You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Frances McDormand in ‘Promised Land’

Eye on the Oscars: The Actress - Supporting Actress Contenders

Prior to any producer coming on board, before the film’s premise was even in its finished form, Frances McDormand was all in with “Promised Land.”

Matt Damon says he and co-writer John Krasinski sent her the earliest draft of the script, back when it was a movie about windmill farm prospecting in upstate New York and not about natural gas drilling in rural Middle America.

McDormand plays Sue Thomason, a slick-tongued, no frills gas company land buyer who opts for playful punches over an encouraging hug when her colleague, Damon’s Steve Butler, gets a promotion.

Popular on Variety

While she’s grateful for the work, her time on the road keeps her away from her son, and that becomes an an internal struggle that McDormand masterfully keeps simmering just beneath the surface.

“Her performance as Sue is so layered and nuanced,” says Damon about his co-star with whom they often share the screen. “Many times I’d be playing a scene with Fran and sense something strong happening. Then, watching the dailies, I could take the opportunity to see the distinctions in every single take she did.”

And as for preparing for the role, McDormand didn’t have to step too far out of her own shoes to get into Sue’s. Issues central to the film are ones she is all too familiar with.

“I went to high school in a steel town in Pennsylvania,” McDormand says. “Now the town is suffering a lot, although I have friends that are still living there happily because it’s their community.”

Thus she lends a lot of heart to her role as the proxy for heartless corporate America.


More Scene

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Ron Howard Gives Update on ‘Willow’ Disney Plus Series: 'No Greenlight Yet'

    While the prospect of a sequel series to Ron Howard‘s 1988 fantasy feature “Willow” has gotten fans frothing at the mouth, Howard told Variety that Disney Plus still hasn’t made a final decision on the show as of yet. Reports that Howard was in talks to develop the series with writer Jonathan Kasdan emerged last May, [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Why Blake Lively Isn't Trying to Be the 'Female James Bond' in 'The Rhythm Section'

    “The Rhythm Section,” Reed Morano’s new espionage thriller about a female assassin who sets out to avenge her family’s untimely death, is not a female-led approximation of a “James Bond” film. Though Barbara Broccoli, the magnate producer whose family has been solely responsible for the franchise, is producing the movie, “The Rhythm Section” is decidedly not [...]

  • Oscar Menu to Be Almost All

    Oscar Menu to Be Almost All Plant-Based

    The Oscars are getting greener. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday that it will be offering entirely plant-based menus at today’s Oscar Nominees Luncheon and then in the Dolby Theatre lobbies prior to the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9. The post-ceremony Governors Ball will be 70% plant-based, and 30% [...]

  • 'Little America' Team on Creating Immigration

    'Little America' Team on Creating the Immigration Anthology Series for Apple TV Plus

    Respect and authenticity were the key words at the screening of the new Apple TV Plus series “Little America” on Thursday in Los Angeles. Produced by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon and inspired by true stories featured in Epic Magazine, “Little America” is an anthology series focused on immigration. For executive producer Sian Heder, [...]

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival - Egyptian

    Sundance 2020: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Heading to Park City? From intimate dinners and cocktail parties to late night bashes (that end just in time to head to brunch), there’s plenty to keep this year’s film festival attendees out of the cold between screenings. Here is Variety’s ultimate party guide for Sundance 2020:  Thursday, Jan. 23 “Summertime” Premiere Party Lyft Lounge, 8-11 [...]


    Jenna Andrews Hosts Zhavia Ward, Lennon Stella at Jed Foundation Fundraiser

    Jenna Andrews, the Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and executive, hosted a pre-Grammy event in partnership with The Jed Foundation at Alice and Olivia in West Hollywood on Tuesday.  The non-profit Jed is dedicated to protecting emotional health and preventing suicide. The foundation has partnered with high schools and colleges in order to “strengthen mental health, [...]

  • Coldplay - Chris Martin

    Grammys 2020: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Let the music play, indeed. The Grammys are just days away and dozens of parties are happening every night this week leading up to the big day, Sunday, Jan. 26. And the partying continues with several bashes following the ceremony. (All events listed are by invitation only unless marked otherwise; this list is being updated [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content