Kelly Macdonald marvels at the metamorphosis of Margaret Schroeder, the Irish widow and mother she portrays on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
“She is not the gal I once thought I knew,” jokes Macdonald, who first caught the eye of casting directors from Hollywood to Glasgow as a teen in Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting.” “Just the gradual change in Margaret’s character from the pilot to the end of season 1 has been thrilling to play.”
The Scottish thesp landed the juicy role of mistress to Steve Buscemi’s Nucky after her agent advised her to take a call from Terence Winter (“The Sopranos”) about a new show.
“(All I was told was that) Martin Scorsese would be producing the show as well as directing the pilot,” she recalls. “I was very interested. I mean, who wouldn’t be?”
The role has called for a number of charged encounters, including an early season scene when Margaret rejects the advances of agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon). Another highlight for Macdonald occurred toward the end of the season, when Nucky and Margaret “have a huge fight and all the underlying tensions come to the surface.”
“It was such a thrill to go head to head with Nucky and air some of their communal dirty laundry,” she says.
Though Macdonald shares a Celtic and maternal connection with Margaret, the mother of one says the similarities end there. Furthermore, nothing in her own background could prepare her for Margaret’s journey.
“You can’t compare what women’s lives were like then,” she notes. “It was a different world.”
Supporting drama actor race wide open| Shows elevate when ensembles gel
Peter Dinklage | Michelle Forbes | Irrfan Khan | “The Killing” cast | Kelly Macdonald | Margo Martindale | Denis O’Hare | Amy Ryan | Michael Shannon | Donnie Wahlberg |