HOW TO PLAY ‘THE MOST HATED WOMAN IN AMER­ICA’

Ac­tress rel­ishes chance to play slain athe­ist leader from Austin.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Charles Ealy Spe­cial to the Amer­i­can-Statesman

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

AMER­I­CAN-STATESMAN TOM MCCARTHY JR. FOR

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.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY NET­FLIX

Melissa Leo and Vin­cent Kartheiser star in Net­flix’s “The Most Hated Woman in Amer­ica.”

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