Friday, December 2, 2011

Margo Martindale

It occurs to me, from time to time, that most of what is written about Hollywood is about actors.  I have written about many actors, and very few actresses.  I should spend more time with actresses, or rather writing about them.

I was rambling through IMDb, as I am prone to do, and came across Days of Thunder (1990), The Rocketeer (1991), The Firm (1993), and Sabrina (1995).  An odd selection of movies that are somehow similar in quality.  Not great movies, but good movies.  And all have Margo Martindale (b. 1951) in perfect Bit Parts.  She has speaking lines in all of them, but not a major role in any.

Honestly, I don't remember her in her first film, Days of Thunder.  It was a racing movie with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  Margo's part must have been very small.  Her next time on the big screen was The Rocketeer, that I wrote about a few days ago.  She played Millie the waitress, and was perfectly cast.  She looks like a waitress.

She had a better part in Lorenzo's Oil (1992) and a better starring cast with Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon.  Then, Nobody's Fool (1994) with Paul Newman, and Sabrina (the remake in 1995) with Harrison Ford.  It is interesting to see that she made multiple movies with many of the big names, which means she must be in demand.  Four with Nicole Kidman, three with Susan Sarandon, two with Meryl Streep, two starring Tom Cruise, etc.

Forward a few years to Practical Magic (1998) with Sandra Bullock and Kidman again.  Here she played a housewife who is a non-believer in magic, but comes around in the end.  In 2002 Margo has a small role in The Hours, but that movie stars Meryl Streep (and Kidman again), and anything with Meryl Streep has got to be good.  I haven't seen The Hours, but it should be on my list.

Million Dollar Baby (2004) a boxing film about a woman (Hilary Swank) and her trainer, Clint Eastwood.  That movie won four Oscars.  And more recently you can see Margo in Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) if you really want to, and Secretariat (2010). 

She also worked on television in several movies and had regular roles on "100 Centre Street," "The Riches," "Dexter," "Mercy," "Justified," and "A Gifted Man."

A slight Texas twang in her voice and a presence on screen that just makes you love her.  Margo Martindale is a perfect Bit Actress.  You'll recognize her every time you see her.


  1. A great choice for a post. Margo Martindale is a wonderful actress, the modern equivalent of the character actors and actresses who enlivened so many studio movies in the 30s-50s. I first became aware of her in "The Riches" then noticed her popping up everywhere I looked! Her role as the psycho hillbilly crime Ma in "Justified" was tremendously enjoyable and really gave her the opportunity to show what a subtle actress she is.

  2. Not only subtle, but quite versatile. Thanks for the comment.

  3. She is amazing - thanks for a post about her. Her performance on "Justified" was wonderful.

  4. I must admit, I haven't seen all of Margo's work. I had better hit the Netflix queue for Justified.


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