Holland Taylor Interview: ‘Mr. Mercedes’
“It’s a marvelous piece of work,” declares Emmy winner Holland Taylor of the drama series “Mr. Mercedes.” Taylor plays Ida Silver, the vibrant and nosy next door neighbor of retired detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) for Audience Network. Almost all of Taylor’s scenes occur with Gleeson, whom she cites as a “masterclass of acting” in our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video interview above).
But Gleeson isn’t the only big name attached to the show. “Mr. Mercedes” reunites the actress with David E. Kelley, who gave Taylor her Emmy-winning role on “The Practice.” She prevailed in 1999 for Best Drama Supporting Actress, the same category in which she is eligible this summer. With this collaboration, they are bringing Stephen King’s trilogy of novels to the screen.
Uniquely, Taylor’s Ida is the only main character in the drama who is not present in King’s original novels. As Taylor puts it, the story is set in a “very dark, sort of hopeless, flat, kind of world.” So when the story made the transition to the screen, Gleeson’s Bill needed “somebody who could be a welcoming caring person” as he struggles with the emotional fallout from failing to catch a serial killer (Harry Treadaway). The lack of source material for Ida hasn’t held Taylor back from creating a dynamic character who provides a welcome source of levity and feistiness: “She speaks her mind and she doesn’t care who knows it.”
As fate would have it, Taylor isn’t one for the scares associated with a King thriller. “I’m not a fan” of horror she admits, noting she gets too scared to watch many thrillers. But the series is less about the mood for her and more about the character’s emotional life, just like any other part. “I don’t think so much in terms of genre.”
What she does think about is the lack of quality roles for older actresses in Hollywood. The generic mother or grandmother roles that so many of Hollywood’s top female talent become saddled with don’t resemble any real person to her. On the contrary, at this point in her life and career, Taylor says she has “never felt more keenly, mentally alive… to be at this place in life is very, very rich.”