Oscar-Winning Actress Marcia Gay Harden: "There's Nothing Like Comedy”

Marcia Gay Harden has spent decades taking on Hollywood's most hard-hitting roles. We spoke with the seasoned star about her foray into comedy and what you'll catch her in next.
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Marcia Gay Harden

BC: For people who haven’t seen If I Were You, how would you describe your character?

MGH: My character is conservative, not necessarily starch, but a conservative nice lady going along in her life, and discovers her husband is having an affair and unwittingly befriends –because she’s compassionate and kind and befuddled– this young, sexy Spanish girl. I think she’s like a lot of women who’ve been betrayed.

I think 20 years forward, when your husband’s cheating, your life has kind of plateaued out, what do you do? At the end of the day, this character chooses adventure because there’s a wrong in her life and it’s not going to be righted and the only person who can right that is herself. And lo and behold, she rights it through the theater, and it has so much to do with community and healing and courage and emotion. At the end of the day, this whole new community and sense of adventure and bravery helps her find herself again. I think that’s what I like most about her, that she was brave.

Marcia Gay Harden

BC: Looking back on your many performances, is there one role that really sticks out to you?

MGH: I think you could name one of them and I could tell you something amazing about each character. I can probably identify most with those who transform more, where you have a greater responsibility, where you get to work more because you get to do more.

BC: Do you prefer roles in movies, television, Broadway or a combination of all three?

MGH: I will tell you that Broadway is my first love, but it’s not easy with kids. But for an extraordinary play like God of Carnage, we made it work. Every single one of those options has pros and cons and you have to choose what is best for you and your family in that moment.

BC: Do you think Hollywood is opening up more to older female actresses?

MGH: I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. Every year, actresses are nominated and recognized, but I think in general, there are fewer roles to play. Financing is very international, so a lot of these movies are so homogenous, they’re films that will appeal to anyone anywhere, and the general market is full of many more male roles than female, even in animation. There’s not a representative number out there. One reason for that is that they think young people want to see action stories, but there are a lot of worthy stories out there. And women need to support the arts and support their voices in the arts.

Up next: Harden gives us the scoop on her in-the-works projects. 

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