We interview Let Him Go star Lesley Manville about what appealed to her about her character and her approach to her performance in the film.
For those looking for some family drama in their entertainment, Let Him Go is coming to theaters on November 6. Based on the rugged Larry Watson novel of the same name, the film follows Margaret (Diane Lane) and George (Kevin Costner) as they rescue their widowed daughter-in-law and grandson from a dangerous crime family.
The matriarch of said family is played by Lesley Manville (Harlots, The Crown), who has made a glorious career out of bringing complicated women to life. The veteran actress spoke to Screen Rant about the way she approached Blanche Weboy and how she connected with her onscreen rival.
Let’s talk about Blanche for a second, because Blanche has this undeniable wicked streak. What, if anything, did you find appealing or sympathetic about the character?
Lesley Manville: Well, sympathetic? No. And I don’t need to be sympathetic to the characters; my job is to play them, whether they’re the nicest woman on Earth or the nastiest woman on Earth. So, not sympathetic because her actions are horrendous and ill-informed and not very nice.
Appealing to play her? I like the fact that she saw herself as some glamorous movie icon, and that she would have the platinum blonde and the red lips and the red nails. She thinks she’s fabulous; she thinks she’s just everything. She’s really not all of those things are very, very good to get to grips with to play. And any actress would want to do that.
And it is appealing to play a bad person. It just is. All the interviews I have done about other bad women that I’ve played, and this one included, it’s quite hard to define why. But I think probably the best thing is that it’s some kind of subconscious therapy, maybe. Because I actually do live quite a good wholesome life. So, there you go.
Blanche and Margaret mirror each other in several different ways. Can you speak about how much of that was in the script, and how much of that was intentional in yours and Diane Lane’s performances?
Lesley Manville: Well, it’s a bit of both, really. First of all, you’ve got to have good material on the page, and we did. But you can have good material on the page and two performers miss it and not quite connect with it; not quite make that [back-and-forth] thing going on. It takes something else for that.
I’m always looking for those moments, because film and television is all about clocking the small moments. And you really can do that on film, because you can get a camera right here and you can see what’s going on. And I felt also that Blanche was the kind of woman who was very much about that. Yes, she says a lot. I mean, she says too much. She talks too much; she’s too opinionated. But also she can do everything with a look.
So, there was a lot of status play going on between the characters of Margaret and Blanche. It’s status: who is Top Mama. You’ve got two mamas, kind of the same age, and they both want to be top. So, it’s ripe for really good interrogation by two actresses who are up for it. And we both were, and it was wonderful acting with her.
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