However great you think actress Julianne Nicholson is, know that you’re wrong. She’s better than that. One of the most gifted actors working today has been working for more than 25 years, but not enough audiences or awards bodies that recognize the outstanding achievements of a given year have noticed (yet). In a video interview with Variety, Nicholson sits down to discuss her career, early influences and her experience working on HBO’s “Mare of Easttown,” which has put her heavily in the Emmy conversation for the supporting actress limited category, for her astonishing portrayal of Lori Ross.
When millions of viewers watched the final episode of HBO’s limited series “Mare of Easttown,” we witnessed the full arsenal that Nicholson has been equipped with for decades. It was the first time many noticed the Massachusetts native deliver such vulnerability. Whether it was the scene in which Lori spills into her Mare’s arms (played by her Emmy-winning co-star and executive producer Kate Winslet) or when she whales her motherly anguish after the emotional reveal of the murder, “It’s Ryan! My Ryan.” Only the most skilled thespians can convey such fragility and make it look effortless.
“I was nervous to do our final scene,” she says. “I felt like the whole story of Lori and this story culminated in that kitchen. Brad Ingelsby did a beautiful job getting us to that point. He didn’t need to overwrite dialogue to get us to that point. In the script, it was written that Lori falls to the floor, and I was terrified of doing it in any believable way. But I think it worked, ultimately.”
She loves acting. It was “The Wizard of Oz” that did her in and convinced her to go into the business. Showing sprinkles of Molly Ringwald in John Hughes’ ’80s films and Jessica Lange in “Tootsie,” her all-time favorite film, in her work, she is passionate about her work.
Nicholson’s talent was no secret to the Nicholson legion of admirers. We’ve seen her deliver bravura turn, time and time again, in films such as “Flannel Pajamas” (2006) and “August: Osage County” (2013), and on television series such as Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Character actors such as Nicholson offer an intriguing question to the industry about what it truly means to break through.
It’s a term that’s been used for newcomers, often of a younger age, and we’ve seen other examples of experienced actors like Paul Raci, who found his way to an Oscar nomination at 72 for “Sound of Metal.” Nicholson has continuously challenged herself, sliding into roles where a lead performer is only heightened by her presence, daring them to be greater. We too often dismiss character actors as “that guy” or “the girl from…” This
Nicholson had both of her children while playing Megan Wheeler in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” from iconic producer Dick Wolf. She’s also run the gamut, playing Peter Sarsgaard’s wife in Bill Condon’s “Kinsey” opposite Liam Neeson, along with portraying Margaret Qualley’s mother in Maggie Betts’ underrated “Novitiate.” Despite a colorful career that any actor would be proud to inhabit, she has not garnered the awards notoriety she’s deserved in either Emmy or Oscar capacities. Working alongside her co-stars Winslet, Jean Smart and Joe Tippet, she found comfort in their presence. As the series looks to be front-running for multiple Emmy nominations, including Nicholson herself, this could be the year that finally brings her a long overdue nomination.
With many of her most memorable television characters living under the HBO umbrella, it’s been surprising a deal hasn’t been orchestrated yet between the two entities. “They still got it,” she shares. “I love working for them and they recognize quality material and wonderful artists.”
Nicholson got the rights to the best-selling novel “Separation Anxiety” by Laura Zigman, in which she will executive produce and star. The story focuses on a woman named Judy, a wife and mother who examines her most important relationships, all textured with the feelings of insecurities through a raw and honest lens. “I’m excited to be involved with something I can sink my teeth into, and there’s no murder.”
The upcoming series is also being produced by Wiip’s Paul Lee and Mark Roybal, who also executive produced “Mare of Easttown.”
In the film world, Nicholson will next be seen in Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde,” a fictionalized telling of Marilyn Monroe from Netflix, which stars Ana de Armas as Norma Jean and Nicholson as her mother Gladys.
“Vulnerability is bravery in its purest form.” An acting phrase that Julianne Nicholson has mastered exquistely.