By Steve Shapiro
HBO strikes again. This Sunday, the network premieres "Olive Kitteridge," a two-part miniseries based on Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories about residents in a small town in Maine.
Dubbed a "traumedy" by director Lisa Cholodenko, the screen version features Frances McDormand as Olive, the retired math teacher with a dysfunctional marriage and a son who, like her, suffers from depression.
Katie Couric asked McDormand about adapting the book for the screen. "I was, like, no, it's not a movie. It's definitely not a movie." She added, "It's too complex, and a movie is 90 minutes. I've never really seen a female story told correctly in 90 minutes."
"Kitteridge" became a four-hour film and is told over a 25-year period tracing Olive from age 45 to 70. The aging process is something McDormand thinks about a lot these days. She often speaks about it with her husband, director Joel Coen.
"We have a lot of conversations about aging and how difficult it is in our culture. I've been very fortunate that I'm happy with the way I look and how I age."
The 57-year-old actress told Couric she gets upset when she sees women altering the faces that time has given them.
"Because it takes away," she says. "I'm going to erase 10 years, 15 years. You never really do."
McDormand is best known for her role as Marge Gunderson in "Fargo," for which she won the Academy Award for best actress. She admits all the attention she received from the part has been a blessing and a curse.
"It is a double-edged sword, like most gifts. A really good gift is a challenge as well as a pat on the back," she said.
McDormand is thrilled that the landscape of television has evolved to the point where projects like "Kitteridge" can be produced and given a home.
"I love long-format television. It's one of the best ways to adapt literature to the screen, to give it its due."