Frances McDormand on “Being the Other” Actress

Actress Frances McDormand

When Frances McDormand won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Fargo many commentators focused on how her police officer character didn’t fit the mold that were traditional award-winning roles for actresses. Of course, McDormand’s career has followed a non-traditional trajectory since her film debut in 1984’s Blood Simple. McDormand spoke to the New York Times Magazine about her unique approach to her career and uses her latest acclaimed role as an example.

McDormand points out that one of the reasons why she pursued more character-based work is because her “look” didn’t seem to fit any roles. She says, “I was too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too blond, too dark — but at some point they’re going to need the other. So I’d get really good at being the other.”

For example, McDormand’s character in the acclaimed film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri isn’t the type of character an actress McDormand’s age would traditionally play — in fact, McDormand views the character in a masculine light. She reveals, “I really played it like a man. I completely based the character upon John Wayne and John Ford movies, because that’s a two-hour arc. Those characters can come out of nowhere, they don’t need a lot of background, you don’t have to explain why they’re like that, they just are the way they are.”

Leave a Reply
‘Call Me By Your Name’ Star Timothée Chalamet: “What scares me is being boring”
"At a certain point I was able to come to grips with the idea to just 'be.'" - Timothée Chalamet
‘Phantom Thread’ Star Lesley Manville: “It’s so easy to make someone bad look good on film. In theatre, there’s no hiding place”
"Filming is different. You’re getting a moment right. You can go in and create something very good, very quickly. That’s a different challenge to having five, six weeks to rehearse a play.” - Lesley Manville
Chadwick Boseman on ‘Black Panther’ and How He Refocused His Career
"As soon as I came to L.A., things immediately shifted for me." - Chadwick Boseman
Bernadette Peters on Returning to Broadway and Why She is Still Trying to Improve Her Craft
"You have to do your best to fulfill the role, not fulfill yourself" - Bernadette Peters
Ellen Pompeo: “Acting, to me, is boring”
"Anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that's a f*ckin' skill." - Ellen Pompeo