Bafta nominee Ann Dowd: America has lost its way

The Handmaid’s Tale star is nominated for her role in Mass, a drama about the aftermath of a school shooting.
Bafta nominee Ann Dowd: America has lost its way

By Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Bafta nominee and Handmaid’s Tale star Ann Dowd has recalled weeping in the presence of the mother of a victim of the Sandy Hook school shooting, as she said America has “lost its way” when it comes to gun control.

The actress, best known for her role as Aunt Lydia in the gruelling dystopian Channel 4 drama, is in the running for the best supporting actress Bafta for her turn as the mother of a school shooter in the critically acclaimed film Mass.

She told the PA news agency: “I’m very, very touched by (the award). I was very surprised.

“I have tremendous respect for Britain’s theatre, film, always have, since forever. And to be included in this, I’m very, very grateful.”

Dowd stars opposite Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton and Reed Birney in the drama, written and directed by Fran Kranz, which sees the parents of the teenage perpetrator of a mass shooting meet the parents of one of his victims.

She added: “When I read it, I knew I would do it, hands down. And I also was fully aware of the question, can I go to this level of grief and stay there, as this character deserves, and as human beings in the world deserve?

“Those are unimaginable, unbearable circumstances, for any human being and a mother.

Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney and Ann Dowd in Mass (Sky UK/Bleecker Street/PA)

“I’m a mother of three and I don’t know what to say, we had each other, we knew that we could drop in and stay at the table and stay in the moment, that we could hold the story, if we were doing it together.

“And that’s the thing to about this lovely nomination, you can’t separate the performances. Because without each other, we don’t have anything.

“And that’s the same with Fran. It’s a connection that I will never forget and it will never leave my life.”

Reflecting on how many parents in the US are dealing with the grief and horror of losing their children in school shootings, she said: “We’re lost in this country, we have lost our way.

“That’s another reason I was so moved by Bafta, this nomination for all of us essentially, is I can’t imagine what you all think is going on over here.

“What are we waiting for? And that Britain could see and have the compassion to look beyond the specifics, which must baffle you, and get to the heart of the film.

Dowd with co-star Reed Birney (Sky UK/Bleecker Street/PA)

“We are in a very lost place and on a number of levels. A country who has such potential, is based on the right things, was started for the right reasons, and yet the confusion and the holding on to old amendments that have nothing to do with now.

“I think people are scared and confused, and when we’re scared and confused, we do stupid things.

“The fact that children that can be in such despair, crying out for help, and what do they have? A gun.

“We had the great, profound privilege of meeting a mother who had lost her child at Sandy Hook and had found her way to forgiveness and she’s remarkable.

“Fran and I just wept in her presence, because what we do, we don’t come home with the consequences, and she lived it and she found her way and she was remarkable.

“She was the composed individual in the room, because that woman has been there.

“She lost her marriage. She was very open about it and she said you cannot make the decision not to grieve.”

Mass is available on Sky Cinema now.

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