Random Roles: Ellen Barkin on great directors and paycheck roles, from Diner to Buckaroo Banzai

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Born and raised in the Bronx, two-time Golden Globe nominee Ellen Barkin got her start in Hollywood, like must fledgling actors, waiting tables and starring in daytime soap operas. However, unlike most burgeoning thespians, Barkin actually made it. For the last 30-plus years, she’s worked with some of America’s finest filmmakers, from Sidney Lumet to Walter Hill to Terry Gilliam. No matter the film, good or bad, Barkin stands out as an inimitable, radiant force of nature. Even as her cutthroat industry makes it increasingly difficult for women (especially those past 40) to find work, Barkin has endured. She’s carved out a niche for herself, and her movies are all the better for …

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