Laurie Metcalf On Greta Gerwig’s ‘Lady Bird’ Directing Snub And Being A Mom, Onscreen And Off

By Sonaiya Kelley
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Actress Laurie Metcalf reacts to her 3rd Golden Globe nomination and shares her thoughts on the strong year it has been for female-driven films.

Los Angeles Times

Laurie Metcalf has two previous Golden Globe nominations for her Emmy-winning work on TV’s “Roseanne” (which is set to return to the small screen next year). But this year she’s celebrating her first nomination for a film role, thanks to Greta Gerwig’s breakout indie “Lady Bird.”

The film, which has been burning up the box office in limited release, also scored nominations for best motion picture (comedy or musical), best screenplay and best actress, for star Saoirse Ronan.

Metcalf, who plays Ronan’s mother in the film, has also been racking up critics awards for her turn. But as well as “Lady Bird” has been doing, the film also suffered a mysterious snub when Gerwig was left out of the Globes best director race. She spoke to the Times by phone Monday.

Q: Good morning, how are you?

A: I’m doing well. It’s my morning carpool so I’m in the car.

Q: You were amazing in “Lady Bird.” Where did you draw inspiration for your performance from?

A: I drew it from Greta. I drew it literally from the script. She had everything in there that any actor could dream of. The themes were so well constructed, and because of that they just have a naturalness to them that was fun to play once we got on the set.

Q: How did you find out about your nomination and who is the first person you told?

A: This morning? Well, I woke up and I had a text from my best friend in Miami. So that was exciting but then I had to get my daughter’s lunch together [laughs]. And get in the car and pick up the other kids for carpool. So I really haven’t talked to anyone about it yet. My daughter knows, so that was cool. And then my other daughter actually did call me but I was in traffic so I couldn’t talk. And I just pulled into the “Rosanne” lot because we’re taping an episode of “Roseanne” this week and my son is working there, so I’ll tell him. [Laughs]

Q: How does it feel though to be nominated for your third Golden Globe?

A: Is it?

Q: Mhmm.

A: I remember going a long time ago and it was for “Roseanne.” Oh. Well, see, it’s been 150 years so I imagine the Globes have changed a little bit and I’ll get to be able to see that.

Q: How do you feel about Greta being snubbed as best director?

A: I was hoping that she would be recognized because having been on the set, I can vouch for the cast and the crew by saying what a terrific job she did. It’s really her movie. I mean, I don’t mean it’s her in the movie, she crafted it in such a way that there was never a time on the set where people were looking around thinking, “Well, this isn’t working, what are we going to do here instead? Can we rewrite this?”

Everything had been worked out meticulously, which is a really grounded feeling for the actors and the crew. She had done her homework to the point where it freed up everybody to do the job that they were supposed to do. I feel like I’m spoiled rotten now having worked with her. She creates such a wonderful atmosphere on her set: It’s very open, collaborative, there’s no stress, you wouldn’t know that it’s her first time directing solo. She made everybody feel comfortable and valued. So I can’t speak highly enough of her as a director and I hope I get a chance to work with her again.

Q: It’s been a strong year for female-driven film. Do you think the Hollywood is finally becoming more inclusive?

A: I don’t know if it comes in waves or if this was planned but the timing couldn’t be better. And with “Lady Bird” helmed and written and starring a really strong female character carrying the show, and it’s gotten such a really great response from audiences, I hope people put two and two together.

Q: You’ve been nominated for 12 awards for “Lady Bird.” What about this performance do you think resonated so much with critics and audiences?

A: I guess people see the mother’s character, the fact that it’s a three-dimensional character: You can relate to her at her age or you can see her through her daughter’s eyes if you’re more of that age. But it’s seeing a mom through a different pair of eyes. And seeing frustrations and things that are coming from the heart just coming out in the wrong way because she cares so much for her daughter and wants her to be the best that she can be, and also furious that her daughter’s not living up to her potential and using the opportunities that she has.

And I think the mom even has a streak of jealousy about that because she wasn’t able to have this opportunity. It’s just very complicated and layered, and I think Greta just did a great job at showing the dimensions of a character who is “the mom” who could be just the thorn in her daughter’s side or just the monster of the movie. I think Greta did a really nice balancing act.

Q: How do you plan on celebrating?

A: Well, I’m going to do a table read with the “Roseanne” cast. And believe it or not, that to me is like being able to celebrate. Because it’s like, “Here’s your next script for the week.” And I love getting new material and it starts my brain going and I start feeling creative and it makes me really happy.

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