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Angela McEwan, who was in her ‘70s when she began to fulfill a lifelong dream to become a professional actress and went on to earn a prominent supporting role in 2013’s Nebraska, died Dec. 20 of complications related to lung cancer. She was 81.
In Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, she played newspaper editor Peg Nagy, sharing a scene with Will Forte’s lead character that the New Yorker critic Richard Brody wrote “quietly wrenches the movie apart and makes the distant, unspoken past vibrate with a revived passionate power.”
McEwan had a recurring role on HBO’s Getting On, and also had appeared in the recent film Moments of Clarity and completed work on the upcoming indie The Boonville Redemption.
McEwan, who was born in Santa Monica on April 23, 1934, studied acting at Los Angeles City College and later at UCLA, where she met Guillermo McEwan, then a medical student. The couple married and moved to Mexico, where Angela began acting. After a subsequent move to Temple, Texas, and raising a family, she continued to act in local theater and was on the board of directors for the Temple Civic Theatre. She also earned a master’s degree in Spanish from UC Irvine and taught there for several years before becoming a criminal court Spanish interpreter for nearly 30 years.
After her husband, a gastroenterologist, retired about 10 years ago, she began taking acting lessons and soon started getting roles in low-budget films and on television shows such as New Girl and Parks and Recreation.
“My mom had an amazing capacity to see good in everyone. I can’t recall ever hearing her say something negative about others,” said her son Carlos McEwan. “She believed that everyone tries to do their best within their abilities, so there is no reason to be negative.”
McEwan is survived by her sons Carlos and William McEwan and her grandchildren Lynsey, Ian and Ellis McEwan. Her husband, Guillermo McEwan, died in 2009. Services are pending.
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