7 Questions With Margo Martindale

Margo Martindale Craig Blakenhorn/FX

Say Margo Martindale’s name and people automatically say: “I love her!” Then an interesting response kicks in. Which show will they cite? When answering our “7 Questions,” Martindale was on three shows: The Americans on FX (the series finale was in May), Sneaky Pete, streaming on Amazon, and The Good Fight on CBS All Access. Martindale had also just finished shooting a movie and was starting another the next day with Tiffany Haddish.

“I have never been this busy,” says Martindale, who has won three Emmys.

To those who have said a woman, especially one in Hollywood, can’t get hired after age 40, Martindale, 67, says, “Haha!” Talking from her Connecticut home, where she lives with her husband, William Boals, a tenor who sings religious music, Martindale says she is often cast as a grouchy woman, and for that she’s grateful.

  1. What were a few of your first jobs before you got into acting?

In high school, I worked teaching drama in a mental institution for criminally insane men. The only thing my mother said was, “Do not tell your father!” I didn’t ever see much difference between me and them. And another job I had was as a private investigator. I did a play at night in New York and was a waiter during the day.

  1. What’s a movie you can watch over and over again and never tire of?

Any romantic comedy. I am a very shallow in that way. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and Doris Day and Rock Hudson, anything.

  1. What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?

Light, diet bread, 99 percent fat-free turkey and fruit. I love food, but I like good food. Last night I made ground chicken and tomatoes and onions and zucchini all in a chili with black beans and corn.

  1. Tell us about a time you were starstruck.

Paul Newman. We were rehearsing for Nobody’s Fool at Carnegie Hall. [Director] Robert Benton and I were rehearsing, and Paul Newman was sitting next to me, and I could not speak. Then they brought lunch, but I could not eat next to Paul Newman. Then we did another film [1998’s Twilight],  and during that movie Robert Benton really liked me and we were doing reshoots and Paul Newman had seen the rough cut and came in to my dressing room, and then we were companions in acting. He came in to see me on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

  1. If you could invite a handful of people to a dinner party, who would they be?

My brother Tim, my mother, my Larlar — my mother’s best friend and [my] second mother. I would rather just have people I know, except maybe somebody like C.S. Lewis. I like his Christian books.

  1. What was your biggest splurge?

I remember the first pilot I got, and I thought I was rich, rich! I used to go to shops and stare at the couches, and once I got this pilot and I went and looked at couches, it wasn’t nearly as much fun knowing I could buy one. When I did The Millers on CBS, I could lease a car. I rented one for the whole first season. It was a Lexus, and it was lovely. And we had a rental house in Studio City. This is a rental, where we will be for 22 weeks. I bought curtains. They were custom made — for $12,000! I have never been so foolish in my life! I almost threw up on custom-made curtains, and then Season 2 was canceled. After 12 episodes, I sold the curtains to the landlady at half price.

  1. What is your most treasured possession?

My treasured possession is my family, of course. A rocking chair that was my grandmother’s and mother’s. My nephew went and had it redone, and it is the most beautiful thing. It is an old wicker rocker with a magazine holder on the side.