a long talk

A Conversation With Ann Dowd and Margo Martindale

Ann Dowd and Margo Martindale are in a room together for the second time ever. The first was a brief introduction at last year’s Critics’ Choice Awards, where they were both nominated in different categories. (Martindale won.) Today, at the New York offices, they’re being asked to embrace each other for a photograph. Before they arrive, there is some debate over how intimately to stage the shoot, depending on their comfort level. Any uncertainty goes out the window the minute Martindale walks in to greet Dowd. “Hi, honey!” she says in her Texan drawl, hugging Dowd like you would a friend of a friend you’ve been told you’d really hit it off with because you have so much in common. In this case, it’s the internet who’s told them they would really, really hit it off.

Both Dowd, 61, and Martindale, 65, have found mainstream success later in life on television, where they share similar reputations for playing intimidating women (a fact they find ironic, considering both were known for “sweet” characters earlier in their careers). Currently, for Martindale, that’s as the tough-minded Audrey on Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, and for Dowd it’s as a strict religious fundamentalist on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. But if I could pinpoint the moment Peak Dowd first met Peak Martindale, it would be the summer of 2014. Dowd was terrifying audiences on The Leftovers and True Detective; Martindale had recurring roles on The Americans (which has earned her two Emmys) and BoJack Horseman, where she plays a meta-version of herself named “Character Actress Margo Martindale.” Right around that time, they were regularly mentioned in the same breath by TV critics proclaiming them the character actors of our time, and by confused viewers wondering how they’re not the same person.

The actresses have their own theory for why they’re linked so frequently, which they share toward the end of a conversation on their dovetailing career trajectories. They swapped stories of the roles they’ve lost to each other and imagined how different their careers would have been had they gained success at a younger age. As they wrap up, two women sitting across the office shyly call out, “We’re such fan girls.” “Thank you, sweetie,” Martindale replies. She pauses, then deadpans: “Of Ann Dowd or Margo Martindale?”

You’ve been compared to one another for a number of years, but was there a point where you noticed the comparisons becoming more frequent?

Ann Dowd: I couldn’t say when per se, but I do know that it was happening, and I remember being very flattered, thinking, Isn’t this a riot? I mean, I know her work. She’s outstanding. And I know that I have lost roles to you.

Margo Martindale: And I’ve lost roles to you.

AD: Normally, I don’t pursue — you move on immediately. At least on the healthy days. But I remember once being on a movie set and having a fine time, and I looked at the guy and I said, “Who did you really want, who was your first choice?” We were laughing. I said, “C’mon now. It’s Margo, right?” He said, “Yep.”

MM: Was it that beautiful movie you were so incredible in?

AD: It was a very sweet movie.

MM: Oh, it wasn’t Compliance.

AD: No, not that hair-raising situation. No, it was The Great and the Small. But I thought, I know who’s first choice …

MM: Oh, yes, yes [knowingly, remembering the movie]. You know, Ann and I really have only met once. At the Critics’ Choice Awards, just last year. We never sat in an audition room together. If we had, we didn’t know. I’d heard her name for, I’d say, several years, and then Compliance is when I zeroed in on her. She was just extraordinary in it. But it’d come down to the two of us on lots of things.

Can you think of some examples?

AD: Well, I know on August: Osage County. And when I found out, I had gone to the third callback or whatever —

MM: Third callback. Isn’t that crazy?

AD: Yeah, it’s like, you know what? Done it. You’ve seen it. But I remember hearing, Margo, you were up for it, and I was like, well that’s the correct casting. I mean seriously.

MM: Really, what you do is you go, “She’s from that part of the country.”

AD: No, I didn’t say that. I just thought of your work and I thought, “Oh yeah, that’s it.”

MM: I’d heard lots of different things on Ann. And it wasn’t until The Leftovers, really, that people started stopping me saying, “I love you so much!” I said, “Oh, wow, thank you!” “You’re so incredible in The Leftovers.” I said, “That’s not me. That’s Ann Dowd. Move away.”

