After earning her first solo SAG Award nomination this morning for her turn in Netflix’s Maid, Margaret Qualley spoke with Deadline about her experience with the series, as well as upcoming roles in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Victorian drama Poor Things, Claire Denis’ The Stars at Noon and Zachary Wigon’s thriller Sanctuary, and the status of the film Fred & Ginger from director Jonathan Entwistle, in which she’s set to play Ginger Rogers opposite Jamie Bell’s Fred Astaire.
While Spider-Man‘s Tom Holland recently announced that he will topline his own Astaire biopic for Sony, Qualley is unaware at this point of when Fred & Ginger might get made. “I don’t know, but I hope it happens soon,” she says. “I love Jamie Bell so much and I’m always trying to be typecast as a dancer, so I can just dance in everything I do.”
The actress’ most recent project, which just wrapped filming, is that of Denis, to whom she refers as a “fierce, beautiful woman.”
In three-time Oscar nominee Lanthimos’ next film Poor Things, she will star alongside Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Christopher Abbott and Ramy Youssef. Admittedly, she says, she has only a “real tiny, little part” in the film, but it was worth accepting, given the opportunity it would afford her to collaborate with one of her favorite directors. “I am the most massive fan of Yorgos,” she shares. “I think he’s just the most brilliant filmmaker.”
Then, there’s Sanctuary, an indie Qualley shot last summer. “I have nothing to say,” she comments, “other than Chris [Abbott] is such an amazing actor and I had the best time doing it.”
Qualley’s solo SAG nom for Maid in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series comes on the heels of a joint nom in 2020 as part of the cast of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. She’ll compete at this year’s ceremony with the Mare of Easttown duo of Kate Winslet and Jean Smart, as well as Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha) and Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus).
Inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, Maid saw Qualley starring alongside her mother Andie MacDowell, premiering to critical acclaim in October. In the limited series created for Netflix by Molly Smith Metzler, she portrays Alex, a young mother who escapes an abusive relationship and subsequently struggles to provide for her daughter by getting a job cleaning houses. Her turn has also thus far netted her Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominations, on the heels of her first Emmy nomination in 2019 for turn as dancer and choreographer Ann Reinking in FX’s Fosse/Verdon.
Qualley says she is “flattered and excited” by today’s recognition. “It’s a really great feeling,” she added, “when the people that you look up to see you and think you’re all right.”
The highlights of her time with Maid included getting to work with “really incredible four-year-old” Rylea Nevaeh Whittet, who played her daughter Maddy—and will “always” be in her life “if she’s up for it”—and realizing the dream of sharing the screen with her mother, in the telling of a story that’s “so heartbreakingly real and honest and important.”
Qualley feels Maid has resonated because “unfortunately,” a lot of people relate to her character. “I think that a lot of people either saw a part of themselves in Alex’s experience or somebody that they know—their mom, their sister,” she says. “The emotional abuse and domestic violence and the massive systemic flaws in the United States, and the way that poverty is overlooked, all of these things are unfortunately incredibly prominent and prevalent, and I think that’s why.”
The series from John Wells Productions, Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television also stars Nick Robinson, Xavi de Guzman, Anika Noni Rose, Tracy Vilar and Billy Burke. Metzler served as showrunner and exec produced with Land, Wells and Erin Jontow for John Wells Productions, and Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Brett Hedblom for LuckyChap Entertainment.
The SAG Awards are currently scheduled to take place on February 27.