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Actor Da’Vine Joy Randolph: ‘Eddie Murphy taught me to pace myself – don’t blow your ***’

The Golden Globe-winning star of The Holdovers on sparring with comedy greats, switching from opera to acting, and cooking as therapy

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Philadelphia-born actor Da’Vine Joy Randolph was nominated for a Tony award for her breakthrough performance in the 2012 Broadway stage production of Ghost: The Musical. Since then, she has worked in TV (High Fidelity, Only Murders in the Building) and film, starring opposite Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name and as Aunt Pooh in On the Come Up. Last week she won for best supporting actress award at the Golden Globes for her role in Alexander Payne’s bittersweet tragicomic three-hander, The Holdovers. She plays a recently bereaved mother and the longsuffering head cook at an elite New England boarding school in the 1970s, opposite Paul Giamatti’s curmudgeonly teacher, and newcomer Dominic Sessa as a troubled student.

When you were first approached by Alexander Payne, you didn’t know who he was. How did he win you over for the role?
At the time I was shooting On the Come Up. I’m running around doing 5 million things on my day off and I was told maybe 24 hours before that I was going to have a director meeting. I was starting to vibe with him as he was describing what it was that he wanted to do. And so I asked him, can you please tell me of some of the projects that you’ve done? As he starts telling me these titles [About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants] I realise this is the man who created many movies that I’ve really loved.

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