Interview: Julianne Nicholson talks fan theories and tonight’s shocking finale of ‘Mare of Easttown’
If you are just now learning about Julianne Nicholson, where have you been? Nicholson is one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood with a resume of fantastic performances ranging from Boardwalk Empire, August Osage County, Kinsey, I Tonya, Master of Sex, and more. Next year, she can be seen in the highly anticipated release, Blonde, the Marilyn Monore biopic starring Ana de Armas. In Mare of Easttown, Nicholson plays Lori Ross, a mother whose life is in shambles and only worsens as the truth about who killed Erin is finally revealed. Nicholson and Winslet are dynamite together, and the finale is nothing short of a master class.
We were lucky enough to speak with this talented actress days before the finale aired (yes, we were sworn to secrecy) and provided some insight into one what will be the most talked-about six minutes on television this year.
Dewey Singleton: Ms. Nicholson, I’ve seen the finale, and you blew me away.
Julianne Nicholson: Thank you, Dewey … Thank you!
DS: When you read what was coming up for you in episode 7, how does prepare for that emotional lifting you had to do.
JN: Yeah, it was a little bit challenging because we shot all of these episodes out of sequence. We were shooting some of those later scenes in the first month of filming. Really it was about keeping track of logistically when things were taking place and what the audience knew at that point. Those big scenes can be stressful, especially when you know they’re coming like that scene with Mare and Lori in the kitchen… I felt nervous going into that. So much was leading up to that moment, but it was beautifully written. I really felt I knew who Lori was at that point. Craig was a wonderful director, and of course, I had Kate right across from me. I think everyone knew that day going in what had to occur.
DS: The last sequence is six minutes of silence, yet both Mare and Lori have never been more clear to each other. Is that a challenge as an actor to pull off?
JN: For me, those scenes are easier to pull. You see, Brad is a beautiful writer, that’s why I wanted to be part of this show, but he’s also not precious at all about his words. So he was regularly saying, if you want to say something else .. just let me know. For me, as a performer and an audience member, I would rather see someone have an experience rather than tell me with their words. Luckily everyone was open to that.
DS: When did you find out who killed Erin?
JN: Before we had started filming, I knew what was coming.
DS: Were you one of the few?
DS: Wow! Was it just you and Kate?
JN: No, I think because we filmed out of order, certain people had to know that say were the killer or had an affair, but I don’t think episode 7 as a whole ever went out. It was kept on a need-to-know basis and even then kept to the very last moment. I think it was good for the show not having everyone know on set.
DS: So I’m going, to be honest with you, I had you pegged as Erin’s Killer.
JN: (Laughs) Dewey, for a moment, I had me pegged as the killer after I had read the scripts. I thought the same thing. No one told me. I was so invested. I was reading along, and there’s a moment where I thought – oh shit, Lori killed Erin? No! But What did you think?
DS: Honestly, I was heartbroken, and I’ll tell you why I was. I knew what that meant if she didn’t do it, and Lori had already lost so much. Had she been guilty, Lori wouldn’t have to deal with the fallout, but now it’s all on her, which makes that breaking point at the end that much more powerful.
JN: I think Lori wishes she had done it. I think she would have done it any day of the week to keep Ryan safe.
DS: I thought she was going to take the fall in the end for Ryan.
JN: I think at that point, she knew that Mare knew, and there was no way for her to take the fall for Ryan. It felt final to me, and I imagine to Lori as well. John had already tried to take the fall, but Mare found out. There was no way Lori could have done it. It was as if she just found out.
DS: If Brad comes to you with a different project, would it be an immediate yes.
JN: Yes, I mean Dewey, I wouldn’t mind some laughs … I’m not gonna lie and say I wouldn’t mind going to work and not tearing my soul open. (Laughs)
DS: Has the growing fandom of this series caught you off guard?
JN: Yes, I think magic dust was sprinkled onto this series, and everything fell into place. It’s been so fun, people I know going .. this is amazing.
DS: What’s the most outrageous theory to date? Have any family members looked for scoops about the show?
JN: My sister tried to get some scoop. My biggest acting with this series has been not to comment about anyone’s theory about the show, no matter how crazy it is. The craziest theory that I’ve heard was that Lori did it because her body was laid out just like the figure on the Dave Matthews Band T-Shirt.
DS: (Laughter) Are you serious?
JN: Yes, I just heard that today.
DS: I didn’t have that deep of a theory other than Lori was pissed off at Erin for cheating with her husband.
DS: I know! But I was wrong, and I was heartbroken, and it was your brilliant performance that had me feeling those emotions. When you knew that these scenes would have your character going toe to toe figuratively with Kate’s character Mare, do you feel that raised level of your performance?
JN: First off, I have been a fan of Kate’s forever because she is amazing. I knew, or at least I hoped I knew what I would have across from me in those scenes, and actually, I’ve known her for many years too. So we have a history, which was huge in creating that dynamic between Lori and Mare.
DS: Julianne, thank you for your time, this was terrific.
JS: Thank you, Dewey.
Photo by Michele K. Short/HBO