Frances McDormand

American actress

Frances Louise McDormand (born Cynthia Ann Smith, 23 June 1957) is a widely acclaimed American actress.

I’m not an actor because I want my picture taken. I’m an actor because I want to be part of the human exchange.


We are a bunch of hooligans and anarchists but we do clean up nice. … And now I want to get some perspective. … Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell … I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: "inclusion rider".
  • It is impossible to maintain one's composure in this situation. What am I doing here? — especially considering the extraordinary group of women with whom I was nominated. We five women were fortunate to have the choice, not just the opportunity but the choice, to play such rich, complex female characters. And I congratulate producers like Working Title and Polygram for allowing directors to make autonomous casting decisions based on qualifications and not just market value. And I encourage writers and directors to keep these really interesting female roles coming — and while you're at it you can throw in a few for the men as well.
  • I don't show up all the time. I only show up when I can and when I want to, but I was there at the Golden Globes and it's almost like there was an arc that started there. It doesn't end here. But I think publicly — as a commercial (because that's what we are, this is not a — this is not — this is not a novel — this is a TV show after all) — but I think that the message that we're getting to send to the public is that we're going to be one of the small industries that try to make a difference.
    • On the forms of social activism evident in the film industry's awards shows, in her 90th Oscars backstage interview (4 March 2018)

The New York Times interview (2017)

"Frances McDormand’s Difficult Women" by Jordan Kisner, in The New York Times (3 October 2017)
  • We’re avant-garde. It doesn’t mean we have to be unhygienic.
  • I was never that involved in the machine of press and publicity as an actor because I’ve always kind of worked on the margins of my profession … And then when my son was younger and it did get a little bit more intrusive, I tried to come to terms with how I was personally going to handle someone coming up to me on the street and wanting some part of my time. … Now what I do — because this is how I live — when someone approaches me and says, "Can I have your autograph," I say: "No, I’ve retired from that part of the business. I just act now." … I say: "What’s your name?" … I touch them. I look at them. I have a real exchange … I’m not an actor because I want my picture taken. I’m an actor because I want to be part of the human exchange.
  • My politics are private, but many of my feminist politics cross over into my professional life. Because I portray female characters — so I have the opportunity to change the way people look at them. Even if I wasn’t consciously doing that, it would happen anyway, just because of how I present as a woman, or as a person. I present in a way that’s not stereotypical, even if I’m playing a stereotypical role. … I can’t subtract that from myself anymore. I could when I was younger. … That’s another great thing about getting older. Your life is written on your face.

Quotes about McDormand

  • Frances McDormand, or Fran, as she is called in regular life, cuts a handsome figure on the street. She is 60 and sexy in the manner of women who have achieved total self-possession. She eschews makeup unless she is working, doesn’t dye her hair and despises the nips, tucks and lifts that have become routine for women of her profession. Her clothes are well made — she loves clothes — but utilitarian and comfortable. … Over the course of her 36-year career, McDormand has played women who are attractive but rarely beautiful, magnetic but thorny — and, she notes, they’re usually the supporting player in a man’s story. To this day she is best known for Marge, but Marge had much less screen time than people remember. Her slightly daffy good-heartedness serves as the foil for the murderous men who occupy most of Fargo … In the last 10 years, something shifted for McDormand: Right as she hit the age when most actresses begin disappearing for lack of roles or moving to the edges of story lines, she moved to first billing. For decades, she excelled at the work of embroidering the lives of women who aren’t deemed appealing enough to watch for two hours straight, and rather than aging into a different acting type, she has taken it upon herself to put peripheral women at the center.
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