Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly Macdonald: “I don’t generally get to play the stronger characters…. but I’ve been enjoying getting my teeth into something else”

There is no show on television that I follow as closely as Boardwalk Empire, and a big reason for that is incredibly talented actors and actresses featured on the show.  One of the series’ strongest lead characters is Margaret Thompson, played by Kelly Macdonald, whose recent career has even lead her to being cast as the lead character in Pixar’s last film, Brave

In a conversation with NPR, Macdonald talks about what she enjoys about her Boardwalk Empire role, what she learned from her first major audition, and how she feels about being an “untrained” actress.

Macdonald explains that she relishes her role on Boardwalk Empire because it’s not the type of role she is usually offered.  She says, “I don’t generally get to play the stronger characters.  I get very lovely parts, but they’re quite quiet and thoughtful and watchful — and that’s all well and good, but I’ve been enjoying getting my teeth into something else.”

Macdonald’s first major role was in Danny Boyle‘s Trainspotting, which she landed after an open casting call.  But practicing the part with her mother was difficult before the audition.  She explains,  “So my mom was reading the Renton part and being really annoying because she was really superacting. And I had to keep stopping and saying, ‘Just read it. Just read the words.’ And weirdly, I got the same direction from Danny Boyle. At my screen test, for some reason … I decided … this was it. I was going to do superacting — kind of like my mom. And as soon as I started doing it, it was all wrong. And Danny stopped me and said, ‘You know, John Hodge has written a very good script, and the words are all there, and you don’t have to put gaps in. Just read it. Just say the words.’ And that’s advice that I’ve kept with me.”

However, despite her success she admits that at some points she felt like she was never properly trained as an actress.  She says, “I definitely did feel like at some point I should go to drama school to be in the same league as the people that I was working with. It took me a few years to get over that and to realize that I wasn’t ever going to go to drama school — that I was doing quite well without it. And I think the way that I work, there’s no technique. I’m just — it’s very intuitive, and it happens when I’m on the set and I’m with another actor. And it’s very much a back and forth. It’s listening and reacting, basically, and that’s what I do. So I don’t know how helpful drama school would be to that. I’ve heard stories of learning techniques and writing your character’s histories. And I’m not that hard-working.”

Leave a Reply
Matthew McConaughey Reveals How He Came Up With His Catchphrase, ‘Alright, alright, alright!’
"My character, David Wooderson, he has three lines in the entire film. Alright, but one of those lines is what I like to call a launch pad line." - Matthew McConaughey
Jennifer Jason Leigh on ‘The Hateful Eight’, Quentin Tarantino and Playing People in “Extreme Circumstances”
Jennifer Jason Leigh: "I think that's an incredible thing that we can do as actors—to feel empathy toward someone that you may otherwise detest, you know?”
Ian McKellen on Working with Child Actors and How He Transitioned from a Stage Actor to a Screen Actor
"And I think when I decided to become professional, my only aim, really, was to get better as an actor." - Ian McKellen
New ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ Star Tyler Lea on Taking Over from a Tony Award Winner
"I haven't done a whole lot. This is my first huge thing. This is my first bite. I was waiting it out and then I caught a really, really big fish." - Tyler Lea
Master of None’s Noël Wells Talks Positive Attitudes and Having Nothing To Lose
Noel Wells starring role alongside Aziz Ansari in his Netflix series, Master of None, has audiences in stitches
// BLOCK AD BLOCK SNIPPET Place this code snippet near the footer of your page before the close of the /body tag