You gained attention for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” playing a retreating, nervous character. But your roles on “The Leftovers” and “Fargo” are much more assertive. Does either strand more closely reflect the real you?
Well, as an actor you never want to think of yourself as having limitations. We like to think of the limitations coming from someone in Hollywood who lacks imagination. But my family used to call me Messy Bessy when I was young. Just the other day, I was in a restaurant, and I knocked the olive oil bottle into a glass of water. There’s olive oil everywhere and water everywhere and glass. The waiter just couldn’t imagine how it happened. Tracy just shook his head because he’s so used to it.
You knew going into this season of “The Leftovers” that it would be its last. Did you have time to nurse concerns that another role wouldn’t soon come your way?
When I was in grad school, my grandmother was always sending me clippings from the newspaper. And I remember she sent me a quote, from the entertainment section of The Akron Beacon Journal. Basically — I’m paraphrasing — it said: “You just don’t know if you’re ever going to work again. Dame Judi Dench.” I said, “Ah, this anxiety never goes away.”
Going back to when you were doing “Virginia Woolf,” did that experience change things for you?
Yeah, I met my husband in that play. It changed my life.
What about professionally?
I just feel like somebody who’s still trying to get jobs. It doesn’t feel different to me. Now I’m on a list of 12 actresses instead of 22, and I’m 12th, instead of 22nd. I’m not No. 1 or No. 2.
Did your role as Ben Affleck’s levelheaded sister in “Gone Girl” help?
The fact that opportunity in “Gone Girl” opened up — I made a tape in my living room in Chicago, and I went to New Orleans for a…