Melissa Leo: Soap Opera Catfighter, 'Treme' Pussycat
Imperiled Oscar favorite Melissa Leo's savage TV catfight makes Christian Bale look like a wuss, but Treme cocreator Eric Overmyer says she couldn't be sweeter to work with.
Leo is quite the fighter in this eye-popping 1985 clip from All My Children, and she's been scrappy on the Oscar campaign trail, complaining about director David O. Russell yelling at her onset (while hailing his mercurial genius and the results he got out of her), notoriously "going rogue" with her glamour ads, and often sharing thoughts she'd be wiser not to.
Though she can give an impression that she's difficult, Overmyer, exec producer of Treme (Emmy-nominated for Steve Earle's music and past Oscar nom Agnieszka Holland's directing), insists she's just shooting her mouth off (and I'd say shooting herself in the foot). He contradicts what Leo told THR:
"In writer Eric Overmyer's scenes of her character's marriage with John Goodman in HBO's Treme, she says she'd call bull on bits that felt wrong. "Eric will write something and I'll go, 'Eric, what the hell is this crap?' And he'll say, 'It happened this morning at the house [with his mate].' So I'm sold. What am I gonna say?"
Says Overmyer, "Delighted as I am to be cited in your article about the wonderful Melissa Leo, she has never ever said anything to me like like 'Eric, what is this crap?' She has always been respectful and polite, and so have our conversations about script. She's a careful reader and if she has concerns about a line or a narrative they are invariably thoughtful and almost always correct. We definitely pay attention. She's a great collaborator, and as she points out if you can make your case, she'll find a way to make it work. I can only think she was employing a familiar narrative strategy in your interview -- comic hyperbole. But I wouldn't want anyone to think we don't have a wonderful working relationship -- we do."
Since emotional spontaneity is intrinsic to her gift, let's hope it didn't scotch her chance at the Oscar. Not to vote for her because of the very thing that makes her good would be dumber than anything she herself has done.
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.