Since her Oscar-nominated performance as struggling single mother Ray Eddy in 2008's 'Frozen River,' Melissa Leo has been able to segue from talented character actor to leading lady, and that continues with her latest, 'The Space Between.'

In the film, which premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival, Leo plays Montine, an ill-tempered flight attendant who's on the verge of losing her job when she's ordered to watch over a young Pakistani-American boy after their flight is grounded on 9/11. When she learns from him that his father works at the World Trade Center, Montine makes it her mission to get him back to New York.

Moviefone spoke to Leo the morning after 'The Space Between's' premiere screening to talk about the film, the perks to being an Oscar nominee (like being cast in the new HBO series 'Treme') and why she loves shooting in New York City. Since her Oscar-nominated performance as struggling single mother Ray Eddy in 2008's 'Frozen River,' Melissa Leo has been able to segue from talented character actor to leading lady, and that continues with her latest, 'The Space Between.'

In the film, which premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival, Leo plays Montine, an ill-tempered flight attendant who's on the verge of losing her job when she's ordered to watch over a young Pakistani-American boy after their flight is grounded on 9/11. When she learns from him that his father works at the World Trade Center, Montine makes it her mission to get him back to New York.

Moviefone spoke to Leo the morning after 'The Space Between's' premiere screening to talk about the film, the perks to being an Oscar nominee (like being cast in the new HBO series 'Treme') and why she loves shooting in New York City.


1. How would you sell your movie, 'The Space Between'?
For me, the film is about this grumpy airline hostess, so grumpy that it's funny at times. Why is she so grumpy, you have no idea, and then she meets this very sweet little boy and she's really grumpy to him, and eventually you find out what it is that is weighing on her so hard. It's about two people who would never spend a moment together unless they were forced into this circumstance. And I think anyone else would have started with a line about 9/11, but from where I sit, playing Montine, all she wants to do is shut it out. So [9/11] is the backdrop of the film for sure, the day and the weeks following. But it's much more about human beings doing that thing that we need to do, making a connection. But that's too many words for a sales pitch. [Laughs]

2. After 'Frozen River,' did you specifically look for characters that were different than Ray Eddy?
Opportunities have definitely opened up in the last couple of years on account of that extraordinary moment in my life. And I did for the first time allow myself to imagine that if it were my choice what would I like to do? One of the things that was quite clear to me after the nomination was the world doesn't know who I am, so I got it in my head that I wanted to be regularly on television, and low and behold, David Simon called me up for 'Treme.' The nice thing is that since the nomination, I haven't gotten offered Ray Eddy, after Ray Eddy, after Ray Eddy. Like my whole career, I've been offered a different woman every time.

3. What's your favorite thing about New York?
It was the place I was born. I don't live in Manhattan any longer, I live in New York state, but I love to come in and be with friends. This island is my home.

4. What's your favorite movie set in New York?
[Laughs] Gosh, there are so many. To be honest, I just love shooting in New York! I was on a few episodes of 'Law & Order' and I got a big bang walking out of the trailer onto 5th Ave. or 22nd St. or down at the courthouses. It's just being in the city and going to set and you run into someone you know, "Oh, hey, how you doing?" And the trailers, I don't like spending much time in there, so to walk out and be in the city, there's something really cool about that.

5. One of your upcoming projects is David O. Russell's 'The Fighter.' How was it being on his set? He has a very unorthodox way of working.

None of that matters in the end. David O. Russell makes a damn fine picture, and you just have to go and make the movie with him. I haven't seen 'The Fighter,' but I know what we put in the can. I can't wait to see that movie.