She's The Best Thing in It

Veteran character actor and Tony Award winner, Mary Louise Wilson, age 79, teaches her first acting class to skeptical members of the YouTube generation, smashing their red carpet illusions and challenging them to bring emotional honesty into their acting. Features interviews with Frances McDormand, Melissa Leo, Tyne Daly, Estelle Parsons, Valerie Harper and playwright Doug Wright, discussing what it means to be a character actor, whether acting can be taught, what constitutes 'talent,' and whether the profession is harder for women.


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  • ★★★½ review by Jason Bailey on Letterboxd

    Mary Louise Wilson is a lifelong character actor, mostly for the stage, and after she won a Tony in 1998, she says, “I never worked again.” Aged out of even her specialty work, she went back to New Orleans to teach acting at the college level — no easy task for a novice, and one of the film’s key virtues is how director Ron Nyswaner (screenwriter of 'Philadelphia') captures the hesitancy and tension of the teaching process. He counterbalances her story by talking to several other great character actors about their craft (including Frances McDormand, Melissa Leo, and Estelle Parsons), using the life of one actor to consider the actor’s life more generally. Informative, enlightening, and heartfelt, it’s a lovely little documentary about the kind of performer we too often take for granted.

  • ★★★★ review by Andrew Eaton on Letterboxd

    A doc about Mary Louise Wilson, acting, Meisner, loss, and teaching what can't be taught. Light, but a joy to watch.

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