Over the years, Valerie Mahaffey has carved out a space for herself as a much-adored character actress of the television medium, starring in hit series such as Wings, Desperate Housewives, and Dead to Me, and also earning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work in Northern Exposure in 1992.
Though she has additionally adventured over into film from time-to-time – making appearances in Jungle 2 Jungle and Clint Eastwood’s Sully – her supporting role in this year’s French Exit is perhaps her big-screen breakout performance. As the erratic but endearing Madame Reynard, Mahaffey acts as the primary pal to Frances, the film’s protagonist (portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer), as she traverses Paris after escaping her penniless existence in America, and Reynard’s peculiar personality provides the movie with much of its heart and humor.
Last week, Mahaffey was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female for her performance in French Exit. AwardsWatch contributor Zach Gilbert had the chance to chat with Mahaffey about embracing the absurdity of the film and crafting such an idiosyncratic yet instantly iconic character.
Sony Pictures Classics will release French Exit in NY/LA on February 12, 2021, and the film will open nationwide on April 2, 2021.