Amy Ryan and best friend Patricia Clarkson have lots in common.
Not only do they live near each other in Gotham and hang out together, but Ryan seems to be retracing Clarkson’s career path.
After the latter received her first Oscar nom for playing a worn-down, dying mom in the 2003 pic “Pieces of April,” Ryan is receiving awards talk for her role as a worn-down, drug-abusing mom who’s trying to reconnect with her missing baby in “Gone Baby Gone.”
Even more coincidentally, both actresses worked with first-time directors. While Peter Hedges wrote and directed “April,” Ryan teamed with actor-turned-helmer Ben Affleck for “Gone.”
“I’ve been in situations with first-time directors before and I was so struck with how intelligent Ben was,” Ryan recalls. “It stopped me in my tracks. I loved that he admitted what he knows and what he doesn’t know.”
The two discussed in detail about how Ryan’s character — hardscrabble Helene McCready — saw herself in the tough Boston neighborhood where she was born and raised, one which, even at the film’s conclusion, it doesn’t appear she’ll leave anytime soon.
“People only change two or three degrees,” reflects Ryan on where Helene goes from here. “She has great remorse and pain, and love for her child, but she’ll probably slip back into her old ways. … Even if Helene is a horrible woman in many ways, she’s a fighter.
“She’s the most complicated woman I’ve ever come across and was thrilling to play. There are women who are stuck in bad cycles. She had no love so she bites the hand that tries to feed her. … Ben and I played that part together. We just kept pushing the boundaries.”
Co-starring in “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” as well, the Clarkson connection comes full circle as Ryan also has a small role in “Dan in Real Life,” directed by Hedges.
Favorite film: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Airplane,” “The 400 Blows.”
Young actor you admire: Alison Pill
What you want in a director: “The truth.”