Losing the supporting actress Oscar to Pollock
's Marcia Gay Harden
probably wasn't that crushing a blow to Frances McDormand
, 44, who was nominated for her work in Almost Famous
(coming to pay-per-view next month).
Sounds like the thesp got all she could out of winning an Academy Award back when she collected the best actress statuette for 1996's Fargo, which is perched on her bookshelf. "[Winning the Oscar] makes it easier for directors to hire you," McDormand explains to TV Guide Online. "I don't mean to fluff it off it certainly is a great acknowledgment." Still, she's quick to add that "the most rewarding one for me was the Screen Actors Guild Award [for Fargo], because it's from my peers."
Though McDormand may often be seen in mother roles these days, she's hardly gone the matronly route. In Almost Famous, her earthy character was based on director Cameron Crowe's own unconventional mama. "Playing Cameron's mother, I felt so confident in my body," she marvels. "It's the first time I've felt sexy in a movie, and it's a great feeling. I was almost the oldest person in the cast, so the energy was really great."
She also earned kudos for her portrayal of a suddenly pregnant professor in Wonder Boys (currently on pay-per-view). "I like the idea of playing a 42-year-old woman who's pregnant and has to face it," enthuses McDormand. "It's the kind of classic thing one thinks about when you're younger. It's a really interesting dramaturgical point... to have a surprise pregnancy come up. There's just not the same options. If I got pregnant tomorrow, I'd be paralyzed!"
Fortunately, self-professed "homemaker" McDormand and director-husband Joel Coen eschewed such a predicament by adopting son Pedro McDormand Coen, six. The happy trio are permanently settled in New York City. "We're really lucky," says the actress. "Pedro is going to grow up with a certain privilege. He's probably gonna go to private school. The options [here], just culturally, are very important. It's important for him to grow up with as diverse a cultural experience as he can have."