Michelle McLeod talks about starring in the Oscar-winning film ‘Women Talking’

Michelle McLeod of ‘Women Talking.’ Photo Credit: Calyssa Loraine

Actress Michelle McLeod chatted about starring in the Oscar-winning movie ‘Women Talking.”

Aside from McLeod, the all-star cast includes Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Ben Whishaw, and three-time “Best Actress” Oscar winner Frances McDormand. “Sheila and I both live in Toronto, she was my mentor in school 10 years ago, and then, we did this movie together and she is playing my mom, so it was a nice comforting feeling to have Sheila there because she is somebody that I looked up to,” McLeod said.

“Frances McDormand is the queen,” she exclaimed. “Could you have imagined getting a call from your agent and hearing that you will be in a movie with Frances McDormand? That is insane. She is the queen and a boss lady. I love her strength, confidence, and she is completely unapologetically herself. She is driven and she makes moves, that is something to be inspired by.”

“Being a part of this film was the most amazing thing ever,” she exclaimed. “What a great cast to be with, and to see where this movie has gone and its journey is such a prideful thing for me. I am super-honored that this movie is getting talked about.”

The movie was written and directed by Sarah Polley, who won the 2023 Academy Award for “Best Adapted Screenplay.” It was also nominated for the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture of the Year.” “For ‘Best Picture,’ we lost to an amazing film, and just the fact that our movie made the Top 10 for an Oscar nomination is a reward. It was the little engine that could and I am so grateful for that,” she said.

“Sarah Polley is the most amazing leader you could ever ask for. She is so genuine, empathetic, kind, smart, experienced and she is so visual as well. Sarah was the perfect person to be at the helm of this movie,” she said.

“I was so proud to see Sarah up there accepting her Oscar for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay.’ I was honored to be a part of something that she has done,” she added

The synopsis is: In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Do nothing, stay and fight, or leave.

She played the character Mejal Loewen, whom she was drawn to for many reasons.
Mejal is Mariche’s contemplative, patient, chain-smoking younger sister who
commands a wisdom beyond her years. “I love the fact that Mejal is the strong, silent type,” she admitted. “I also loved how we were able to expand the mental health aspect of it all through the trauma. That really hits home to me and I consider myself to be a mental health advocate.”

“Also, being a part of a cast with women in general was perhaps the best experience I’ve ever had,” she added.

For her acting work in “Women Talking,” she scored a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nomination for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.” “That was a surreal moment for sure. Isn’t that crazy?” she said.

On the title of the current chapter of her life, McLeod said with a sweet laugh, “I’m Leveling Up.” “I will be doing a new TV show, where I get to show my comedic side,” she hinted. “It’s all about having fun and I am looking forward to the future. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what opportunities come up.”

The digital age

On being an actress in the digital age, McLeod said, “Honestly, there are ups and downs to that whole process. At the end of the day, the whole goal as an actor is to be out there in mediums, and to be seen, and to also be a part of different stories.”

“With more streaming platforms, there are more opportunities for us to do more projects, and that gives actors more experience. Technology makes things completely more accessible. I am all for it.”

Regarding her future plans. McLeod would like to “keep her feet moving.” “I am looking forward to whatever comes next. I love acting, this is the dream,” she said.

Advice for hopefuls

For young and aspiring actors, McLeod said, “Never give up, this is a roller coaster, and the best thing you can do is to keep yourself inspired. If acting is for you, then you will do it.”

She listed Steve Carell as her dream acting partner. “I do admire Steve Carell, he is my favorite actor and he has had such an interesting journey with his career. He has made such an impact with his films and his shows. I am just so in awe of him,” she said.

Regarding her definition of the word success, she said, “Success is keeping a positive outlook on things, and never giving up on your dreams.”

McLeod concluded about “Women Talking,” “I hope people start talking about the actual movie, and things that concern them in their own lives. The whole point of this movie is to not break up the patriarchy but to elevate the matriarchy. Also, draw a perspective in various senses. Even though the movie is about women, it doesn’t need to be meaningful to just only women. It can be meaningful to people in various ways. If you leave the theater having a conversation with someone about this film, then we have ultimately, accomplished our goal.”

To learn more about Michelle McLeod, follow her on Instagram and check out her IMDb page.

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