HOW TO PLAY ‘THE MOST HATED WOMAN IN AMERICA’
Actress relishes chance to play slain atheist leader from Austin.
Melissa Leo has played a string of hard-nosed characters throughout her career, from Kay Howard in TV’s “Homicide: Life on the Streets” to A lice Ward in “The
Fighter,” for which she won a supporting actress Oscar. She’s also played one of Austin’s most famous residents, Lady Bird Johnson, in the TV series “All the Way.”
But in “The Most Hated Woman in America” she takes on one of the most controversial characters in U.S. history: Austin’s Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the atheist leader who took a legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court to end Bible reading in public schools in 1963.
“I’m very, very protective of the women I play,” Leo says in an interview during South by
Director Tommy O’Haver, left, directed and co-wrote the true-crime biopic “The Most Hated Woman in America,” starring, clockwise from top, Michael Chernus, Josh Lucas and Melissa Leo, who portrays late Austin atheist leader Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Melissa Leo and Vincent Kartheiser star in Netflix’s “The Most Hated Woman in America.”