AD: Someone did the same thing … where was this? She’s looking closely and then she started to back away and it’s like, What happened to this conversation? It was going nicely. She goes, “You’re not …” I said, “Margo? No, honey.”

MM: Here are two good ones. I rented a pick-up to do some gardening and I was backing out of the grocery store and this woman says, “Stop! Stop! Roll down the window. You don’t have to tell me who you are, Ann Dowd.”

AD: That’s hysterical! [Laughing.]

MM: I said, “I’m not Ann Dowd.” She said, “Well, you’re not Margo Martindale.”

She didn’t say that!

MM: She did. And I thought, “Well, what does that mean?” I said, “Well, yes I am!”

AD: That’s a riot. The first time I really locked into you was watching Million Dollar Baby and thinking, literally, That’s how it’s done. I will never forget that watching, thinking, wow.

MM: Oh, sweetie —

AD: And my first thought: I wonder how they found someone from that town who’s not an actress.

MM: That’s what the reviews said, and I thought, “How dare they!”

AD: No, no! I didn’t know your work and I thought, Wow, some genius cast this woman. Who came straight out of the white trash —

MM: I knew I was right for that part. Clint Eastwood had asked me to come in, in Los Angeles, and I said I don’t feel comfortable in Los Angeles. I said, “I’ll go in in New York because I think I can get this part.” Have you auditioned for him?

AD: Yeah, I’ve worked with him once, which I loved. It was very brief. The war movie, Flags of Our Fathers. I quite loved him. Did you? I just wanted to follow him around.

MM: Yes, I loved him. He was great. And I thought, we’ll work together many times … one time.

AD: Well, there’s still time, let’s hope.

Why do you think you are compared to each other so much, and do you understand what people are talking about when they compare you?

MM: I love what she does. And I was just telling her, The Handmaid’s Tale is just brilliant and what an incredible part. I mean, I think that’s the part. That’s gonna be the part for Ann.

AD: I hate to even say this, but the Catholic upbringing, possibly, does give a little —

MM: I think it helps. I know that if it’s Catholic and I’ve been up for it, it’s not gonna go my way.

AD: That’s so funny. Were you raised Catholic, honey?

MM: No, of course not.

So you can tap into something that

MM: That’s very gut.

How were you raised, Margo?

MM: Methodist. With a stick. I’m kidding. But no, Methodist. Protestant. Texas. Even if you can do the accents, you can do the thing, if it’s a part of the country that [you’re not familiar with], I think it’s very hard to have that in your body. I do.

AD: Two of my aunts are Catholic sisters. It’s a funny thing about being raised Catholic and then going to Catholic schools with nuns — the cliché about the mean nun was not what I had at all. They were very, very smart, devoted individuals. But when you’re in junior high and you have a nun — I’ll never forget her. I believe she has died, god rest her soul. She was beautiful. But I despised her. Because she never let up. Her name was Sister Claude. If I was going to basketball practice, she’d yank me right out and say, “Your job is to sweep the classroom. And you have not swept it completely. Get up there.” And she would nail me for every little thing I ever did and I always thought, Why is she picking on me? Of course, she wasn’t. She gave me one of the greatest lessons of my life, which is you are no different than anybody else. You have a job to do, now do it. And if you do it, we move on to the next thing. And it came to me at the end of that year, that whole year I literally thought, I will find a way to lash into her, but in the end it was, “Thank you. You taught me something, and I don’t know when I would’ve learned that.” So I think of her in relation to Handmaid’s even though Handmaid’s is so extreme. But this notion that this person loves those girls and wants what is best in her mind for them. And whatever it takes, make sure they know this is how it gets done, or you’re either going to die or you’re going off to the colonies.

MM: That’s what makes you so good in that. I mean, other than the fact that you’re a great actress. That makes it human.

AD: Yeah, that it isn’t just about, “I’m the meanest creature.”

