Ann Dowd on Getting Recognized in Unusual Ways, and What Drew Her to ‘Mass’

·3-min read

Ann Dowd is best known for her iconic, Emmy-winning role as Aunt Lydia on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but she doesn’t always get recognized right away.

Dowd recalls one particular encounter at an airport. “This one woman was fierce,” she told Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. “It was like we had met in court and I was guilty and she was going to find me and now she finally did.” After parting, Dowd went down an escalator and the woman chased her: “She’s going backwards down the darn thing. And she says, ‘You’re the – I know who you are!’ And then she got down off that escalator and she almost ran!”

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It’s a testament to the actor, who can now be seen in a very different role in “Mass,” which opens this weekend. Listen to our interview with her in the latest edition of Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast below:

“Mass,” shot in two weeks, details two couples – one played by Dowd and Reed Birney, the other by Martha Plimpton and Jason Isaacs – who agree to meet one afternoon. It soon becomes apparent that one couple lost their son in a school shooting, and the other couple are the parents of the shooter. “Mass” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and awards buzz.

The film was written, directed and produced by Fran Kranz, who most know for his work as an actor. Though Dowd had never met him, she did see him opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman on Broadway in “Death of a Salesman.” It was receiving his screenplay that made her instantly agree.

“I was knocked out by the script,” she says. “Never a question of will you do it, will you not. Of course, I’m honored to be asked.”

Dowd talks about the experience of making the film, why she avoids social media, her take on a potential IATSE strike and why she has yet to see “Mass” itself. In addition to discussing “Mass,” Dowd details being approached by strangers on a regular basis. “Some people will come up and say, ‘I know you. Where did you go to school?’” she says. “And I know where it’s going, but I’m not sure what to do about it.”

Also in this episode: “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement” director Joe Wright re-imagines Cyrano de Bergerac and his heartbreaking love triangle in a new take on the timeless tale. Peter Dinklage is Cyrano, who is convinced that his appearance renders him unworthy of the love of a devoted friend, Roxanne (Haley Bennett). As Cyrano struggles to declare his feelings for her, Roxanne has fallen in love, at first sight, with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).

Variety’s Clayton Davis recently spoke with Wright about his new take on the story, based on the stage musical adapted by Erica Schmidt.

And in the Variety Awards Circuit Roundtable, we discuss IATSE, “No Time to Die” and much more.

Variety’s Oscars edition of the “Awards Circuit” podcast is hosted by Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Jenelle Riley and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in movies. Each week during Oscar season, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday.

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