Faith Hill will never forget one of her earliest auditions.
She read for director Anthony Minghella for 2003’s “Cold Mountain” for the role that went to Natalie Portman. “I read, I believe, the rape scene and another one. It was intense,” Hill tells me on the new episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “I had been on a few readings, but nothing like that.”
Not that she didn’t do her homework beforehand.
“I worked my tail off to be prepared for that,” Hill said. “Because for me, personally, I thought I have got to prove myself… This is serious work. It is a craft that needs to be respected.”
While rejection is never easy, Minghella softened the blow by encouraging her to continue to pursue acting. “He sent me the most incredible letter after the reading,” she revealed. “It was almost three pages long, handwritten.”
Yes, she still has the letter.
Another role that Hill came close to doing was on Broadway. She says she was asked to play Mary Poppins in a production of the musical many years ago but her schedule prevented it from happening.
“Everyone calls me Mary Poppins. My kids do because, honey, when I go traveling, I got that bag and I pull stuff out and I go, ‘Shoot, I didn’t realize that bag held so much,’” Hill said. “I pack for the apocalypse when we’re traveling, when we’re road tripping. But that’s not why I wanted do Mary Poppins. It’s a great story. It just wasn’t the right time.”
Hill’s latest work in front of the camera is playing Margaret Dutton opposite her real-life husband Tim McGraw as James Dutton in “1883,” Taylor Sheridan’s Paramount+ limited series spinoff of “Yellowstone.”
“1883” takes place shortly after the Civil War as James moves his family west in hopes of finding a better life. The production was anything but glamorous. The dirt and cold weather seen on screen were as real as real can be. It wasn’t exactly Method, but Hill tried to imagine what it was like on the frontier. “You just think about trying to stay warm and not get sick and not get killed,” she said “Not get run over by a wagon!”
Hill admits that McGraw was a lot more comfortable shooting their much talked-about bathtub scene, where Margaret is shown shaving James’ unruly beard. “That was tough, although [the crew] made it comfortable. Taylor made it comfortable for us — well, for me,” Hill recalled. “Tim was like, ‘Let’s do it. Yeah. Jump in. I’m ready to go. Don’t need to cover that up. Just let everybody see.’”
You can hear the full interview with Hill above. You can also listen to “Just for Variety” at Apple podcasts or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.