MM: Well, that’s the whole thing, everybody stops me and says, “You’re so mean on The Americans or you’re so mean in Justified.” I said, “No, I’m not. On Americans, I’m a really good soldier.” I’m a good soldier for my country. There’s nothing mean about me. And on Justified, I was just the ruler of my mountain and taking care of it.

You both have reputations for playing intimidating women. I’m wondering why you think that is, and why those are the types of roles you’ve gravitated toward?

MM: I imagine for you too, Ann, that it’s only in the last few years. And mine was always the sweet neighbor or —

AD: Yes!

MM: I think mean didn’t come into it until Million Dollar Baby, for me. And that was just a really stupid woman.

AD: But I loved you in the Sandra Bullock film, the drug-rehab place [28 Days].

MM: What did I do that in that?

AD: You remember, honey. But what I loved is, it wasn’t mean, but man, you got the point — I just loved the subtlety of this is how it goes. Mm! I was the mother often. The mother, hey, it’s an honor. What else. How about in the theater? I’d love to go back and do all the [George Bernard] Shaws again. The heroines. Wouldn’t you just —

MM: Have fun.

AD: They’re 22, mind you. [Laughs.]

MM: I don’t wanna ever want to see Shaw again. It’s too long. Too wordy.

AD: Yeah, god, that’s intimidating.

MM: But yeah, I can see you doing all of those. Major Barbara, all of those.

AD: Loved her. Do you do a lot of theater?

MM: I have done, I’d say, a million plays.

AD: But you don’t have time now, do you? Do you miss it?

MM: Slightly. Do you?

AD: Yes. I miss it because, to me, that’s the great leveler. But I’m scared to death of it. Before I die, I would like to do a play in which I don’t pray for my life before I do it. I want to let that go. And I keep thinking, honey, aging is underrated for a lot of reasons. Mostly perspective.

MM: I think it’s underrated especially for acting because you don’t have to act old anymore. You just are.

Could you talk more about how acting feels more natural and intuitive at this point in your career versus any other point? Are you more confident? Have you let go of certain insecurities that might have held you back as an actor before?

MM: I’ll tell you what has happened with me — I realized I have a unique perspective on things. At some time I thought I needed to have somebody else’s idea on something. Now it’s like, do what you think is right. And that comes with confidence. It comes with age and knowing who you are. And knowing that your voice is unique. That is a big, huge plus. I don’t have to be Ann Dowd. I don’t have to put Ann Dowd in my head and go in and be her, and she doesn’t have to be me. We can be ourselves, which are completely different people, and whatever Ann would cook up as a character is not at all what I would cook up and vice versa.

AD: But I might steal from you. In fact, I have.

MM: That [cattle] prod [from The Handmaid’s Tale] I think I could use.

AD: I’ve brought you to mind several of times, as a matter of fact. But I hear your point.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/Vulture

Ann, can you think of times when you’ve had Margo in your head for a role?

AD: See, you can’t give up those secrets. It’s one of those things.

MM: Don’t do it! [Laughs.]

AD: What I was going to say about aging is, I was in pre-med for four years. I was going to go to med school. Uh-huh. That’s a terrifying existence, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Day one it’s, “Look around, because next semester half of you will be gone.” You’re 18. My father had died the year before so I was doubly, triply committed to succeeding in this realm. And you have to get A’s because if you don’t get them, you have no way of competing to get in. So it was sheer terror and studying, and the only release was a play I was doing. The point I want to make is, my roommate looked at me and was like, “Is this really what you want to do?” I go, “Well, no — ” So, I auditioned for an acting school, my poor mother. I went to acting school, but I applied that same level of pressure, which is the antithesis of how things come to light: If you study the script and then you study it more and then you study it again. I was terrified of the whole thing. And finally, it’s taken years, but I’m like, “Doll, it’s not a drill. It is a process. You will get some of it today and whatever you bring to it today will be enough.” So to be able to let go of that absolutely military, “If I just really …” A character is a relationship, and that’s not how you make friends. You better come to me! [Bangs on desk.]

