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“It was the hook,” McDormand said. “It was the power to be a very shy, slightly suspicious seventh grade student who could stand in front of a group of people and keep their attention. She also liked that female Shakespeare characters were as power-hungry as the men: “It’s like I used to say to Joel, ‘Why don’t you write better roles for women? In fact, why don’t you write a role for men and let me play it?

She had married Coen shortly after making his screen debut in the 1984 noir “Blood Simple,” which he directed with Ethan. Twelve years later, the Coen brothers would give McDormand his signature role, which could only be played by a woman: Marge, the jovial and pregnant police chief of “Fargo.”

This film made her famous, a condition McDormand saw as a fire being crushed: After hiring a publicist, she almost immediately asked him to decline most requests.

“I have made a very conscious effort not to do press and publicity for 10 years in what others think is a very dangerous time in an actress’ career, but it paid off for exactly the reasons I wanted, ”she said. “It gave me back a mystery about who I was, and then in the roles I played I was able to take an audience to a place where someone who was selling watches or perfumes and magazines didn’t. couldn’t.

For her, “Nomadland” is the culmination of this effort to keep itself intact in the public eye. “That’s why it works,” she said. “That’s why Chloe could bear to even think about doing this with me, because of what I have created over the years not just as an actor, but in my personal life.

We walked back through town, and as we walked up a hill covered in vegetation and eucalyptus, McDormand drew one last line: “So I’m going to walk past my house, then I’m going to leave you,” she said. . She asked if I had any plans for dinner and directed me to a farm stand where I could stop on the way back. “They have beautiful little gems and good ol ‘rocket,” she said, “but no eggs right now because the chickens are all cold.

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