She’s long been known as a supporting player on TV shows like Mary HartmanMary Hartman, and films like The Big Chill and Girl, Interrupted, but Mary Kay Place’s title role in the indie movie Diane is garnering her awards show nominations as a leading actress.

“As I’m reaching my senior years, to be acknowledged in this way is fantastic!” the actress, 72, exclusively told Closer at the recent IFP Gotham Awards in NYC. “This part was absolutely the greatest gift of my life.” She’s also savoring every moment of the experience.

Mary Kay Place
Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

“I’ve raced through most of my life, and this is a time of being slower,” says the Emmy winner explained. “It’s interesting to not be moving at the same pace.”

What has she gained from stepping off the gas pedal? “When you get older, you start to realize you have less time than you had during the rest of your life to enjoy things,” she said. “I’m grateful for my friends, my family, so much. So it’s good to slow down and really receive all the interesting information that’s coming your way.” Mary Kay is just coming off an LAFCA award for her role in Diane — a tiny indie film about a mom trying desperately to connect with her drug-addicted son, all while confronting things from her past.

Mary Kay Place
AgX/IFC Films/Kobal/Shutterstock

“She sees herself as a member of a large family, but sees those members dying away one by one, and feels probably that life is moving more quickly than she’s living it,” Mary Kay told NPR of her of role during an interview. “But I think ultimately [she] sees and maybe even embraces her solitude. So it’s sort of — I think she might have, for some people, a spiritual journey of some kind.”

“This character you play really reminded me of my mother and her matriarchal family,” May Kay added.

It certainly seems like Mary Kay may have some accolades in the near future!

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