MM: Wow, that is completely opposite for me.

AD: Oh, really?

MM: Oh, I’m so not military. I mean, I’m very disciplined with acting, but in a very …

AD: A creative way, I would imagine.

MM: I don’t put a lot of … I don’t have that thing, even though I would love to have been a doctor.

AD: Me too, in a way. What kind would you be?

MM: I’d be some kind of biologist.

AD: You wouldn’t be a physician?

MM: I think I would want to do research.

Do you think your career would’ve been very different if you gained success at a younger age?

AD: Yeah, what do you think?

MM: I would’ve probably gotten successful in comedy, and it’s really what I did a lot of.

AD: ‘Cause you’re funny, missy.

MM: It’s really what I wanted, and what I really wanted was a sitcom in my 20s and 30s. I did Steel Magnolias and I thought, “I’m going to get this as a TV series.” Of course, I didn’t know any better.

AD: Well, you should’ve gotten it.

MM: And it didn’t happen. It happened at exactly the right time for me. How great to be my age, and for things to be getting better and better and better.

AD: And the other thing, too, with actresses, I remember panicking regularly when things were not coming in your 20s and 30s. I remember I was on the way to wait on tables, soon after acting school was over. The black pants, the white, and the tie.

MM: I had that too. Same outfit.

AD: I looked over and there was a premiere of a film happening, with limos and everything, and it was About Last Night and it was Elizabeth Perkins, who was my classmate, getting out of the limo. I’m on my way to wait on tables and I literally went home and I sobbed on the porch. I said, “I cannot take it.” I was happy for her, I wasn’t happy for her then. I couldn’t get up, saying, “When!” And then — I’ll never forget it — a calm came over me and a voice. Not that I heard, but I heard: “It will all be fine. It will happen later. You will be in your 50s. You will be 56.” Compliance. And it calmed me down. I thought to myself, Do listen to that, Ann. If you’re gonna listen to any voice in your head, listen to that one. But of course I said, “What? I’m not waiting until I’m in my 50s.”

MM: And the thing about both of us is we’ve worked all our lives. It’s not like we haven’t been working. It’s just that you didn’t see us.

AD: You have some sea legs. And the other thing, too, about roles for women, roles for women. I could never allow that voice in: that I should get older and that they’d just disappear.

MM: I never believed it.

Do you think there are more fulfilling roles now, for older women particularly?

MM: Certainly are for me. Certainly are for Ann.

AD: There’s far more opportunity.

MM: People have given older women more power in television. Not necessarily in the movies. But in television, yes.

In terms of the opportunities that you get, are you seeking those out or are they coming to you?

AD: I can’t imagine you going into an audition, I’m sorry.

MM: I’m not seeking them out right now.

AD: I would say the same. It’s a lovely thing, isn’t it?

MM: It’s hard to say no. I’ve said no to up to 19 projects since The Americans ended and before we started Sneaky Pete again.

And you just don’t have time to do all of these or —

MM: A lot of things. Some of them were really good. And some of them were like, “I don’t need to do that because people will get sick of me.” That’s really what I thought. Oh, do I have to put on some other character’s outfit and come up with some other part so you’re not repeating yourself. It’s very hard not to repeat yourself.

Do you get certain roles coming your way that feel similar to what you’ve done?

MM: Some, and some completely new. And some I should have said yes to. And I also want some time.

AD: Time. Yes, of course, don’t you love time at home? Where do you shoot The Americans?

MM: Here. Sneaky Pete and The Americans. And we shoot in the same neighborhood, in Greenpoint.

