Tony-nominated actor Amy Ryan's first love may be the theater, but she's reached a bigger audience — and gained wider acclaim, including a richly deserved Oscar nomination — for her role as the grieving mother of a child who's been kidnapped in the 2007 film Gone Baby Gone. Among numerous TV roles, she's also impressed as The Wire's "Beadie" Russell, an iron-willed Port of Baltimore police officer who was the woman to finally put a leash on notorious tomcat Jimmy McNulty — until the current season. We caught up with Ryan on the eve of the DVD release of Gone Baby Gone, which is slated for today.
TVGuide.com: You've already won a number of prestigious critics' awards for Gone Baby Gone. How has the Oscar nomination changed your life?
Amy Ryan: Well, it's kept me busier than I've ever been, but I'm still coming to terms with it. It's still kind of surreal and wonderful. Sometimes it's even hard to believe it's true, yet it's familiar, because you've dreamt it for so long. The attention the movie and I have been getting has opened doors to new material and [the opportunity] to work with these great actors and directors, and that is the biggest prize of all.
TVGuide.com: How did you get the role of Helene?
Ryan: I live in New York, but I was in Los Angeles at the time [of the audition]. When I saw the appointment sheet and it said director Ben Affleck, I was thinking, 'You mean, actor Ben Affleck? He's playing Patrick?' But he's a force when you meet him. He's so well-spoken. He's the brightest man in the room. I was so thrilled from the get-go, like, 'Oh, this is gonna be good. I hope I get this.' He was so passionate about wanting to tell this story, and that's always infectious, to be around either someone who knows what they're doing or is eager to learn. [Laughs] So he had a combination of both. [Gone Baby Gone is Affleck's feature directorial debut.]
TVGuide.com: I also wanted to talk to you about The Wire....
Ryan: Oh, isn't that the best show? Why do you think it has never gotten the awards or recognition?
TVGuide.com: I was going to ask you the same question.
Ryan: It's really inexplicable. It kind of disturbs me, to be honest. I mean, what Michael [Kenneth] Williams [as Omar] and Andre Royo [as Bubbles] do with their performances is staggering.
TVGuide.com: Is it because it's so close to real life that people don't want to admit that these problems exist?
Ryan: Maybe, yeah. But at the end of the day, I think the proof is in the pudding. If you look back on TV in general, what's going to last through the years? I think The Wire is a brilliant social commentary, and that's shinier than any prize you can get.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of Michael Kenneth Williams, he's also in Gone Baby Gone, as are a lot of actors who have been on HBO programs: Titus Welliver from Deadwood; Ed Harris from Empire Falls; Amy Madigan from Carnivàle....
Ryan: And Dennis Lehane [who wrote the novel on which the film is based] is a writer on The Wire.
TVGuide.com: Right. And Matt Maher from John from Cincinnati. Did you guys sit around and talk about your HBO experiences?
Ryan: [Laughs] No, but I think all actors know that HBO is such top-quality work. It really is different from other TV shows. Maybe as actors we all have something in common, and we end up in the same world over and over again. Even Chris Bauer, who played Sobotka [in Season 2 of The Wire], I've worked with him a few times on stage, TV, independent films. Sometimes I think, well, we must have some similar quality that directors like.
TVGuide.com: And Bauer was also on HBO in 61*. He was great in the second season, and it was a shame his character had to go.
Ryan: I know! My mother cried, she was so sad he had to die. Oh, I shouldn't have said that — maybe some people are only watching Season 1. Spoiler alert!
TVGuide.com: Any plans to go back to the stage, or are you too busy fielding film offers?
Ryan: I'm still very much intrigued by film. It's so new to me, and it's grabbing my attention these days. But I've been re-inspired by theater after I saw Tracy Letts' new play, August: Osage County. It's phenomenal. That's my style of theater. That made my mouth start watering again. Something like that would be amazing.
TVGuide.com: Back to The Wire. How many episodes are you in this season?
Ryan: Just five this year. We only did 10 episodes. [But] I'm definitely in the last one.
TVGuide.com: Will we get to see Beadie kick McNulty to the curb?
Ryan: [Laughs] Nice try.
TVGuide.com: OK. Is there anything you can give us?
Ryan: The truth is, you don't really want to know, because you'll be [angry]. I know the story because it was told to me by [series creator] David Simon, but I wouldn't read the scripts on purpose because I wanted to be surprised, too. I did go snooping through one script, and I was like, 'Oh, no! I ruined one of the biggest things.' I was so bummed.
Check out Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone with clips in our Online Video Guide.
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