Actress ain dowd Standing straight on his back, hands clutching the wheel, eyes fixed on the green-brown-blue river that stretched out in front of him. The Statue of Liberty pointed straight ahead.
“Everyone behind the wheel of a sailboat looks awesome,” Jonathan Horvathy, said the captain. “But some people look more terrifying than others.”
Ms Dowd, 65, is perhaps best known for playing Aunt Lydia, a ruthless proponent of theocracy “The Handmaid’s Tale,” I grew up boating. She and her six siblings spent the summer Sunpi Lake In New Hampshire, operating a motorboat and a sunfish. They still gather there on weekends, though she insists that her siblings are all better sailors.
“This sister,” said Ms. Dowd, pointing to her. “I don’t know what happened there.”
Ms. Dowd, who lives in an apartment in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, thought it was time to improvise, so on a recent Thursday morning, she went to Tribeca for a lesson with Mr. Horvath and Eric EmerickMILF on trainers atlantic sailing.
She dressed, for a quiet day, in a nautical striped, white and dark blue dress with sequin details. But that morning, winds blew at Pier 25 and thunderstorms started pouring in.
Mr. Horvath and Mr. Emerick carried Ms. Dow on a 38-foot single-masted sloop called Vitamin C. Used mostly for pleasure-seeking in the Bahamas, it sleeps four – six if you put some cushions on the dining table. The dock shook in the air. The boat swayed as soon as Ms. Dowd climbed.
Mr. Emerick loosened the stern line and bowline, then rode as Mr. Horvath went down the river. Military helicopters churned upward, probably because the UN General Assembly was in session.
Under Mr. Horvath’s direction, Ms. Dowd lifted the luffing cell, pulled the line tight using a winch, and then secured it. “Beautiful,” said Mr. Horvath encouraging her. “Great.” He asked why they didn’t raise the sail all the way. This was because the wind, which sometimes gusted up to 30 knots, was very strong. But if there’s one woman who can see off the storm, it’s Ms. Dowd.
A longtime veteran of the Chicago stage, Dowd began booking major roles in her 50s as a trusted fast food manager. “compliance,” as a cult leader “the leftovers,” and as Aunt Lydia, the role that earned Ms. Dow her first Emmy.
An essentially compassionate woman, she specializes in characters who commit cruel and terrifying things – terrorizing women with cattle (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), manipulating demons (“Hereditary”). She doesn’t understand why the casting directors keep calling her to play these horrible women, why they never look up to her as good moms, funny grandmothers, skilled surgeons.
“But I know I enjoy playing them,” she said of her evil characters. “It’s belief, and I can’t get over it fast enough.”
in her latest tortured role “Mass,” An independent film that premieres on October 8, in which she plays a gentleman character, Linda, a woman’s church rat, who tells of the loss she has caused to her son and the responsibility she bears. She spends most of the film listening, eyes sunken, mouth a wound.
As soon as she read the script, she knew she wanted to play the role. But she hesitated, which was unusual for her. “How am I going to live in this level of sadness?” she wondered.
So she did what she often does: She offered a kind of prayer for the character. And Linda replied. “It was as if he told me, I got it,” said Ms. Dowd. “There’s something about that experience that was sacred.”
Winning an Emmy four years ago has changed the scope of her career somewhat. She is now offered roles like “Mass” instead of auditioning. But she still lives in the same Chelsea apartment where she raised her kids, and her concern is still for work rather than celebrity trappings.
“My wish is to keep it very simple. Because work is always work,” she said. “And that’s where the focus should be.”
As the boat passed through the financial district, Mr. Horvath invited her to the helm where she turned the wheel with a practicing hand. With the motor off, the boat was moving at 7 or 8 knots, into the bay and towards the Statue of Liberty. But once the boat cleared the southern tip of Manhattan, the wind picked up and the boat enlisted to a startling degree. “Okay, I’m going to make someone sea sick,” she said.
The sailors prepared Ms. Dowd to change course. “Do you remember the name of change in the wind?” Mr. Horvath asked him.
“No, dear,” she said.
It was settling, he told her. Putting his hand on his hand, he turned the wheel and the boat became straight in the water. Ms. Dowd sailed back and forth for the next hour, making a wake through New York Harbor, the city skyline behind her. The water made her feel, she said, “completely relaxed and interested.”
Yet the wind continued to blow, each time the boat passed through Manhattan and navigated the more open waters of the Upper Bay.
“Yes, there he is,” said Mr. Horvath as a strong wind slammed into the stern.
“There he is,” agreed Mr. Emerick.
“Why is he always there?” Ms. Dowd asked.
“Because of the patriarchy, I’m sure,” said Mr. Horvath. “Sailors talk about the wind like that. They talk about the boats because that’s almost like romantic relationships.”
The gusts never shook Ms. Dowd, although she was concerned when the occasional water taxi approached her. But she continued her course, despite what Mr Horvath called a “university-level wind”, which flapped her skirt like a second sail.
When it was time to return to the dock, Mr. Horvath kept his steer behind a trash can until he returned the boat to its pier.
“Get ready to deal,” said Ms. Dowd as if she had been saying this all her life. “We’re tackling now.” He had fully embraced the role of a sailor. “One takes direction really well,” said Mr. Horvath.