Rosie O’Donnell is a television personality and comedian but many forget she is an Emmy and Tony Award winning actress. While O’Donnell has never stopped acting, 2020 sees her starring as Lisa Sheffer in I Know This Much Is True, a television mini series based on the book of the same name by Wally Lamb.
Having read the book before starring in and watching I Know This Much is True lived up to O’Donnell’s expectations and was a wonderful professional experience. “Twenty years ago when I first read the book I couldn’t imagine how it would be shot… I read Wally’s second book, I Know This Much Is True, and thought ‘nobody is going to be able to do it.” Said O’Donnell, “So it actually exceeded my expectations when I watched it for the first time and then I watched it again and I loved it again. It was the best experience of movie making that I’ve had in my career”.
Having starred in many movies and TV shows since the 1980’s being the best experience of movie making is a big call. What made it so wonderful? “I felt completely free as an artist. Derek (Cianfrance) is such an amazing director and he says things like, ‘I can’t tell you how to act, but I can tell you that he shouldn’t be so bossy to you. It’s up to you.’”
While O’Donnell recognises film work can be difficult, she is appreciative of her position especially with so many people struggling in this day and age. “It’s completely exhausting. It’s a horrible thing to say in the middle of a pandemic when people are working in factories and people are dying because this is a great gig and it’s a blessing to get to work right.” Says O’Donnell.
O’Donnell also recognises the hard work of co-star Mark Ruffalo who played both roles of twins Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. “Mark played Dominick first and then when we were done with all the principle photography for Dominick and everybody clapped and we said ‘we’ll see you in six weeks.’…So then I came back to set and I was a little early and I was going to craft services and I see a guy who looked like he didn’t belong there… it was Mark and I didn’t even recognise him because he was so different – how he stood, his gait, his eyes, the downward trajectory of his whole being, how he physically laboured under the weight of Thomas. It was breath-taking to watch.”
I Know This Much is True. Available on NEON
Starring Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Imogen Poots (Sweet Virginia), Melissa Leo (Treme), Rosie O’Donnell (SMILF), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Juliette Lewis (Camping) and Kathryn Hahn (Mrs. Fletcher).