Wednesday, August 17, 2011

{alltv} Emmy 2011 nominee Melissa Leo fills the 'The Space Between' with more TV

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Melissa Leo is enjoying one of her busiest years yet, but she's making time for a reunion with her Oscar presenter, Kirk Douglas.

"It hasn't happened yet, only because I have been leaping and bounding," this year's best supporting actress for "The Fighter" tells Zap2it of her lunch date with the Hollywood legend, "and I don't want to go leaping and bounding through that. I want time for a nice tea with him, and I'm scheduled for a September visit. I definitely do not want to miss that opportunity."

Leo's colorful Oscar acceptance speech is widely remembered, and she maintains regret -- but only partially -- about the language she used, which sent ABC censors into immediate action.

"There are some people who don't want that in their homes," Leo acknowledges, "and network television has always respected that. And network television paid almost every one of my bills until I was 40. And I am so sorry I forgot the rules. But on the other hand, maybe it was high time."

Now Emmy-nominated for the HBO miniseries "Mildred Pierce," Leo begins shooting the third season of the cable network's drama series "Treme" in November. She'll also appear on HBO starting Saturday, Aug. 27, in the true 2010 movie "Conviction" as a Massachusetts police officer who hampered efforts by novice lawyer Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank, also the film's producer) to clear her murder-sentenced brother (Sam Rockwell).

"What a gift to be directed by Tony Goldwyn, and what a story to be told," Leo reflects, "And Betty Anne herself ... good gravy! It was really amazing, the bond that she and Hilary formed. They couldn't look at each other without tears in their eyes."

"Homicide: Life on the Street"
and "All My Children" alum Leo also inhabits the home screen soon in a fictionalized drama about 9/11 that USA premieres exactly on Sunday, Sept. 11. "The Space Between" casts her as a flight attendant reluctantly given custody of a Pakistani-American youth (Anthony Keyvan) when planes were grounded on the day terrorists struck the United States.

"I fold him I had a couple of months to do it in," Leo recalls of the offer from writer-director Travis Fine, "because I was about to join [creator-producer] David Simon down in New Orleans for 'Treme.' I said, 'If you can get this to "Giddy up, go," we've got a ride.' And he did. He slammed that thing together and took a big risk out of his own pocket, and we dove in."

A resident of New York's Hudson Valley, Leo is happy to remain based there while traveling frequently for work. She's doing ever more of that traveling these days, having also just completed the movie "Predisposed" with Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network").

 "My beautiful son is the biggest part of my life, no doubt," Leo reasons, "but as far as being on the planet and doing what I'm supposed to do, especially now that he's all grown up, I turned 40 and things started picking up. Acting, I guess, is really the only thing that's made me feel like I'm living."

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