Awards Daily talks to Mare of Easttown‘s Julianne Nicholson about what she looks for in a supporting part, what it was like looking at Kate Winslet in a scene, and what her roles in August: Osage County and Mare have in common.
Julianne Nicholson is experiencing the reviews of her career for her work as Lori on HBO’s Mare of Easttown. As a long-suffering wife and mother, Lori experiences multiple losses throughout the series, culminating in a scene of acceptance and reconciliation in the final moments of Episode 7 titled “Sacrament.”
The actress has been working steadily for more than 20 years, appearing in everything from Ally McBeal, which she fondly looks back on (“I just laughed all day long”), to Boardwalk Empire, and most recently in The Outsider on HBO last summer, where her character speculated whether her husband was a murderer of a child. Seriously, the poor woman’s characters need to pick better spouses!
I had an opportunity to chat with Nicholson about what she thinks about being the buzz of Twitter during the finale, working with her friend Kate Winslet, and why maybe she’s in need of a good comedy after playing a slew of sad characters.
*** Spoilers Ahead***
Awards Daily: Everyone was talking about you on the night of the finale. How did that feel?
JN: Thank you! It was such an incredible reception of the whole show and definitely in particular the finale. Kind of amazing.
AD: You were trending and all over the place that night! You’ve perfected the art of being an exceptional supporting character. What do you look for in supporting parts? What do you try to add as an actress?
JN: Supporting roles that have a story of their own, so they are there to support, as in the name, but also have something of their own going on, because I think that adds more authenticity to that role, more believability, if they’re not there just as a crutch for another character. And then you play it as honestly as you would if you were on screen every frame.
AD: Going into the finale, I, like many, speculated that your character was Erin’s killer. Do you think Lori could get to a place where she could do such a thing? She’s tested a lot in this show.
JN: I don’t think she could get to a place where she would do it for reasons of jealousy. I think she’s bigger than that. I had read the seventh episode when I agreed to do the show and I suddenly panicked halfway through [Episode] 7—thinking, Oh my god, is Lori just a jilted lover? Nooo! (Laughs) I think she could be pushed to that place to protect her kids, but I don’t think she’s tipping to murder.
AD: The scenes between you and Kate are great. And I read somewhere that your husband is Kate’s child’s godfather. How did having that relationship already in place, especially with kids involved, help you develop this relationship?
JN: We just have history. There’s really something to be said for that. When you’re looking across the scene at someone you’ve known, that’s helped your children, that was at your wedding, that you’ve been on holiday in Italy with, it just adds something extra. We were very fortunate to have that history, because we already had the love there. We definitely got to know each other better on this. I hadn’t seen her for 10 years or so. The trust was there, just from knowing each other in our lives. Also, I know what an amazing actress she is, so that helped the trust issue. (Laughs)
AD: I know everyone talks about the final one that’s virtually silent, but the one I’m thinking of is the one in the car. Do you think a part of Lori thinks of Mare as the fuck-up friend and her as the responsible one and that’s what makes this betrayal even more upsetting?
JN: I think they definitely live in that dynamic of Mare being the one that can spin out and make mistakes, so that makes Lori in the role of the centered one who does the right thing. I think it feels like a major betrayal.
AD: Do you think Lori ever suspected John of being with Erin? I wonder what she was doing that family reunion weekend when John was with Erin.
JN: No, I don’t think so. It’s written that she didn’t suspect any affair, so I don’t think so. I think it’s very easy for people to lie actually, and I think it’s very easy for people to get caught up in the business of their lives. Lori had a job and had a family to raise. She was busy. You can sometimes miss the little things.
AD: If Erin doesn’t die, what do you think happens between Lori and John? Do you think he ever comes clean and leaves his wife for his second cousin?
JN: I think they’d broken up, hadn’t they? If you could call it that? It sounds like he’s a serial cheater, so they weren’t out of the woods. This is all my imagination, but I don’t think he would have left Lori for Erin. I think he’s gonna mess up every step of the way, but in his mind, it’s not a good look to leave his family.
AD: While watching you take in the lovechild of your husband and his cousin, I thought how odd it was that between August: Osage County and Mare of Easttown, your character ends up in a situation involving incest. How do you end up in these acting situations? (Laughs)
JN: (Laughs) I don’t know. I think I might need to get more thoughtful about my selecting. For one, I didn’t know, when I said yes. But it’s funny. I have no idea. I feel like there’s some sort of mystery around what comes your way and then of course you say yes or no. But I feel there’s some mystery to a career and you choose what you respond to. I’ll probably have to take this one to a therapist. (Laughs)
AD: You were also great in The Outsider last year, which doesn’t involve incest, but is terribly sad. What happens to your husband (played by Jason Bateman) is awful. I hope you get to play something happy eventually.
JN: I definitely need to do something without murder. (Laughs) We’ll start there. I’m accepting all comedies at the moment.
All episodes of Mare of Easttown are available on HBOMax.