Margo Martindale has a helluva laugh. When she has a really big one, her head slams forward then back again. The actress — or, in the parlance of “BoJack Horseman,” on which she voices a crazy, bazooka-toting version of herself, “character actress” — can be scary or scarily efficient on shows like “Justified” or “The Americans.” But in person she’s closer to the nicer characters, like the one she plays in the new indie dramedy “The Hollars.” Directed by and starring John Krasinski, it follows a family whose matriarch (played by Martindale) discovers she has a possibly fatal brain tumor. But her character doesn’t go quietly. In fact, Martindale insists she’s living, not dying.
First things first: I have to admit I didn’t know you were a New Yorker.
Since 1974. I’ve been on the same block since 1978, on the Upper West Side.
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of change.
Tremendous change. There were pimps and whores on my block when I moved there. They’re not there anymore. I had a lot of propositions from this pimp on my block. And I was very flattered. But I decided I wasn’t going to go work for him. [Laughs] I think I even remember the guy’s name: It was Harbo.
Harbo is probably be the name I’d go with if I was a pimp, even if it’s not very menacing.
I’d be Harbo.
I wanted to ask about “BoJack Horseman” and if there are now a lot of people calling you “Character Actress Margo Martindale” to your face.
Uh-huh. Quite a few of them.
How do you feel about that?
I feel really great. I love it. Somebody stopped me on the street the other day and said, “Are you Character Actress Margo Martindale?” I said, “You recognized me from my cartoon?” [Laughs]
At least it’s a great thing to be called.
The thing that’s so bizarre is, that I’ve always thought: What is acting except for character acting? If you’re not character acting, then you’re just not really acting. Because every part is a character.
It also means you haven’t been typecast. You’ve never played someone who is dying before, as you do in “The Hollars.”
I’m not dying. I’m living.