In the seventh and final episode of HBO’s Mare of Easttown, Julianne Nicholson‘s Lori unloads on her BFF Mare (Kate Winslet) for arresting her 12-year-old son Ryan without even the courtesy of a heads-up. Below, TVLine Dream Emmy nominee Nicholson and Mare series creator Brad Ingelsby, who penned the closer, take us inside the visceral, heartbreaking scene.
JULIANNE NICHOLSON | It felt like it was my scene to f–k up. [Laughs] Part of acting is magic; you do the work and hope for [the best]. So I was very nervous. But I also felt like I knew this character. And I knew her relationship with her son. And I also trust Kate implicitly — as a friend and as an actress.
BRAD INGELSBY | It was very quiet on set. It was the last scene of the night. And it was very cold out.
NICHOLSON | I remember being very aware of the [temperature]. I don’t love the cold because I feel like it physically tightens you. Ideally, you feel looser in your body to be able to access things.
INGELSBY | I gave Julianne and Kate a wide berth. I didn’t want to get too involved because we knew what that scene would require emotionally. A lot of the scene was [performed] as written, but one line Julianne added was when [Lori screams], “It’s Ryan! It’s Ryan! It’s my Ryan.”
NICHOLSON | Brad is such a great writer, but he’s also not precious about it. So he always gave us the freedom to change a line, add a line, drop a line. The “my Ryan” line just happened in the moment. I was imagining this friendship between these two people. Mare knows Ryan since he was born. We’re not just talking about any kid. We’re talking about Ryan. My Ryan. [The words] just sort of came out.
INGELSBY | That was my favorite part of the scene. I’m honest enough with myself to be like, “When someone has a better idea than me, I will happily steal it.” Julianne created that moment.
NICHOLSON | At one point, after having done a [few takes], I needed a little extra shot of something so I just went and gave Kate a big hug… because to feel that comfort and trust and love reminds you of what it feels like to have it [taken away].
INGELSBY | I didn’t say too much to [Julianne] afterward because when you go through something that emotional it’s hard to just turn off the switch, I would imagine… The emotion out of Julianne — the heartbreak on her face — was just so incredible. She knocked it out of the park.
NICHOLSON | I remember getting back in the van after the scene and I just started crying. And my makeup artist — or I should say my non-makeup artist [Laughs] — Debbie Young, who I’ve worked with before and I deeply love, said to me, “You brought it, honey.” She made me feel like I did what I needed to do.