IS LOOKING YOUR AGE A SUBVERSIVE ACT?

frances-mcdormand

Ever since she pleasantly barfed her way onto the screen and won an Oscar for her role as a heavily pregnant state trooper Marge Gunderson in Fargo, Frances McDormand has played outside the accepted margins of Hollywood expectations.

And by “Hollywood expectations”, we mean expectations about the way a woman should present herself.

“I have not mutated myself in any way,” McDormand told The New York Times’ Frank Bruni in a lovely interview in which the unvarnished McDormand discusses her latest HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge.

The question of ageing is pertinent to Olive Kitteridge – McDormand and co-star Richard Jenkins play a married couple over a number of decades – and the issue gives the actress an excuse to talk about something she feels strongly about: ageing gracefully and respecting the process Vs cosmetic surgery and trying to appear younger than we really are.

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Frances McDormand in Olive Kitteridge

In discussing the availability of roles for actresses her age, Bruni reports that McDormand “won’t emulate other actresses in her age range — she’s 57 — and cast herself in the most flattering light possible.”

“It’s a subversive act,” McDormand said.

“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she told Bruni. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.”

Having been with her husband Joel Coen (of the famed Hollywood writer-director duo known as The Coen Brothers) for 35 years, McDormand says she is with a man who “looks at her and loves what he sees”.

“Joel and I have this conversation a lot. He literally has to stop me physically from saying something to people — to friends who’ve had work. I’m so full of fear and rage about what they’ve done.”

Looking old, she said, should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal “that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.”

Frances Mcdommand photo
Frances McDormand on the Olive Kitteridge publicity trail
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