In John Krasinski’s comedy-drama The Hollars, veteran actress Margo Martindale delivers another of her indelible performances as the matriarch of a Midwestern family. Her character’s illness (she’s diagnosed with a brain tumor in one of the first scenes) is the engine that drives the film, but Martindale imbues the role with brightness and humor.
For fans of her work, the movie offers a chance to see a lot of Martindale onscreen. Though a supporting role — and one that you could likely be hearing about come awards season — she probably has more total minutes of face time in The Hollars than she’s ever had in a movie.
Martindale’s a two-time Emmy winner for her work on TV’s Justified and The Americans, but her work in films consists mostly of one or two scene parts, like as Hilary Swank’s mother in Million Dollar Baby. So she wasn’t surprised when director Alexander Payne, who nine years ago gave her an absolute gem of a role as a Colorado postal worker visiting Paris in his seven-minute short film in the anthology Paris Je T’aime, called to offer her a tiny part in his next film.
“Alexander told me, ‘Margo, I have a small part for you,'” Martindale tells EW. “He said, ‘I wish it was a big part but it’s a small part.’ I said, ‘That’s okay.’ And he said, ‘I’m telling you, it’s very, very, very small.’”
How small is it? Martindale bursts out laughing. “Five inches,” she screams.
The movie is called Downsizing, a satire Payne and cowriter Jim Taylor (Election, Sideways) have been working on for a decade. Matt Damon stars as a Nebraska man who decides to have himself shrunk to the size of a tiny action figure, following a growing global trend of people who want to live smaller. Kristen Wiig plays Damon’s wife.
Martindale, 65, doesn’t elaborate on her character in the film, except to say what a thrill it was to be involved in the first big special effects extravaganza of her career.
“It’s going to be so fantastic,” she says. “I got to act on a hydraulic lift in front of a green screen. And I got to act with Matt Damon — kind of. It was just a cardboard cutout of his eyes, which were there as a reference for the special effects guys. That was something different and wonderful for me.”
The film is still in production and not currently scheduled for release until 16 months from now, on Christmas Day 2017. But get ready to look for Martindale — you might need to squint — when it comes out.
The Hollars opens in theaters Aug. 26. Check out the trailer below.