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Interview: Ann Dowd on Her Oscar-Worthy Performance in ‘Mass’

Ann Dowd is about as great an actress as it gets. Whether you’ve seen her on the big screen with Compliance, Garden State, and a host of other films, or on the small screen with things like The Handmaid’s Tale (which won her an Emmy Award) and The Leftovers, she’s always terrific. Now with Mass, she has her best role to date, courtesy of actor turned filmmaker Fran Kranz. Pairing Dowd with Reed Birney, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton, the results were truly staggering. Rightly, she getting a ton of Academy Award buzz and may well be the frontrunner in Best Supporting Actress. I spoke to Kranz here, and now, it’s time to present my conversation with Dowd. Trust me, it’s a good one, and I’m proud to bring it to you today.

Below, you can hear my discussion with Dowd. She’s a wonderful human being, and that really does come across in the chat. I reference a Q&A she was a part of last month, promoting Mass in front of some Oscar voters. Her candor and tenderness truly was something you rarely see at events like that. She gives you more of the same here. Your heart feels full after talking to Dowd. I hope you get as much out of this as I did.

In case you didn’t read my rave review out of the Sundance Film Festival, here is a bit of my thoughts on the movie:

The four principle characters in Mass are individuals you hope you never have to personally identify with. They’re each going through incredible grief and pain, having suffered unimaginable loss. The cost and toll on themselves has been terrible. There isn’t even necessarily a light at the end of the tunnel. And yet, they go on, because they must. The emotions of that feeling are brilliantly captured in this film, easily the best movie I’ve seen this year at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. What writer/director Fran Kranz, along with his cast, achieves here is nothing short of staggering. It may prove to be difficult to convince audiences to seek this one out, but if handled correctly, it’s an awards player down the line.

These are four of the best performances you’ll see in 2021. Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton never once hit a wrong note. Dowd, Isaacs, and Plimpton especially have some strong showcases in the second half. Birney stays more composed than the other three, doing some heavy lifting in his own way, but it’s no less of a remarkable turn. At the same time, this is arguably the best work from everyone in the cast. Dowd is maternal and kind, belying the boy she raised. Isaacs is all passion, needing to find answers and confessions. Then, there’s Plimpton, who enters unsure if she can forgive these people. Watching her face as she takes everything in will break your heart. Isaacs’ fury will stick with you, but so too will some of Plimpton’s final moments. Each of them leaves a mark, to be sure.

Bleecker Street

Here now is my interview with Mass star Ann Dowd. Enjoy:

Mass is in theaters this weekend!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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