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The Reeler Blog

Amy Ryan Gets Involved

All eyes on her: Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone (Photo: Miramax FIlms)

By John Oursler

As recently as three years ago Amy Ryan was little more than an extra in Steven Spielberg's gaudy War of the Worlds, credited only as "Neighbor with toddler." Now on the cusp of stardom with an Academy Award nomination for her role in Ben Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, she visited her hometown of Queens on Monday to discuss the film and her character at the Museum of the Moving Image.

"She's not the greatest woman out there, or the greatest mother out there," she said of Helene McCready, the vulgar, drug-addled mother of a missing girl in South Boston. "But I couldn't wait to start working on the character. I like characters that scare me a little bit. In a way, I felt like I understood her. I couldn't wait to get involved."

Knowing that her multifaceted portrayal could have bordered on caricature, Ryan compassionately balanced the character's vulnerability and confidence throughout. She noted that co-star Ed Harris sensed the entire film hinged upon Helene's believability. "When I first met Ed Harris in Boston, I shook hands with him and he said, 'That's some part you've got there,"' Ryan recalled. "It was really like a line in the sand -- like, 'Try to keep up.' It was friendly, but a gentle warning." Affleck later echoed Harris' remarks by divulging the proverbial elephant in the room: "'If your part doesn't work the whole film doesn't work. Good luck!"

Having won Best Supporting Actress awards from film critics' organizations in both New York and Boston, Ryan is considered a front-runner in her category this Sunday. When asked who among her fellow nominees gave the "second best" performance in her category, she paused. "Art and competition is a strange thing," she finally replied. "It's almost like a political campaign [in] the months before the awards. You see the other actors at these parties, and you become comrades to each other. It's exhausting and its nerve-wracking. I told my dad that whoever's name is called will just be the spokesperson for the group."

Posted at February 19, 2008 11:49 AM

Comments (1)

This review is spot-on.

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