Molly Smith Metzler received a copy of Stephanie Land’s book for the first time Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive during his time in the Shameless writers room.
Metzler had just written a play about motherhood called Shout it out, and was the first candidate for Housemaid EPs John Wells and Margot Robbie will adapt Land’s story, roughly based on her life as a single mother in poverty, battling government benefits bureaucracy.
The protagonist, Alex Russell (played by Margaret Qualley), also clashes with his abusive partner, Sean (Nick Robinson), trying to gain custody of their infant daughter Maddy; a role for which he is absolutely not made, despite the system in his favour.
In addition to being a story about the forgotten class, says Metzler, “this problem of emotional abuse and domestic violence is even more important” in Housemaid.
“During the pandemic, domestic violence has reached a crisis level; people were trapped in their homes with their attackers. We need to start talking about these issues and now is a great time for that,” Metzler said on today’s squad call.
Qualley read for the part and immediately Metzler wanted her for it: “She was so raw and unaffected… (she brings) joy and dignity in the most humiliating scenes.”
One of the big prizes of the Netflix limited series that dropped last fall is to watch Qualley star alongside his mother, Andie MacDowell, who plays Alex’s entertainer mother, Paula. Qualley’s Alex is the more mature and levelheaded in crisis situations compared to her more liberal, carefree and selfish matriarch. Metzler tells how this dynamic cast was born.
Listen to our conversation with Metzler below: