Margaret Qualley on Maid and Working With Her Mom Andie MacDowell - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, October 3, 2021

Margaret Qualley on Maid and Working With Her Mom Andie MacDowell

From creator Molly Smith Metzler and inspired by the best-selling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, the Netflix series Maid follows Alex (Margaret Qualley), a single mother who escapes an abusive relationship only to find herself desperate for a better life for her daughter (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet). Taking a job cleaning houses while trying to keep from being homeless and figure out her next step, Alex’s resilience is tested every step of the way while refusing to give up on a better future.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Qualley talked about being both excited and scared by the idea of playing a mom, the experience of having her own mother, Andie MacDowell, play Alex’s mother, what infuriated her most about everything her character had to go through, the approach to keeping her young co-star engaged on set, and the show’s beautiful ending. She also talked about how badly she wants to do comedy, and what’s up next for her.

Collider: First of all, congrats on such an incredible performance and this. I can’t imagine this was easy to go through.

MARGARET QUALLEY: I had it pretty easy. I’m just playing pretend.

When this whole project came your way, what were you most excited about getting to do and what most scared you about it?

QUALLEY: I think my answer for both of those is actually the same. I think I was the most excited to have the opportunity to play a mom because I’m certainly not a mother and that jumped seemed like a real challenge. I’d never had an opportunity to do that. And then, I was also the most scared to do it.

RELATED: 'MAID' Trailer Reveals Netflix's Inspiring New Series Starring Margaret Qualley

You took on this real-life story and you did so with your own mother.

QUALLEY: Yeah.

What are the advantages of acting and having to emotionally really essentially bury your soul alongside your mother and what are the challenges of doing that? Was there ever a moment you were glad to have her there?

QUALLEY: The whole time, I was glad, yeah. It was my idea. I was so excited about it. I was up in Canada quarantining and the role of my mom was still open, and it dawned on me that I’ve always wanted to work with my mom. And then, I was like, “Whoa, this is it. My mom’s gotta do this.” And I called Margot Robbie and she loved the idea. Everyone was on board and really excited about it. And then, I was just crossing my fingers, hoping my mom would want to do it, and I lucked out. She wanted to do it and she came up to Canada, and it was a real dream getting to work with her. It was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. Across the board, there’s the comfort of having your mom in the same place when you’re in the middle of a pandemic and you’re away from home for nine months, then there’s my mom’s whole body of work, which I’m complete awe of and couldn’t look up to her more, and then there’s this thing where you walk into the room and your mom is playing your mom and that definitely shifts the situation. It’s the biggest cheat I’ve ever managed to pull off.

It’s one thing to know her body of work, but what impressed you about her, as a scene partner, and actually playing those moments with her?

QUALLEY: She’s the best. It seems like it’s the easiest thing in the world for her. She’s so giving and cool.

There are so many things that are so infuriating about everything that your character has to go through, just to get by on a day-to-day basis. What most infuriated you about all of that?

QUALLEY: That’s a good question. Just how quite literally impossible is all is. The scenes that I have when we’re talking about trying to get food stamps or get housing, the amount of hoops you have to jump through, in order to even qualify, are outrageous, and then it’s like winning the lottery to actually be chosen to have this thing that is not even so great to begin with. The amount of work that she has to go through is really wild.

Because of all of that, how do you feel about where things end up for her? Even though we don’t know exactly what will happen to her in the future, you do have a sense of hope for her. How did you feel about the ending of this?

QUALLEY: I thought it was a pretty beautiful ending. I believe in Alex so much. I don’t know who wouldn’t. She’s so incredibly strong and ambitious and kind. I have no doubt that the she’ll keep fighting, but at the same time, while Alex was able to persevere and navigate these really challenging circumstances, the truth of the matter is that so many people in the same situation don’t have the same luck. Despite the fact that she is incredibly driven and smart, it also requires luck because the circumstances are so grave.

You’ve done projects from The Leftovers to Fosse/Verdon to Maid that are very complex and complicated material. Have you ever wished more comedy would come your way?

QUALLEY: All the fucking time!

Do you just relish putting yourself through an emotional roller coaster?

QUALLEY: I think you should talk to a lot more people about this. I’m like, “Where is [the comedy]?” I don’t get those parts. I try really hard. No one wants me to be in those movies. I so badly want that, but I’m just not funny enough, I guess. I’m the sad girl. I don’t know why.

Do you know what’s next for you? Are you working on something now? Do you know what the next project is?

QUALLEY: Yeah, I just finished a little indie here in New York and that was really fun. It was called Sanctuary. Zach Wigon directed it, and it was me and Chris Abbott, who’s awesome. And then, I’m about to go to Panama, to work on this Claire Denis movie that I’m excited about, with Taron Egerton, called The Stars at Noon. So, that’ll keep me busy for a minute.

For Sanctuary, you played a dominatrix, right?

QUALLEY: I did, yeah. But that lends itself to a connotation that makes it seem like a lot more sexy than it really is. In reality, it’s not S&M or anything. It’s psychological domineering. But it was so fun.

It seems like a big contrast to your Maid character.

QUALLEY: It’s lighter. It’s certainly lighter than [Maid]. It’s not comedic. There are comedic elements, but it’s still heavy. I don’t know.

What did you enjoy most about the bond that you formed with your young co-star, Rylea Nevaeh Whittet? The mother-daughter relationship that you guys have is just so purely beautiful.

QUALLEY: Thank you. It’s her birthday today (this interview was conducted on September 20, 2021) Happy birthday, Rylea! Rylea nd I got super, super close. As you can imagine, no four-year-old should really be working, so I had to make sure it didn’t feel like work. I basically just became her person on set. I’d carry her around and have crayons and snacks. She’s vegan, so I’d have all kinds of healthy things. And we’d play and I hung out with her every Sunday, just so that I didn’t only seem like the person who was telling her to do things. Oftentimes, if you see a four-year-old sitting in a car seat, that means that she had to do it at least 10 times, which means that I had to buckle her in 10 times, and no four-year-old wants to do that. So, I’d have to come up with all kinds of fun games, in order to keep it light and like an exciting thing to get in that car again. But she was great.

I’ve always appreciated the crew, but it wasn’t until this experience that I really, really connected with the crew in such a massive way. The directors are changing in and out because it’s nine months, and the cinematographer is changing in and out, but the one thing that’s constant is the crew. They had seen me struggling to get Rylea to do things and it became a really massive group effort. If she was supposed to be asleep, I’d be like, “Okay, let’s see if we can trick Ian [Levine],” who was the camera operator, “and see if he can be convinced that you’re asleep.” So then, Rylea would pretend to be asleep, and we’d go up to Ian and be like, “Was she asleep or was she pretending?” And Ian would be like, “She had to be asleep.” And then, we’d do the same thing to the props guy. It just became this joint effort to make every day happen, and it was really amazing. It’s amazing to have all of these people make such a beautiful game of high stakes pretend, in any circumstance, but in the context of pandemic, when everyone was wearing masks and the risking their health, just to make something, it really takes your breath away.

Maid is available to stream at Netflix.



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