens in the past. A piece of trivia on iMDb that's attributed to a March 1996 edition of the Dayton Daily News seems to spell out the entire mystery: "As far as the Artist Formerly Known As Prince symbol lying on its' side with a happy face in the middle, in the credits: 'I'm the storyboard artist formerly known as J. Todd Anderson. That's all I can say about that.' It's a private joke between J. Todd and the Coens. Prince and the Coen brothers are both from Minneapolis."
So, that's that. Prince and the Coens are boys, but he couldn't be a dead guy laying in the snow, so their storyboard guy stepped in and they made a quick joke about it in the credits that turned into a legitimate piece of Prince's mystique. ALTHOUGH, with Fargo turning 20 on March 8, you might want to re-watch...maybe that victim in the field is wearing a long purple coat?!?!