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Frances McDormand Reveals Why She Almost Didn’t Star in ‘Three Billboards’ — and How Joel Coen Helped Change Her Mind

The actress spoke candidly at a TIFF press conference.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Fox Searchlight

Frances McDormand is earning raves for her performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” but she almost didn’t take the part. She revealed as much during a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival moderated by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, where writer/director Martin McDonagh revealed that he wrote the part with his leading lady in mind. Watch the full conversation below.

“I wrote it for Frances about 7 or 8 years ago with Frances’ voice in my head and her past performances in my head, so we went to her a couple years after that,” said McDonagh. “If she hadn’t said yes, we’d have been screwed. I don’t know what we would have done.”

As for why the Oscar winner was initially hesitant, well, “When I first read it, I loved it, I thought Mildred was amazing. I was very flattered, but then I said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m too old,’” said McDormand. Her character is a mother who takes a stand against the local police force when her daughter is murdered and the investigation yields no results after several months.

“Because at the time he gave it to me I was 58…I was concerned that women from this socioeconomic strata did not wait until 38 to have their first child,” she added. “So we went back and forth and we debated that quite for a while, and then finally my husband said, ‘Just shut up and do it.'” Thanks for that, Joel Coen.

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