The photos in the ads, one of Leo wearing an evening gown and a fur stole leaning provocatively into the camera and another of her in a floor-length fur coat, were admittedly a bit ham-fisted; the subtext of what seemed so galling to so many people, though, was that Leo had so brazenly deviated from the script of how older actresses in Hollywood who have delivered a performance good enough for an Oscar are supposed to behave.
So I did that for a little while and hung out with the college students," she tells me over iced tea at the Crosby Hotel in downtown New York, one afternoon in late August.
She's dressed in jeans and Pumas, and wearing no makeup; her hair is tied back in a ponytail.
She silenced the scolds in the best way possible: by winning.
Three years later, she has no regrets about her ambition or her methods.
She's already taken a victory lap on the morning talk show circuit.
There's four kinds of wood here." She glances around at the rest of the room's flooring. I think it's gorgeous."She'd come downstairs a few minutes earlier, Emmy in hand, in a standard Melissa Leo casual-hippie outfit — jeans and a tight white embroidered cotton shirt, which accentuates her bony frame, and flip-flops, which she quickly kicks off — but her makeup is flawless and her long copper hair flows in perfect waves down her back.But when Leo was around 8 years old, her parents separated, and Leo's mother, Peggy, took Melissa and her older brother, Erik, to live in Putney, Vermont.Arnold soon left his job at Grove and moved to East Hampton, New York, and became a commercial fisherman.But if The Fighter put her on the radar of the critical establishment, then all 10 or so minutes of the role have brought her to the attention of an entirely new audience."There are more people who watch Louie who are willing to come up to me who haven't watched anything I've done in 30 years," she says."Not a flood of people, but a very different cross section of people than [those who] normally say hey." Leo spent her early years in Manhattan's East Village.