Frances McDormand has been recognized by 44 different award-granting bodies with 99 nominations. Her recent Golden Globe nomination for her affecting performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri marks her sixth by the Hollywood Foreign Press alone. In fact, she is only the 12th woman to win “The Triple Crown of Acting” with an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. But before any of those nods and before she won an Oscar for Fargo and Emmy for Olive Kitteridge—and a Tony for Good People—McDormand trained in the theatre.
The actor attended Bethany College and graduated with a bachelor’s in theatre before earning her master’s at the Yale School of Drama. She made her Off-Broadway debut in 1983 as an understudy for Elizabeth McGovern in Painting Churches. By 1984, she'd made her Broadway debut in Awake and Sing! with Dick Latessa and Michael Lombard. Her next appearance on Broadway in the 1988 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire earned McDormand her first Tony nomination for her work as Stella Kowalski opposite Blythe Danner as Blanche Du Bois. While it would be 20 years before McDormand returned to the Main Stem, she frequented Off-Broadway in productions of The Sisters Rosenweig, The Swan, Far Away, and an oak tree. In 2008, she starred as Georgie Elgin in the revival of The Country Girl, but her performance as Margaret in Manhattan Theatre Club’s Good People won McDormand the Tony.
A supporter of innovation in theatre, McDormand is a current associate of The Wooster Group experimental theatre company based in New York City. The company has garnered nine Obie Awards and six Bessie Awards since its founding in 1975.
“I love my job. I love my job,” McDormand said during her acceptance speech in 2011. “And like many of us, I have traveled around the world playing in theatres. I have played O’Neill. I have played Racine. I have done both Stella and Blanche in Streetcar and I have played all three of Chekhov’s sisters and now Maggie Walsh. I believe that young actors will grow up to one day play this role and for that I thank you [David Lindsay-Abaire]. … Thank you very much, this means more to me than you may know.”
Now, McDormand has conjured greatness from yet another role by another accalimed playwright: Mildred in Martin McDonagh’s (The Pillowman) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The tale of a woman who challenges local police to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch her killer stars McDormand as a mother pushed to the edge. Come January 7, we may hear another one of those McDormand acceptance speeches.
Tune in to the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards January 7 8PM ET on NBC.