In the 15 years since she played Lindsay Weir in the short-lived but beloved series Freaks and Geeks, Linda Cardellini has gone on to success in TV and movies both comedic and dramatic, ranging from Scooby-Doo and Grandma’s Boy to Brokeback Mountain, ER and Mad Men. Her latest role in the Netflix series Bloodline (streaming now) casts her as Meg Rayburn, a lawyer who’s cheating on her boyfriend and cooking the books for the family business—and that’s not the worst of the stuff going on in her wealthy, highly dysfunctional family.
Set in the Florida Keys with a cast that also includes Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard, this binge-worthy drama is like a rotten onion that’s peeled to reveal secrets, lies and mysterious deaths. No wonder Cardellini couldn’t resist.
She explains why—and reflects on that Freak-y show that launched it all for her—in this life-affirming Q&A…
“The stories aren’t linear—they’re like little puzzle pieces uncovered at all different times. The weather is beautiful to watch—the storms are gorgeous. It’s really a character in the show.”
This is a really dark, juicy story—and character. Is that what attracted you to it?
Certainly. I love that you think she’s one thing and turns out to be something else, which is a theme of every other character too. There are lots of unanswered, terrible things that are going on. It’s always fun to play secrets. It makes the character very rich. Lots of secrets are uncovered as the story moves along.
How does playing Meg compare to your previous roles?
The process has been totally different. The stories aren’t linear—they’re like little puzzle pieces uncovered at all different times. We shot 13 episodes over seven, eight months in Florida, which was incredible. The weather is beautiful to watch—the storms are gorgeous. The ecosystem is so different from the west coast. It’s really a character in the show. To be so secluded from what my normal life is and to be among such wonderful people was the best part for me. It was a complete and total joy.
Looking back on your Freaks and Geeks days, did you ever think it would become a cult phenomenon, or that so many members of the cast would be so successful?
I believed in what we were doing but there was no way I could have known. The show still lives on and people are still watching it, especially because of Netflix and DVD. When we were making the show, that wasn’t even a possibility. When something got canceled it was gone forever. So the idea that it continues to live on and everybody has gone on to do so many wonderful things is fantastic. It’s so great to see everyone doing so well. We’re all crazy busy. What a gift. But I get to see everybody now and then.
What’s on your wish list if you had carte blanche to choose what to do next?
I’d love to do a Broadway musical at some point. Maybe a revival but I’m open to an original. I’d love to work with Ang Lee again. He’s so phenomenal.
You’ve got a movie, Daddy’s Home—details?
It’s with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It’s a comedy set in Texas, but shooting in New Orleans. It’s fun, very different from Bloodline. And I have another film called Welcome to Me that’ll be out in May. I’ve been busy. It’s been great. I’m very happy about it.
What are you proudest of so far?
My child—I have a three-year old daughter—and the fact that I wanted to be an actress and I did it. I’m really proud of this show and the people I get to work with. What an extraordinary group of talented actors. I’ve been very lucky in this business. It’s been very good to me, and I’m so happy. It keeps getting better and better.