Fresh off her role in “Secretariat,” Margo Martindale found herself reading the “Justified” script and discovering a role she was born to play.

“I didn’t have to care about anything except being true to that character,” Martindale says of her turn as backwoods crime family matriarch Mags Bennett. “I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like, or sweeten my voice. I had to drop out of any kind of feminine thing about me, and it made it so much fun.”

Martindale has made her mark on Broadway (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”) and in movies (“Million Dollar Baby”), but she counts her stint on “Justified” as a career highlight.

Martindale hit a lot of notes with this performance, evidenced by her first interaction with young Loretta, who is unaware the woman who has taken her in also killed her father.

“She hasn’t been a good mother to her three sons, so it added a creepy element to it, sort of like the village idiot tries to be a mother,” Martindale says.

A scene close to her heart was when Mags negotiates a corporate deal.

“You’re not looking at a woman, not looking at a Southerner, just looking at this shrewd businessperson,” Martindale says.

While the death of Mags in the powerful finale was “kind of a perfect ending,” Martindale says it was difficult letting go.

“Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) was blown up and he came back,” jokes Martindale. “Maybe Mags just passed out.”

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 |

Mayim Bialik | Garret Dillahunt | Oliver Platt | Adam Scott