Julia Ormond is up for Emmy honors for HBO’s “Temple Grandin” movie – but it almost sounds as if she’s more interested in Claire Danes’ “Temple Grandin” Emmy recognition than her own.
Danes put herself through a transformation – complete with curly red short hair, awkward physicality and an odd vocal cadence – to play the famous autistic author and cattle expert. Ormond, who plays her mother, Eustacia, stresses, “I’m not sure if people understand how out on a limb she went on her own. She took a bold stance of acting on the set. We were all acting normal, looking at her like, ‘What’s wrong with her?’ That took guts and smarts,” she says of Danes’ decision not to emotionally connect with her fellow actors — either on or off-camera.
Adds Ormond, “When I watch the film, despite having played Eustacia, I just want to leap into the celluloid and hug her.”
Ormond says her own biggest challenge in making the highly-acclaimed movie was “struggling with the uncertainty that I was representing parents of autistic children fairly. I’ve had a few people who’ve intersected with my life who have autistic children, and I know it’s hard, very hard.”
She had read Eustacia Grandin’s book, but didn’t meet her real life alter-ego until the movie’s premiere. “Her whole wisdom was that she had to be able to do things for herself,” notes the actress. Meeting the strong, tough-minded woman “was terrifying and wonderful at the same time. She was wonderfully sweet and supportive.”
MEANWHILE: Ormond has completed two features since “Temple Grandin” – “Albatross,” which she calls “a quirky little British independent film,” and “The Tambourine Man.”
“I play a verbally abusive mom in the first one, and I play a music therapist in the other one,” she reports. Based on a real-life case written about by neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks, “Tambourine Man” is “about a boy who leaves his family at age 17, in the ‘sixties, at such a turbulent point in American culture, when there is a divide between the father and son. The son is discovered at age 30, not having been in touch with his parents all that time, with his memory erased – all the way back until the point he was 17 – because of a brain tumor. It’s a terrific story with a kind of poetical balance to it. It’s being edited now.”