AD: Because Handmaid’s is Toronto. It’s an hour, who can complain. I mean, hello, so grateful I can barely see. I have three children. My oldest boy is an adult with disabilities and he’s at school in Hudson, New York, two hours north. So that’s good. My daughter is going to finish her first year of college, actually. And my littlest is 12, and we adopted him six years ago. He was my foster son. And so there are issues, and one is, of course, abandonment and the other is attachment disorder. So I need to get home as soon I can. Go for a few day’s work, and thankfully, I’ve been able to do that. But that’s just imperative. So when I am home for a while, it’s just bliss. Everybody’s anxiety goes down. “I’m here, I’ll be here for a little bit.” I leave tomorrow for North Carolina, which is where Good Behavior is shooting. So hey, it’s just the way it goes.

What are your schedules like in a given year, considering you’re juggling so many different projects?

MM: I shoot Sneaky Pete all summer till October. And The Americans starts in October.

So is that just lucky that it worked out that way?

MM: I don’t think it would’ve worked out had it not been that.

AD: Same with Handmaid’s and Good Behavior. How are your hours on Sneaky Pete, hon?

MM: Oh, they’re long.

AD: That’s amazing, isn’t it? Starting a day, 4:45 pick-up —

MM: But you know, the thing is, what’s to complain about, really? The hours are long, and they’re not every day.

AD: That’s it, isn’t that nice. I remember in Compliance we had to start out with nights right away because we had to use a restaurant that would only give it to us when they closed. I remember at four in the morning, literally praying, Help me to care. Know what I mean? I kept saying, “Ann, it’s being filmed, so honey, snap to.” Just to the point where you’re saying, “I’m so tired I just need to go and lie down.”

Where do you find the reserves to act at times like that?

AD: You’d be amazed.

MM: You go on that kick-in. Which is fun. It’s like psycho. [Laughter.] Let’s go! We’ve hit the wall!

AD: You bottom out and then you come back and you’re like, “Aah.”

MM: Just don’t hit the Red Bull or anything like that. I did that for one movie. I shot all night and I thought, I’ll never drink this stuff again.

AD: Were you on like high alert?

MM: Oh yeah, and then I had to be driven to another state to do another movie and I was like, aaahhhhhhhh [banging on the table].

AD: That’s hysterical. You know, sweetheart, did you go to Juilliard?

MM: No.

AD: You have a close friend in New York from years and years ago, that’s probably where I first heard your name. This is when I was pregnant with Liam, so this is 25 years ago. This person, who was your close friend, Ellen, she spoke so highly of you.

MM: Ellen Tobie! We did a play together in 1979.

AD: And she was of course very close to you.

MM: She was living with Kelsey Grammer at the time. She lives in Philadelphia now. She’s got two kids and one’s at Oxford and the other was the president of her class at Harvard.

AD: Are you serious? Is she working?

MM: She doesn’t act anymore. She was a wonderful actress.

AD: I remember in acting school thinking, What a gift. She’d talk about you all the time. She’d rave about Margo, she’d say, What a wonderful actress. Anyway, I was pregnant with my son, Liam, and I asked her about giving birth, and she said, “It’s like bad period cramps.” I hunted her down. Imagine, describing it like that?

MM: I thought [giving birth] was easy.

AD: You did? Oh, okay. Wow. [Laughter.] I remember being obsessed with privacy. Nobody’s gonna be in here looking around, but by the fifth contraction, I was flagging down the janitor. Have you any ideas for me?

MM: Where’d you go to acting school?

AD: DePaul Goodman. I knew an actress in particular who was very good and very strong — the first time she got a bad review, that was it. Stopped the career. That’s not the case with Ellen, of course. I don’t know her reason.

Did you have a backup career in your mind at any point?

AD: No, no backup.

MM: I knew I could go back to Texas and teach drama in an insane asylum. Which is what I did when I was 16.

No way.

MM: It was fun. I don’t think you call them insane asylums now.

AD: Well, they don’t exist anymore? No, the poor things are walking around New York, hoping for medication.

I’m curious what you both think of the term “character actor”?

AD: Well the odd thing is, aren’t they all characters? Like, what do you mean?

MM: That’s exactly the way I feel. Call me an actress or an actor. I call myself an actress because I’m so liberated. Character actress is fine, because isn’t everybody? If you can act, you actually should be doing a character.

