CT actress to star in ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ movie in spring

Broadway actress Mia Dillon to star in movie with Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates.

Actress Mia Dillon has had a thriving career on stage and in film and television based in New York but post-pandemic, has been quite comfortable making her house in Fairfield her home base. She loves watching birds and wildlife around her pond but can easily hop on train or plane to her next job.

“You just never know with this crazy business, which is what I love about it,” she said. “I love the fact that you could be sitting here at breakfast with the whole year ahead of you and have nothing coming up and suddenly you get a phone call and have an offer. I have had that happen so many times.”

Fairfield actress Mia Dillon has worked on Broadway and in movies. 

Fairfield actress Mia Dillon has worked on Broadway and in movies. 

Courtesy of the Westport Country Playhouse

Such was the case with her newest project in which she plays the Christian grandmother of the main character in the upcoming film, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” which will hit theaters in late April.

Based on the classic book by Judy Blume, it’s a coming-of-age story of a girl on the cusp of womanhood dealing with growing pains as well as questioning faith and religion. The latter causes much consternation in her family. Eleven-year-old Margaret, as played by Abby Ryder Fortson, has a mother who is Christian (actress Rachel McAdams) who married a Jewish man. Margaret has not even met her mother’s mother (Dillon) up until this point as they were not happy their daughter married outside her faith. A battle of wills results between the two grandmothers, Dillon’s character, and Kathy Bates as the Jewish grandmother.

“It’s such a beloved book. I was not the generation this book really meant so much to, but, of course, I had heard about it because it was huge,” she said. “When I read it finally, she describes things that you go through as a girl transitioning from girlhood to trying to figure out how to be an adult and all these strange new things like getting your period and going shopping for your first bra.”

Dillon loved working with the actors on the film and as they filmed during the pandemic, she said it was an unusual but wonderful experience. “There were no in-person auditions so I filmed an audition on my iPhone and then my agent called to tell me I had the part,” she said. “We filmed in North Carolina in May and June 2021 and I have to say it was a little scary. It was my first foray out into flying or being with a crowd of people [since Covid began]. The whole crew was masked, the actors were masked during rehearsals and the only time you saw people’s faces was when we actually shot the film.”

She raves about the cast and especially director, Kelly Fremon, who acquired the film rights after Blume allegedly turned down several previous offers from other directors. “Rachel McAdams is just divine. Not only is she a brilliant actress but one of the nicest people so I truly enjoyed working with her,” she said. “I play her mother and she marries a Jewish man and we don’t even go to the wedding as her mom and dad because she married outside the faith so this is the first time we’ve met Margaret. Our Margaret, Abby Ryder Fortson, was just fabulous.”

Dillon most recently was in the Westport Country Playhouse’s production of “4000 Miles” that ran during the summer of 2022 and is no stranger to Connecticut theaters nor this one in particular. Her first theater role in Connecticut actually was at the Playhouse back in 1979 when she was doing a pre-Broadway tryout for “Once a Catholic.” The play did the regional summer stock circuit before moving to the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway. She received a Drama Desk Award nomination for her role in that play and later a Tony nomination for “Crimes of the Heart.”

Asked for an interesting anecdote on her career, she relates how she was actually offered two Broadway shows on the same day, one being “Once a Catholic,” which she took. “I didn’t know which one to take so I called Brian Murray who had been in ‘Da’ with me and later we did ‘A Song at Twilight’ at Westport Country Playhouse,” she said. He asked her to describe the parts to him and she said that she could do one with her hands tied behind her back and the other she thought she could probably do a good job. “He said that’s the one to do so I have always thought of him when I’m making decisions on what to choose to do because you grow with each play, with each part,” she said.

In acting, especially on TV, there is a lot of waiting around for roles so to supplement her career and keep her mind and hands busy, Dillon turned her longtime interest in herbs and homeopathy for healing into a side career. 

“I was very interested in herbs and all my friends would call me Dr. Dillon. I remember getting a birthday card from an old boyfriend I found years later and it read, ‘To My Favorite Witch Doctor.’” One day while sitting on set, for a role on Law & Order, she decided to go back to school. “I got my master’s degree in [East Asian] medicine and became a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and graduated in 1998,” she said. She maintained a practice in New York City up until the pandemic, when she closed it, but recently has begun seeing patients at her home again, after much cajoling from friends and friends of friends.

She said the two interests, helping people and acting, have sustained her over the years. “With acupuncture and herbs, I’m on a one-to-one journey with people healing them and with theater and film, it has been a journey of healing me,” she said. “So it’s actually been a wonderful balance of feeding my soul because in their own ways, they are both very healing.”