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Ann Dowd (‘Mass’) on the ‘remarkable’ and ‘spiritual’ experience of mining her character’s grief [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“It’s a remarkable experience… a spiritual one,” explains Ann Dowd of diving into her character Linda in “Mass.” The film from Fran Kranz casts the veteran actress as a woman grappling with the unthinkable: her son committed a school shooting, killing other students before turning the gun on himself. The emotional drama keeps its four central characters in one room for the majority of the film. For Dowd, mining the intense emotions of Linda’s experience proved to be a moving exploration of the possibilities of acting. Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“I was very curious about Linda,” says Dowd. “I couldn’t imagine how she was able to come to the place that she is at the start of the film.” The character enters the space desperate for connection. Linda sits beside her estranged husband Richard (Reed Birney) across from a set of parents whose son was killed in the shooting (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton). Dowd was most struck by her “willingness to continue life” after everything she knew was stripped away. “You’ve got to go to those levels of despair and grief that the role requires,” she continues, out of respect for the experiences of those who have endured the same tragedy in real life. “She broke entirely.”

SEE Jason Isaacs interview: ‘Mass’

The actress describes receiving guidance with those heavy emotions from a source outside of herself. “I was extraordinarily struck by the generosity of character to actor,” Dowd states simply, “Linda to me.” There were moments where the performer had to ask the character for a hand, in order to convey an intense experience that went beyond the actor’s imagination. “In those particular areas where the pain was too deep to understand, she was so present,” Dowd reveals, referring to Linda. “It was a profound experience.” When considering this powerful connection through the pages of a script, Dowd concludes: “in this extraordinary business of acting, all the help comes from all over the place.”

Dowd is an Emmy winner for “The Handmaid’s Tale” among her three career nominations for the Hulu drama. She was also nominated for her guest role in “The Leftovers.” She won Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review for “Compliance.” “Mass” has already garnered her a Critics Choice nomination, and the ensemble cast is receiving the Robert Altman Award at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards.

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