Frances McDormand discusses the role of elders within the entertainment industry

·3 min read

Frances McDormand has said she feels it is the “job” of “elders” within the entertainment industry to be there if younger talent need help.

The multiple Oscar-winning actress, 64, stars in The Tragedy Of Macbeth as Lady Macbeth alongside Denzel Washington, 66, who plays the murderous general.

Speaking at the closing night press conference for the BFI London Film Festival, McDormand explained how she first played the strong female character at age 14 in her school’s English class.

When asked if there was any lessons she could pass on to women in the industry as a well-established actress, she said: “Look, I have problems with my body, we all do…

“I don’t want to be anybody’s role model when it comes to that because we all have to struggle, we struggle every day.

“You have to look around, it’s not any easier for men than it is for women, I’ve watched my son who’s 27 grow up as a man, it’s not that easy.”

“But that’s our job, isn’t it Bruno, Kathryn, we’re your elders”, she emphasised while referring to the film’s cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel and Kathryn Hunter, who plays all of the witches and the old man in the adaptation.

McDormand added: “If you need help from an elder, you’ve got to be able to recognise us, so if we look like you, you’re not going to be able to find us.

“So it’s really important that we keep hold of that ark of continuity with the human species, it’s our job, and not to think that it’s easy, ever.

“I think that the story we told in this production is part of that too, and the fact that we did it together is a part of that story, the fact that Denzel and I were part of the story (too).”

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Premiere – BFI London Film Festival 2017
Frances McDormand stars as Lady Macbeth in the latest adaptation (Matt Crossick/PA)

McDormand won the best actress award at the 2021 Oscars for her role in Nomadland, as well as in 2018 for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and for Fargo in 1997.

The Shakespearean adaptation is shot in black-and-white and explores the descent into madness of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Cinematographer Delbonnel explained the monotone style choice was to place the focus on Shakespeare’s text over the visual imagery.

He added: “There was an idea that the image shouldn’t compete with the language, it was just to say, ‘Shakespeare is first’, and even if it’s untranslatable, it was really about the language.”

The Tragedy Of Macbeth was adapted and directed by Joel Coen, and is unusual as it is the first film directed by one of the Coen brothers without the other’s involvement.

The 89th Academy Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles
Denzel Washington plays the murderous Macbeth (Ian West/PA)

Coen, who has previously created 1996’s Fargo and 2018’s The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs, noted that certain themes within the film related to his previous work and the modern-day world.

“It is interesting how much of the play prefigures 20th century American noir tropes, both in movies and in literature, (like) in certain acts of plotting the murder,” he explained.

“So I guess in that respect it wasn’t foreign territory, but pretty much in every other respect it was.”

The film also stars The Walking Dead’s Corey Hawkins as Macduff, The Queen’s Gambit’s Moses Ingram as Lady Macduff and Irish actor Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan.

It is scheduled for a limited theatrical release in December before arriving on the Apple TV+ streaming service in January.

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