AD: Obviously, it’s meant to mean something else.

I think it’s applied to both of you because you are scene-stealers in all these small but powerful roles.

MM: Well, that’s nice. I think Meryl Streep is a character actor. I mean, she’s a leading actor, gets the leading roles, but she certainly characterizes everything she does. It came from the old studio system where you had your list of Marjorie Main and Thelma Ritter and those gals who did one thing and they did it as, [impersonating]: Hello everybody!

Having been in the industry for so long, have you ever felt frustrated or pigeonholed at different points in your careers? As much as you’re enjoying all this opportunity right now, what has been your greater experience?

AD: Certainly careers have ups and downs, don’t they? And the stamina to hang in, have you ever considered not?

MM: No.

AD: Nor have I. You just know you’re in it and you’re in it. However it’s gonna go. But surely there have been quiet times when I didn’t know what was happening.

MM: Oh sure, tons. Not anymore, but tons.

AD: And trying not to get nervous about it and trying not to go south. I could usually go a couple of months and then the anxiety, plummet. It’s a joyful life, but it’s not an easy life.

MM: It’s easy now. But it was not easy. You had to have a confidence in yourself, period. You have to say, “I didn’t get that part because I was the best one, but they gave it to somebody else. I guess they’re stupid.”

AD: I remember being in Los Angeles after my daughter was born and I got very thin. Beanpole. Look out. Whoa! Couldn’t get cast to save my life. I mean literally, I was in a size two. I kept saying, “Oh god, honey, the body, it’s just remarkable.” And I used to come home, one after another of auditions, not get them, and I’d wail. And once in the middle of a wail, I swear to god, I just went [finishing up cry] and I said, “Honey, you’re choosing this response. This is choice. And it’s an exhausting choice. So can we try something else?” Such as that [referring to Margo’s point]. “Look, you’re the best in the room, but …” I never actually went there, but what I would do is, “Oh, but honey, there are other roles coming.” But just realizing, hey, I’m going to choose how I’m going to respond to this. I’m not going to weep and wail like a child. You’re in it for the long haul. So take a deep breath, put your head down, and get busy so to speak.

Are there any types of roles that you want to play that we haven’t seen you play or roles you wish you had gotten but didn’t end up getting?

MM: I’d like to play a crazy English woman.

AD: Well, that’s in your future.

MM: I think it might be. Comedy, I think.

AD: Oh yes, please do. And make sure I’m aware. I gotta watch that. I’d love to play Dorothy Day. I want to play Saint Joan badly. Shaw’s Joan. An English actress, Dame Sybil Thorndike, said you can only be too young to play Joan. I wonder if that’s true. What’s the other one — The Lark. That’s not quite the same, but at any rate.

Is there a role you’re most proud of?

MM: I love my little vignette that Alexander Payne wrote for me in Paris je t’aime. I loved Justified. I love Sneaky Pete. Now that is a fun show. Oh my. It’s great fun, great cast.

AD: I can say, in this period we’ve been talking about, I love, love, love [all my roles] deeply. All of them. And some, when you had to reach and really hang in there until you found something, you just appreciate the struggle — of understanding a character and then playing it. Because it isn’t easy. I always see you and I think, “Well, this looks like water off a duck’s back,” she just gets it. But it’s part of your job, our job, to make it look [easy].

MM: I think The Americans is a hard job, a hard part for me. It’s extremely limiting. My mind is limited and it’s very one-track.

AD: ’Cause you have to compress all of the rest of you.

MM: Everything, everything. And Sneaky Pete is the opposite because I get to go absolutely anywhere I want to go, which is a blast. And The Leftovers, you didn’t talk did you? Or you finally did talk.

AD: I talked in the second season, yeah.

MM: Because when people would say to me, “Are you in The Leftovers?” And I said, if you heard us talk, you’d know —

AD: I’ve tried to imitate you. [Laughing.] When I think of Texan and how to do it, I just say, listen to Margo and imitate that as well as you can.

