Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Margo Martindale story...

Another Justified performance from Margo Martindale
By Raymond de Asis Lo L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated June 20, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (0)

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Margo, whose Justified character, Mags Bennet, has been likened to Tony Soprano, is expected to receive an Emmy nomination for Best Actress.| Zoom
It’s fairly common to expect by now that, in Hollywood, not every actor lives a glamorous life. Any committed actor would readily tell you that there’s a big difference between a celebrity who is famous for, yes, just being famous and a true actor who is not easily recognizable in public but provides his fans with memorable performances on movies and in television.

For every Hollywood superstar there’s a community of small actors running from one audition to another, happy to get that walk-on part or, if they get lucky, a speaking part with one or two lines of dialogues. These are the men and women who provide Hollywood with an enviable pool of talents that would guarantee the industry with a continuous supply of potential superstars for years and years to come.

This writer recently shared an elevator ride with a few of those actors after I graced a special screening (a promotional run-up to next month’s announcement of this year’s Emmy Awards nominations) of the hit television drama Justified at the Wilshire headquarters of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Foundation and, although I only exchanged terse greetings with them, their conversation, which I couldn’t help but overhear during the short ride, offered an interesting glimpse of what it is like for those actors who are still toiling in their craft and waiting for that break, that rare breakthrough that puts them under the cover of the spotlight and finally gets them the recognition, the adulation they rightfully deserve.

One of the stars of Justified belongs to those who didn’t give up and are now enjoying the spotlight all for themselves. That glare maybe lesser in scale compared to more established stars but it doesn’t matter; they get to have the stage to themselves as their fellow actors applaud their performances and try to get tips on what it took for them to finally find success in the business.

After the screening, star Margo Martindale did just that. Joined by lead star Timothy Olyphant and producer Graham Yost onstage, the actress took on questions from a roomful of fellow actors and it turned out to be a more revealing — and sometimes very personal — Q&A than what would have transpired if a group of journalists were asking the questions themselves. This writer and two other Asian journalists decided to keep quiet during the 40-minute lighthearted Q&A and let the actors do the grilling.

Margo started in the business doing commercials for a fabric softener in the 1970s. “I never did a Tide commercial,” she would correct one lady who asked if the commercial she did for the detergent was the jumping point of her career.  “I did the original Steel Magnolias and that was my jumping point into the movies,” she said.
The Texas-born actress, who was nominated for a Best Actress Tony for her 2004 turn in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, also credited her high school drama teacher and her mother for introducing her to the art of acting.

Margo’s name may not sound familiar to moviegoers but her impressive TV and film resume would make anyone an instant fan of hers. She was Miley Cyrus’ grandma in Hannah Montana and has appeared in Twilight and in The Hours with Meryl Streep.

She is quite affectionate in person but onscreen has this menacing presence (“because I am fat,” she would joke during the Q&A) about her that would make even the toughest man take a step back and reconsider whatever he is planning to do — this is very much evident in her scary turn as a fierce matriarch of a small town criminal family engaged in the illegal trade of moonshine, a type of banned liquor mostly produced in the southern part of the US.
Margo, whose character, Mags Bennet, has been likened to Tony Soprano in several rave reviews, is widely expected to receive an Emmy nomination for Best Actress. It is something the talented actress brushes aside with a smile and a nod.

The two season-old Justified ended its second season run in the US in early May and the episode shown during the special screening was episode No. 9 of the 13-episode season and it had a few explosive character and plot revelations that this writer would have been so inclined to share had the show already completed its second season run in the Philippines.

AXN Network subscribers can catch season two of Justified every Saturday at 10:45 p.m.

Justified is based on bestselling novelist Elmore Leonard’s short story Fire in the Hole and lesser-known novels, Pronto and Riding the Rap. It revolves around an ex-US Marshal named Raylan Givens, portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, who, after 20 years of service, was transferred back to his small Kentucky hometown against his will only to discover that his former friends still consider him a friend while his enemies remained just that, his enemies.

Timothy’s Raylan is Margo’s Mags main adversary in the show’s second season. In the episode that we saw, the two actors share several intense scenes together but the most engaging was the climactic confrontation between the two by the end of the episode after a violent scuffle involving Raylan and one of Mags’ sons turned tragic.

The two actors received extended applause after the screening for their excellent performances and should Margo receive that much-buzzed Emmy nomination on July 8, she won’t be the only one celebrating that day, there will be a whole community of character actors cheering her on.

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