By Justine Elias
Special to TelevisionWeek
Two formidable queens of England, an American suffragette, a counterintelligence expert and a Baltimore widow hoping to connect with an old boyfriend-these are the nominated roles in the category of actress in a miniseries or made-for-television motion picture.
When nominations were announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, there were no unfamiliar names on the list, but there were some surprises. For starters, this year marks the first Golden Globe nomination for perennial standout Blythe Danner. Ms. Danner’s performance in “Back When We Were Grownups” (CBS) marks her second starring role in an adaptation of an Anne Tyler novel, following 1998’s “Saint Maybe.” At 61, Ms. Danner has seniority among her nominated peers, and perhaps the HFPA members will think further recognition for her is long overdue.
Hilary Swank, at 30, is the youngest nominee in the category. She also received a nod for her leading role in the film “Million Dollar Baby.” In the HBO telemovie “Iron Jawed Angels,” Ms. Swank, a Golden Globe winner in 2000 for “Boys Don’t Cry,” transforms herself yet again, this time into a determined, self-sacrificing campaigner for women’s voting rights. As moving as Ms. Swank is in her lead role, she is but one of several actresses who stand shoulder to shoulder in a compelling film.
Julianna Margulies is no stranger to ensemble projects or the Golden Globes. She has been nominated five times-once as a supporting actress in the miniseries “The Mists of Avalon,” a feminist retelling of the King Arthur legend, and four times for her role on “ER.”
In TNT’s limited suspense series “The Grid,” she plays the leader of a U.S./ British counterintelligence team trying to avert a terrorist attack. The actress didn’t flinch from the series’ hair-raising premise or the prospect of playing a character who is “strong, na%EF;ve and on a fast learning curve,” said executive producer Tracey Alexander. “She embraced it, she researched it, she prepared, and you can see it in her performance.”
Miranda Richardson, like Ms. Margulies, starred in a television movie that earned just one nomination-her own. In PBS’s “The Lost Prince,” the story of Prince John, the youngest, possibly autistic, son of Britain’s King George V, Ms. Richardson played the child’s austere mother, Queen Mary.
Stephen Poliakoff, who wrote and directed “The Lost Prince, said Ms. Richardson has the ability to be “both quite regal and frightening, because that’s how Mary was. I wanted someone who could suggest how shut off she was, yet make you feel for her too.”
Ms. Richardson’s performance becomes heart-rending, he said, as the actress slowly reveals that Mary is not “a cruel waxwork of a queen” but is acting according to medical advice, Edwardian upbringing and royal duty. “I know Miranda is thrilled to be recognized for this role. Many people feel this is the thing she has done,” Mr. Poliakoff said.
With this, her seventh nomination, Ms. Richardson clearly is marked as a Golden Globes favorite. She has won twice, in 1993 for supporting actress in a Film for “Enchanted April” and in 1995 for supporting actress in a TV movie or miniseries, for “Fatherland” (HBO).
Glenn Close is another Golden Globes favorite. She has been nominated seven times now, including three times before in this category, though she has never won. She, too, has played more than a few fearless leaders. As the warrior Eleanor of Aquitaine in Showtime’s remake of “The Lion in Winter,” she follows in the footsteps of Katharine Hepburn, who won the Globe for playing Eleanor in the 1968 film.
“I didn’t know that,” Ms. Close said. “And seven! I don’t count them. It’s just fun to play queens. You get great costumes and get to order people around. I loved the scene where I came out of a prison cart and all those men knelt. That made me feel very queenly,” she said.