One of the more reassuring presences in modern film, Martindale first took my attention with an early role - her supporting turn as Birdy in Robert Benton's "Nobody's Fool" (1994) - and perhaps was most memorable ten years later as Hilary Swank's crude, cruel "white trash" momma, perfectly named Earline, in Clint Eastwood's wrenching "Million Dollar Baby" (2004).
Most recently, she's shined as John C. Reilly's mother in "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"; in brief bits in Tamara Jenkins' "The Savages" and Tom McCarthy's "Win Win," and as Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard's strange, game neighbor on the FX series, "The Riches."
But Martindale's long-coming breakthrough role, also on television, is as the irrepressible Mags Bennett on Timothy Olyphant's "Justified," for which she's been Emmy-nominated. And this season, she shows up, opposite Patrick Wilson, on ABC's "A Gifted Man." That said, her most satisfying turn to date (arguably) came as Carol, an American tourist, in "14ème Arrondissement," Alexander Payne's wry segment for the omnibus French film, "Paris, je t'aime" (2006), speaking fractured French with her familiar drawl.
About that drawl: Martindale was born in Jacksonville, Texas.
On stage, Martindale orginated the part of Turvy (aka, "the Dolly Parton role") in "Steel Magnolias," was showcased in the remarkable one-woman show, "Always ... Patsy Cline" (playing a diehard Cline fane) and soared as Big Momma opposite Ned Beatty's Big Daddy in the recent revival of "Cat on the Hot Tin Roof," for which she was nominated for a Tony. Incredible.
~top: Margo Martindale in a scene from the Alexander Payne segment of "Paris, je t'aime"
~photography: First Look International and Canal+ 2006 ©
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