Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell have a real-life connection that makes their casting in Maid meta. The Netflix limited series is inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive. The show focuses on Alex Russell (Margaret Qualley), a young single mother who escapes her abusive boyfriend and takes her two-year-old daughter Maddy with her. Maid follows Alex as she takes up a job as a maid to support herself. The limited series received critical acclaim for its performances, and while Qualley was named as a standout and nominated for several awards, Andie MacDowell is also great.
Maid works as well as it does because of the sympathy Margaret Qualley infuses into the character of Alex. However, the characters around Alex also make the world of Maid watchable and complex. There’s her emotionally abusive boyfriend, Sean (Nick Robinson), who is struggling with his own issues, and her wealthy client, Regina (Anika Noni Rose), who Alex ends up forming an unlikely relationship with. However, one of the most compelling characters in Maid is Paula, Alex’s flighty, artist mother who has undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Paula is played by Andie MacDowell, and the real-life connection between MacDowell and Qualley makes Maid even better.
Margaret Qualley Is Andie MacDowell’s Daughter In Maid & Real Life
Andie MacDowell plays Margaret Qualley’s mother in Maid, but she’s also Qualley’s real-life mother. In an interview with Collider, Margaret Qualley explained how MacDowell was cast as her on-screen mother. She was in Canada quarantining, and the part of Alex’s mom hadn’t been cast yet. However, Qualley said that she realized she always wanted to work with her mom and told Margot Robbie, who served as an executive producer on Maid, of her idea. Robbie loved it, and MacDowell got the role of Paula.
It’s understandable why Margaret Qualley would want to work with her mother on-screen. There have been plenty of notable mothers and daughters acting together, from Laura Dern and Diane Ladd to Leslie Mann with Maude and Iris Apatow. Andie MacDowell is a talented actress, and the idea of going toe-to-toe with her mother in certain scenes was probably intriguing to Qualley. It’s possible that Maid could have cast a capable actress who wasn’t related to Qualley, but the fact that her real-life mom plays her television mom ends up making the show even better.
Maid’s meta-casting enhances the family conflict and makes the show even better. Paula and Alex have a tricky and complex mother-daughter relationship that feels more natural due to Qualley and MacDowell’s real-life relationship. The inherent chemistry between MacDowell and Qualley makes Alex and Paula’s dynamic compelling. There’s a scene in the final episode of Maid, “Alaska,” that especially highlights how well the pair works together. Paula is talking to Alex about how she took her daughter on a trip to Alaska to escape Alex’s abusive father. Paula looks back on the trip, calling it “stupid,” but Alex reassures her mom, and the two of them share a sweet embrace.
In the Collider interview, Margaret Qualley talks about the comfort she felt having her mom on set with her. She also mentioned that her mother was a great scene partner and was “so giving and cool.” The comfort between Qualley and MacDowell allowed the two of them to play well off of each other, even when their characters are at odds with each other. Maid deals with many sensitive topics, including abusive relationships and mental health issues, and Paula and Alex’s conflicts over these issues feel all the more real due to the real-life mother and daughter portraying them. Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell are great scene partners in Maid, and hopefully, the two actresses can play mother and daughter again in a future project.