“It was a joy, it was an instant fit for all of us,” gushes Margo Martindale on her experience filming “Uncle Frank.” The Emmy-winning actress plays Mammaw, the matriarch of the Bledsoe family in writer/director Alan Ball’s new film. Close friends from past projects filled out her on-screen family, such as Lois Smith and Judy Greer. While the experience of being part of that large ensemble was fun for the actress, Martindale’s most meaningful moments occurred with Paul Bettany as the titular Frank. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Frank is gay, but stays closeted around his Southern family. He travels back to his hometown from New York City after his father (Stephen Root) passes away. The two had a contentious relationship which made Frank the black sheep of the family. Martindale believes that her character always sensed the tension between father and son. “She has always jumped in, cushioned the blow,” says Martindale. “She tried to protect him. That’s her son.”
The simplicity of a mother’s love was a major selling point for Martindale when she decided to take on the role. Mammaw’s spirit is best displayed in a moving scene just after Frank has been outed to the family in a reading of the will. His father’s last words to his son are brutal, but Mammaw later calls Frank back into the room to tell him that she will love him no matter what. Martindale recalls that the scene was “really sweet” before tearing up at the memory of filming it. “That’s the reason I did the movie,” she admits, “I wanted to say those words.”
The emotional shared moment between Martindale and Bettany is the type of material that gets the veteran actress excited. “It’s a joy to get to do these small movies,” Martindale confesses. “We’re all there because it was Alan Ball, and the script was so beautiful.”
Martindale is a three-time Emmy Award winner. She won Drama Supporting Actress for “Justified” and picked up two consecutive Drama Guest Actress trophies for “The Americans.”
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