Misty Upham Co-Stars with Meryl Streep in August: Osage County
By Rob Schmidt
One of the play’s key roles is Johnna Monevata, a Cheyenne woman whom the Weston family hires as a live-in housekeeper. Johnna is the witness as the sharp-tongued matriarch lashes out at family members, in-laws and hangers-on. Actress Kimberly Guerrero originated the role and went on to play it in New York and London.
Now Harvey Weinstein and George Clooney are producing a movie version. It’s directed by John Wells (ER) and its all-star cast includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor. It’s scheduled to be released in 2013.
Other than Johnny Depp as Tonto, Johnna may be the highest-profile Native role of 2013. The plum assignment went to Blackfeet actress Misty Upham (Frozen River), fresh off filming another high-profile picture, Jimmy Picard, with Benicio Del Toro. We chatted with Upham via e-mail as she was finishing the August: Osage County shoot in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
An Interview With Rising Star Misty Upham, 'August: Osage County'
Intimidating. I was so nervous. It took about two weeks before I could step onto set without feeling faint. Then I got to know some of them and realize they are regular people. Some I didn't want to know because they have been such a presence throughout my life with their work. Didn't want to ruin the fantasy that their “star-power” gave me in times when I wanted to give up. That's what happens when you work on sets. You learn that people are humans. Just like every day. It's just a bit more complicated with the fame and power.
What is August: Osage County about?
It's about family, dysfunction, selfishness, sacrifice, frailty and love. One of the lessons I'm learning is that you can love someone without them loving you back. Love is given. Love can never be taken. And if someone doesn't want to give it, all you can do is love them anyhow. That's the beautiful part of this movie. Forgiveness doesn't always happen in our life-times. More times than not it, happens too late.