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Da'Vine Joy Randolph reveals her 'deal breaker' for The Holdovers

The actress is gaining significant acclaim for her performance in Alexander Payne's The Holdovers, including a Golden Globe nomination

Da'Vine Joy Randolph attends the PatBO fashion show during New York Fashion Week - September 2023 on September 09, 2023 in New York City.
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
18 December 2023
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Da'Vine Joy Randolph is one of the breakout stars of the season, earning significant acclaim over the past few months for her layered and moving performance in Alexander Payne's The Holdovers.

The 37-year-old actress has been in the business for over a decade and is earning some of the best reviews of her career, especially after noted turns in Only Murders in the Building, The Idol, and 2019's Dolemite Is My Name.

Da'Vine sat down with Fair Play star Alden Ehrenreich for an episode of Variety's Actors on Actors to discuss their simultaneous rise in the industry and the performances that got them there.

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Alden asked the star about her turn in the holiday comedy-drama, in which she plays the cafeteria administrator and cook Mary Lamb, who stays behind at the New England boarding school she works at during the holidays to grieve the loss of her son.

The actor questioned: "You played a chef in The Holdovers. Did you make any of the food?" and Da'Vine revealed that not only did she make the food, it was actually one of her non-negotiables.

"That was my deal breaker," she explained. "I had to do the cooking. I need to be working with my hands. Over the course of the entire movie, I make oatmeal, a soup, and I roasted a chicken. 

Da'Vine Joy Randolph attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California.© Getty Images
Da'Vine revealed what her one "deal breaker" was for The Holdovers

"On days when we're eating in scenes, we didn’t have craft services. We really sat down and had dinner."

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Food is a key part of the movie, in which the characters played by Paul Giamatti and newcomer Dominic Sessa often congregate during mealtime with the rest of the supporting characters, and a pivotal scene also sees Paul's Professor Hunham stand up for Da'Vine's Mary after she's looked down upon by some of the more privileged students in the elite school.

Actress Da'vine Joy Randolph attends "The Ghost Light Sessions" sneak peek at "Ghost The Musical" at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on January 19, 2012 in New York City.© Getty Images
The actress first gained prominence for her role in the musical version of "Ghost" on Broadway

The film centers around the unlikely bond between Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti) and Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa) when bright but unruly Angus is forced to stay over at school during the holidays and the curmudgeonly and jaded Paul is assigned to look after the "holdovers."

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The acclaimed release has been considered a return to form for Alexander, and Da'Vine praised his ability in her Variety conversation. "From the first conversation with Alexander, I understood he was the type of director that wants to dig in." 

Dominic Sessa, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Giamatti, Writer/Producer David Hemingson, Director Alexander Payne and moderator Taylor Hackford speak at a special screening of Focus Features' "The Holdovers" at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on November 17, 2023 in West Hollywood, California.© Getty Images
"That was my deal breaker. I had to do the cooking. I need to be working with my hands."

She even added: "He shipped me two big boxes of cigarettes with a note that said, 'Get to it!'"

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Da'Vine continued: "I asked for swatches of the fabric [for my costumes] because, given that Mary was this matriarch, I needed people to feel like they wanted to cozy up next to her. 

Paul Giamatti, Dominic Sessa and Da'Vine Joy Randolph attend a special screening of Focus Features' "The Holdovers" at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on November 17, 2023 in West Hollywood, California.© Getty Images
The three leads from the film have all received acclaim for their performances

"I needed the textiles to be that way, or the hair. As a woman of color, I always pay homage to my ancestors and elders – in the industry in particular – who have paved the way. It could be a hairstyle or a gesture that I lay in there. I always leave these little subliminal gems."

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