Frances McDormand talks her love for ‘rhythmic profanity’ — and reveals her favorite curse word

Yes, but with correct actions being the operative word. Merrick Morton/Fox Searchlight
Tell me about the dialogue in the film. I’ll totally tell you if I don’t like a crew. It behooves Martin, like Joel and Ethan, to cast theatrically trained actors because we understand dramaturgically where we fit in the script. I think in some places it might be a little too American Gothic, which maybe he didn’t always intend it to be. I told him, “Well, isn’t that idiotic?”
How did you compromise? Well, I wasn’t sure about the script but I loved the character. And also, you know,   it’s perfect for me to do about one or two projects a year. To read more from our Fall Movie Preview,   buy it here. And that’s not hyperbole. You can read their scripts like a play and you can publish them as a screenplay. McDormand, who won an Oscar 20 years ago for Fargo, joined EW for an unfiltered chat about working and   cursing. Martin’s idea, as a male writer, was that a grandmother wouldn’t fight that hard for her grandchild as a mother would for her child. They call it “red.”
We can definitely tell that you’re playing another quite unapologetic character. Three years ago on HBO’s miniseries   Olive Kitteridge, Frances McDormand reminded everyone that she’s one of   the smartest, toughest, no-nonsense actors in the world. And once I did, we never talked about it again. Sure, we’d often debate lines and profanity. I don’t think he’s that irresponsible. I have no interest in playing anything younger than 59, which is how old I was when we shot it. That’s why I mean it’s more theatrical. I swear a lot, I always have. That was really fun. 10. The words help me with the beats of the physical action. So it’s slightly despicable. What’s your favorite curse word? Also, on Three Billboards, there were also some personal bests going on. I just wasn’t interested in making people believe I’m any younger than I am. I’ve never heard that one. Yeah, I like it. I was driving and I was talking and synching it up with the camera. Profanity helps with that. Well, finally I was advised by someone very close to me to just shut up and do the movie. Now that I’m 60 it’s a lot easier for me not to work than it was when I was younger. But Martin wrote it three years ago. But it worked. It’s also a rhythmic thing. But it’s magical realism. So does my husband. The extremely bold first trailer for the film had recently debuted on the internet — and that’s where the conversation with McDormand began. I met him   about 15 years ago, when I saw his play The Pillowman on Broadway. What’s interesting is that his plays are all informed by cinema and now the cinema he’s doing is informed by his theatrical writing. No, that would be me appropriating a very serious conversation that’s happening between the black community and the police force. Don’t forget to   subscribe   for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW. The crew on Three Bilboards, by the way, is one of the best I’ve ever worked with. I think that will be commented upon a lot once people see it in 2017 America. But I don’t think that’s what he’s promoting. Well, the Molotov cocktail, for example. Every one of the “yas” were scripted. Because I have a lot of other things I like to do, like take cross-country road trips and work on local politics in the town I live in. What kind of props? There’s connective tissue between that performance and the profane, provocative new comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Extraordinary work by Ben Davis, the cinematographer. I say “Jesus tits” a lot. We argued for three months. Yeah, yeah. Did you disagree about some of the dialogue? He’s a true a true blue playwright in the old fashioned, delicious sense of just full-blown complex characters and themes. I also think that Martin’s not a filmmaker — he’s a great student of film and he surrounds himself with great filmmakers. I’m from working-class, blue-collar America, and   I don’t believe that people   in that socioeconomic strata wait until they’re 40 to have children. But no, I will say there’s a lot of waiting for the good ones to come along, like Mildred. And then in other circumstances, we’d shoot it his way and he’d edit it the way I had suggested. Collaboration. 4 in competition at the Venice Film Festival and opens in theaters on Nov. But well-chosen, rhythmic profanity. I said, “Hey, maybe you should write me a part.” And that’s something I don’t normally say because I’ve watched actors struggle while saying that to Joel [McDormand’s husband] and Ethan [Coen] for 35 years. Or blueprints for some visual idea. I had to flip it over and that’s not easy to do because it clings to your fingers. Possibly. And there’s a beetle in the beginning of the film, who unfortunately had a broken leg. So   I did. So we worked it out and did not waste valuable time. Not unlike Joel and Ethan, in that their scripts are fully formed. Rhythm   is important in profanity, right? Let me tell you something. Our son, surprisingly, does not swear much at all. There’s   a quote by Red Auerbach, the basketball coach of the Boston Celtics: “The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology.” That’s   a motto for me. For instance, I think it’s the best thing that Sam Rockwell has ever done on film. Director Martin McDonagh wrote Mildred especially for you? I got a real taste for it after Olive Kitteridge. FRANCES McDORMAND:   Yes, yes. Ah, that definitely seems to click with your choices. If you wouldn’t mind. That’s so delicious for actors, especially ones like myself and Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, who all do theater. We were blowing up real Molotov cocktails. No, he’s not. What can I say? He’s an anarchist and I think he believes in anarchy. Maybe those conversations are going to happen around Three Billboards. He wrote it for me, yep. But that did not enter into my professional life. That’s a perfect example of how Martin uses profanity. They don’t need actors’ improvisation. That’s not what explicitly he intended. The movie marks the third directorial effort by famed Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, after In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. How did you two get along? Amazing props. Hmm, well. I’m not really that interested in going back to playing small supporting roles. It really pops and it’s so alive. I would say   three-quarters of the time he would just shut it down and say, “Do it the way it’s written.” Then some of the time he saw the benefits of trying it my way. Did you sense that there was political resonance in the film while you were filming it? So, you know, there you go. Is he a polemicist? It’s like a musical score. But Romain Gateau, who worked in the props department, stood there and worked out how to act with the beetle. I would say, “I don’t think this sounds like a person speaking.” Or “I want to flip these two sentences.” Or “I want to take out this verb.” Martin was open to the conversation, usually. The film premieres Sept. Unless it a f—ing good one and filming on a great location. And also from playing Lady Macbeth onstage in the past year [at Berkeley Repertory Theatre]. Or “mother-motherf—er.”   It’s kind of like the “Ya, ya, ya” scene in Fargo. But I also felt that, at 59, I was too old for the part. So you can please publish that, because I’d like people to know. I’m driving by and yelling out the window of the car at the reporter. Yes, almost every single day. So I told Martin that he should make Mildred a grandmother of a teenage girl who was killed, not a mother. It’s a beautiful sequence of words strung together and it was really timed to the second. Do you think McDonagh was drawn to you because of your affinity for the stage? ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:   Your new movie has an amazing trailer. Absolutely, will do. I believe you. Show Full Article Courtesy of TIFF
And what did you think when you read the script? McDormand stars as Mildred, a furious mother avenging her daughter’s   murder by taunting the town sheriff (Woody Harrelson) and a bigoted cop (Sam Rockwell) with inflammatory messages on billboards near her home. Martin and I would say, “Well, does she need to say ‘motherf—er” or should it just be “f—ker”? It works. Privately, I have my own politics about that. If you take, for example, that bit at the end of the red band trailer.