Why Marcia Gay Harden Returned to Catering After So Help Me Todd’s Success

When Marcia Gay Harden finished filming the 1990 crime drama Miller’s Crossing, which helped make her famous, she didn’t immediately find another acting job. Instead, she went back to working at catering gigs.

Harden, who now stars in the CBS comedy-drama So Help Me Todd, talked about this time in a recent interview with PEOPLE magazine.

“I think I was older compared to others in Hollywood when I finished college,” she says. “I was 30 when I did Miller’s Crossing, and afterward, I had to go back to catering to pay the bills.”

Her journey to success in Hollywood wasn’t easy. It involved years of failed auditions for different roles, including ones as the girl next door. But these rejections helped her realize something important.

“I would audition for roles where I had to be sweet, like the girl next door,” says Harden, who is 64 years old. “I tried to fit into that mold, but that’s not who I am. I didn’t want to play characters who were subservient or not very smart. That’s not interesting to me.”

Harden also learned an important lesson when she was late to a meeting with a casting director for a soap opera.

“I was supposed to meet this woman, but I was running late because of the rain,” she recalls. “So I hurried to catch up with her and gave her my picture and resume. But even though I thought I was right for her soap opera, I didn’t get the job. The lesson? Always be early, not just on time.”

Despite facing challenges early in her career, Harden eventually landed roles that showcased her talent. She won an Oscar for her role in the movie Pollock and earned another nomination for Mystic River. She also won a Tony Award for her work in God of Carnage.

While winning an Oscar was a big deal, Harden acknowledges that it didn’t drastically change her life. Most people don’t even remember who won last year.

“It’s not about making more money,” she says. “It’s about being recognized for your work. Having a body of work that people respect is what really helps your career.”

For Harden, there’s still a lot more she wants to accomplish as an actress.

“My mom used to say I work too hard,” she admits. “I’m not someone who says, ‘I’ll rest when I’m dead,’ but I hope I never feel like I’ve done everything perfectly. I always want to keep learning and improving.”

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