‘I’ve always been drawn to lonely people’: Ann Dowd on Aunt Lydia, Mas and her play mean | Mass

NSAnyone who doesn’t want to watch the new Ann Dowd movie. Even the most positive reviews from Sundance described it as “painful”, “stressful” and “twisted”; An endurance test some will not be willing to put up with. Including Dodd herself, whom you haven’t seen yet.

“We’ve talked about it a lot, the cast, and we have different points of view,” Dodd told me over coffee in Chelsea, New York, realizing that Mass It is a tough sell. When people ask II say that this movie has tremendous hope and that it has to do with healing and forgiveness. I don’t give details.”

The details are as follows: Two sets of parents meet six years after the school shooting. Both lost their two sons that day – one a victim and the other a killer. The following conversation is only in one room for the duration, and it’s uncomfortable and inevitable. Dodd plays the shooter’s mother.

Dodd, now 65, has recently found something of a niche in the world of mainstream psychological horror, as creepy aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale, the malevolent patty on leftovers And frankly scary Joan hereditary. But even she was afraid of this. “I wondered, could I go to this level of grief and stay there for the time needed to tell the story with respect and honesty?” She can, as it turns out: Four years after she won an Emmy for The Handmaid’s Tale, she’s now surrounded by an Oscar with great fanfare.

I met Dodd briefly a few weeks ago. Today you act as if we have known each other for years. She combs her dog Chance’s hair out of jeans, calls me “dear” or “baby,” offers help for my mother’s next visit (“Do you have everything? Like pots and pans?”), moons over my name (“The most beautiful…says peace to me”) And he hits my hand as we talk (“I hold your thumbs up, I’m sorry. It’s the mother inside of me”). It’s not the Dowd we’re used to seeing on screen.

David with Red Bernie at the Mass.
David with Red Bernie at the Mass. Photo: AP

“The fans are amazing,” said Mashaereh. “They just think I’m definitely going to be the cutest person they’ve ever met.” A Handmaid’s Tale fan once ran away from her in public. She’s also unsure about the discrepancy between her personality and her current dig. “I don’t know why she fits so well. I’ve always been drawn to lonely people, I’ll tell you.”

Dodd worked continuously but quietly throughout the late 1980s and into the following decades. She was Tom Hanks’ sister in Philadelphia. Garden State’s mother Natalie Portman, multiple figures in the Law & Order world. But the leadership roles eluded her. “I was crying after every audition I didn’t get,” she says. “I lost a ton of weight, and I was the thinnest ever. I was living in L.A. at the time and thought I was going to get a billion dollars. I’m not cool or anything but my face is fine. I get nothing. Cry! Then finally in the middle of crying that One day, I stopped dying and said, ‘You choose this reaction, choose another reaction. This is the last time I cried over losing a role. That was 22 years ago.’

It Took Sundance’s 2012 Song Compliance, a grim drama about the horrific escalation of abuse at a fast food restaurant, to be suddenly transported from the sidelines to the center of the picture. Dowd was a week away from her 56th birthday when it was first shown. These decades of experience, combined with a background in actor training, made her strongly skeptical about the handling of her profession.

“Acting is not suffering, I swear,” she says. “At the end of the day, we go home and don’t carry the consequences of the story with us. That’s the only reason you can do it. When I’ve been on a position with young actors who have a very stylistically styled approach, I get very anxious. And I want to tell them, darling, come on now, You don’t need to have a nervous breakdown just because your character does, it’s about imagination, honey, this is your gift.” During MassShe remembers “howling with laughter” between the shots.

But recently, she says, the picture has entered the creeping gloom. “I don’t know if this is an epidemic or not but I have anxiety I’ve never felt before and talking about this movie is a lot harder than filming it. As soon as we started talking about it I would start crying because I wasn’t used to going back to that story as my An outsider. But I now realize I had anxiety about things I didn’t even know I had done.”

As the creepy Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale.
As the creepy Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Photo: AP

Our allotted time is over, but the conversation continues almost as therapeutic, sharing intertwined stories of family tragedy and hardship. Dodd listens as much as you talk. And when you do talk, it’s pretty informal. The main theme turns out to be men who are unable to express their desperation and the dangers that can come with that.

“This is going to sound really horrible and you can ask me to stop talking,” she says, “but I think women are the ones making the kids, and we can deal with it. Not only are men more vulnerable to me, but telling them to shut this thing up makes it worse.” It’s like: No, what do you think they’re supposed to do?”

Dodd has three children, the oldest of whom is on the autism spectrum and the youngest is six years old. Each one, she says, brings with it a different challenge. But she’s glad they seem able to share it with her when they’re feeling low – something her character’s son on the block doesn’t. “She lost her son and he was responsible for the deaths of others and the destruction of families,” she says. “But the last thing that blew me away was that her son was in this level of desperation and she just didn’t know it,” she says. “He was in pain.”

But while Dowd personally might specialize in a mother’s warmth, a flash of something more solid does happen. It tells a story about a woman who was rude to her in Macy’s. And she’s not shy about discussing the rude soap director with whom she clashed early in her career, or even Denzel Washington, who she mentions was a naysayer on the Philadelphia set. “I thought: Oh no, don’t do that, because you’re so good!”

Dodd in hereditary.
Dodd in hereditary. Photo: AF Archive / Al-Alamy

One guest at The Handmaid’s Tale – one with a “reputational tough” one who also comes in some clothes. “It drove everyone crazy,” Dodd says. “I was like: Babe, no need. This to me is like a psychological issue, where you think: Is there insecurities, sweet girl? Because you’re a founder, we’re all cute here, nobody matters, so what’s the problem?”

Then I witnessed Dodd’s bravery in person, when we spotted an aggressive man (with a dog of a similar temperament) arguing with a young woman in the corner of a café. Dodd stops dying, like a superhero who is suddenly summoned. “baby are you okey?” She is calling. “Are you fine?”

The man barked back and told her, “Shut up your nosy old trap.” I started to participate but Dodd extends his hand and supports me: “Don’t worry, don’t worry. I just want them safe.”

It’s the kind of everyday accident that can leave you with a slight shake. But Dodd seems completely unmoved: all determined and vigilant. “Go home, sir,” she said, breathing later, when the man’s dog begins to bark, into the air of someone invoking a spell. It’s a brief glimpse into the resilience that drove her through her stubborn ascent and will undoubtedly aid her strength through what she calls her latest “tough” bout of anxiety.

“You have to come to terms with it,” she says. “You can’t push him away. You have to go along with it and think you’ll be fine.” She holds my hand.

The block was released in the UK on January 21, 2022.

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