Mary Steenburgen Q&A: ‘Justified’
"She was the power behind the throne of a Southern crime ring," explained actress Mary Steenburgen about her guest role this season on the FX drama series "Justified." In our recent webcam chat, she called her character, Katherine Hale, "bad to the bone." As she elaborated, "everyone thought her husband was in charge. He was sort of the mentor to Jere Burns' character. It really turns out that it was her along that was calling the shots."
While she only appeared in three episodes, she had several memorable moments. In one shocking scene with Emmy nominee Walton Goggins, his character, Boyd Crowder, throws an explosive at an enemy in front of her. "What is your reaction when a cigarette pack goes off and completely blows up the chest of someone? I've never been in that situation nor even contemplated it before, so Jere Burns and I went through the gamut of shock and hysteria to try to get there."
Steenburgen was discovered by Jack Nicholson who cast her opposite him in the 1978 Western "Goin' South." Two years later, she won an Oscar for her supporting role in "Melvin and Howard." Recalling that night, she admitted: "Part of me certainly desperately wanted this, and part of me was scared of it. It was very magical. I was still very much focused on being a brand new mom, and it was the first time I ever left my child to go away for a few hours."
However, it was not all she had hoped it would be. "In many ways, I didn't handle it very well. It was too much for me. I really kind of ran away from it all. I moved a few hours outside of Los Angeles, and I didn't really do too much press. I didn't capitalize on the Oscar at all in terms of trying to find the right script. I really ran away from it, so I probably wouldn't give someone else that advice."
Even so, her film career has included roles in "Ragtime," "Cross Creek," "Back to the Future Part III," "Parenthood," "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," "Pontiac Moon," "Nixon," "Elf," "Step Brothers," "The Proposal," and "The Help" (she shared in the SAG Award for Best Ensemble).
On TV, Steenburgen has starred in "Gulliver's Travels," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and "Joan of Arcadia." She earned an Emmy nomination for the telefilm "The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank" (1988).