MM: Well, that’s true. [Laughs.]

AD: But you know, the not talking was fascinating. When I first read it, I thought, “Oh please. What do you mean? Two percent of the world disappeared? Ridiculous.” Up until that point, I was a kitchen-sink kind of actress. If I can see it and touch it, I’ll get it. This, of course, was something else. And so I remember saying, “I don’t get it.” And my manager paused, my agent, and he said, “It’s an HBO show shooting in New York.”

MM: So shut up. [Laughs.]

AD: Literally! And then, “Why don’t you give it another read?” I thought, all right. Then I read and thought, hmm, that’s interesting. And then I became so attached to it, I could barely see straight by the end of it. I’ll never get over that role for as long as I live because Damon [Lindelof], you don’t know where it’s going and you don’t even know when it hits you. It’s not on a conscious level. It is something else. And my, Justin [Theroux], I’ll never let go of him as long as I live. But the not talking, at first I thought, How do you do that? Well, you better know what you want. Talking is only one thing you do in a room, and it’s not necessarily the most important, but hell, you rely on it. And so, in the beginning, I thought, “Wow, boy is that powerful.”

MM: I love not talking.

AD: It’s heaven, isn’t it? And suddenly, you’re in control of the room, may I say. Isn’t it the best?

MM: It’s wonderful. Honestly, if somebody has me talk to them about a movie or something, I say, “Is there a lot of silence in it?” Because I’m interested in silence.

AD: Oh, I love that. And what is the response that you get?

MM: Yes.

AD: Just because they want you to [do it].

MM: I guess. [Laughs.]

In what way does it feel like a different type of acting?

MM: It’s all about listening. Which is what I think acting is.

AD: I agree 100 percent. And also, there are ways you can get what you want without words. And if that is the choice, say, as in The Leftovers, it unnerves people immediately because you’re not relying on anything. Do you ever try to get in an elevator and stand there [silently with other people]? I go right to the weather. Like some idiot. “How are you?” “Oh, it’s lovely day.” Could you just get from floor one to floor eleven and not say anything? Try it.

MM: Can I say, I do that, too. [Laughs.] I can’t be in a car, either. “How are you? Where are you from?”

AD: “My goodness, are you dressed warmly enough?” People are like, “You know what, honey? I’m good, and you’re good.”

MM: “Shut up.” [Laughs.]

Will we ever see you two work together?

MM: We’re gonna be sisters.

AD: Could we?

MM: Wouldn’t that be fun?

AD: That has to happen, come on now. That can’t be hard.

MM: Look at us though, we really don’t look alike.

That’s what’s so interesting, that people would actually confuse you on the street.

MM: Ann’s got this gorgeous hair. She’s wearing it in the Handmaid’s Tale.

AD: Now how about that look.

MM: That’s real cute. [Laughs.]

AD: Ain’t that nice? I’m gon’ get me a boyfriend. Makeup takes all of 21 seconds.

MM: Justified, I wore nothing. I just go in and I say, “How do I look?” They say, “Go away!”

Is there anyone else you both get compared to?

MM: I bet you don’t get compared to her, but I have been compared to Jayne Houdyshell onstage.

AD: You mean with the strength you have, yes.

MM: Well, I don’t see it at all.

AD: I don’t either, actually. I would say, I could see a certain kind of strength. But that’s very generic.

MM: I think she’s wonderful, so it’s a compliment. Just like this is a compliment.

How about you, Ann?

AD: Not that I’m told about, but this I cherish, I sure am happy about.

MM: You know why I think it happened? And this is the truth, I think. On Justified my hair looked a certain way, and it looked like your hair in The Leftovers. Didn’t you have sort of — you didn’t have fixed hair, did you?

AD: Oh, no.

MM: What do I know? I think everything has to do with hair.

AD: I love that.

MM: I’m from Texas, what can I say?

Ann Dowd and Margo Martindale: A Conversation