Emmys 2011: 'Justified's' Margo Martindale on 'Cloud Nine' About Nom (Q&A)

8:31 PM PST 08/10/2011 by Tim Appelo
Courtesy of FX

She stole every scene in FX's "Justified" as Mags Bennett, a nasty weed dealer who makes Mary-Louise Parker look like a toy figurine.

The Hollywood Reporter: You've been a character actor for decades in big-deal movies including Million Dollar Baby and Dead Man Walking. Why do you think you're just now breaking out?

Margo Martindale: I think I've done a lot of really good work, but nothing as flashy as Justified. Honey, I've waited for this moment my entire career, so I'm embracing it.

THR: How did it feel to be crowned an Emmy nominee?

Martindale: Like being on cloud nine. Everybody wants to take my picture. I feel like I have to wear some makeup, which I hate to do except when I'm working.

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THR: Even though your character died in the season finale, you submitted yourself as supporting instead of guest star. Are you a student of the Emmy race?

Martindale: I'm just a country bumpkin when it comes to this stuff. I don't even have a manager.

THR: What do you think the role of Mags means for TV?

Martindale: I just turned 60. Mags Bennett is a powerful player in the world of men and villains. I think it's pretty fabulous that maybe people like to see powerful older women. Everybody doesn't have to be pretty young things. It gets boring after a while.

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THR: It's good to see a woman being evil.

Martindale: It is good, isn't it? Mags is good.

THR: She's just doing what needs to be done: Murder a man for poaching customers, then raise his daughter.

Martindale: That's right. Just doing what the law says in my law book.

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THR: Mags really loves that girl Loretta.

Martindale: Oh, that's love. Maybe as a toy, I'm not sure, or maybe just to learn how to be a mother. I'm going to get her married to a man that's worth her while, not some lowdown scum.

THR: How can you criticize? It's beyond reproach.

Martindale: You really can't.

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THR: You had so many amazing scenes. Has it been difficult picking a snippet for the Emmy telecast?

Martindale: I've been trying to pick an 18-second clip -- it's impossible! The end of episode 209, where I find my son's been killed and my little girl is gone … I go from heartbroken to cold as ice. It's a good moment, but it's 46 seconds.

THR: I've actually never talked to anyone who loved selecting their episode for consideration.

Martindale: Yes, I find that weird. How could you put me up against Christina Hendricks? What episode is she choosing? They're all fabulous.

THR: Do you feel that a cable show like Justified let you "pop" more?

Martindale: I knew how good it was; I just didn't know it would fit so easily in my body until we started shooting that last scene of the first episode, where I killed the guy. "Ooh, this fits like a glove." It almost makes me cry, such a beautiful fit. The writers gave everything: time, smarts, brains
and poetry. I think the show is extremely poetic.

THR: Did your background in Texas and at the Actors Theatre of Louisville ground your performance as a Kentucky matriarch?

Martindale: The thing that makes this show so great is there are so many authentic Southern people in it: Walton Goggins, Nick Searcy, Joe Lyle Taylor, Natalie Zea and Kaitlyn Dever. Doing a Southern accent is like doing Tennessee Williams: People do it wrong when they play the accent. You have to play the emotion.

THR: There's also a reverence for rhythms in Southern speech. Is there a regional resemblance between your style and fellow Emmy nominee and Actors Theatre of Louisville alum Kathy Bates?

Martindale: She's a Memphis girl -- we're friends. I actually replaced her once in a show called Chocolate Cake, and she replaced me in Talking With … , the show I brought to New York. Kathy can sing -- she's got music all in her!

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