Netflix’s Maid Creator Talks Casting Mother-Daughter Duo Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell

Inspired by the New York Times best-selling memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, the new Netflix series MAID follows Alex (Margaret Qualley), a single mother who cleans houses to make ends meet as she escapes an abusive relationship and overcomes homelessness. Providing both assistance and hindrance to Alex along the way is her mother, Paula (Andie MacDowell). The series’ creator Molly Smith Metzler spoke about casting real-life mother and daughter Andie MacDowell and Margaret Qualley in these emotional roles.

Every moment of MAID is told from the point of view of Alex. She is desperate but determined and has a lot to learn all the way but doesn’t back down to the multiple doors being slammed in her face. Margaret Qualley, who portrays Alex, was the first cast in the series. Creator Molly Smith Metzler shared the following about finding Qualley:

We knew going in that this show would never leave Alex's point of view and that we were going to spend 10 hours in the point of view of our lead character. So we started with the casting of her because you know, creatively, that was sort of the spine of the whole thing. So when we started, we started sort of thinking about it, it's such a hard role because you have to love her. But it's also so real, like, you're kind of with her for making toast, you know, you're just with her all the time. So when Margaret Qualley read for us she just brought the house down and I think she was so raw and vulnerable and unaffected. It was just beautiful. So we fell in love with her and then we were so lucky cause she wanted to do it.

As Molly Smith Metzler points out, when spending this much time with a single character it’s important for the audience to love them. It’s not hard to love a single mother doing everything she can to provide for her child, but part of what’s great about the story of MAID is that Alex makes some questionable decisions. Margaret Qualley plays Alex in a way that we empathize with her even when she’s doing something we don’t approve of, and, as Metzler mentioned, we’re even with Alex in the monotony of her meals and commutes to work, and Qualley makes these moments interesting as well.

While fighting to make a life for herself and her daughter, Alex is also tasked with caring for her mother, Paula, who has an undiagnosed mood disorder. Paula loves her granddaughter and is sometimes available to watch her, but other times she disappears for weeks on end and can’t be reached. She repeatedly trusts the wrong people and loses a great deal of control over her own life and doesn’t believe she has a problem. Margaret Qualley’s mother Andie MacDowell is beyond perfect in the role of Paule. Here’s what creator Molly Smith Metzler shared of casting MacDowell:

So it was very easy to cast Alex once we met Margaret, then once we got Margaret, you know, immediately, we all kind of, of course, we were sort of talking about Andie, because how can you not? It's her real mom, but we all sort of yielded because we didn't know what Margaret's relationship [with Andie] was. And we were waiting to see if she would bring up her mom. And she did. And so that was, that piece fell together really easily, too, because we were sort of talking about who would play her, and then suddenly Margaret said, ‘I want it to be my mom.’ We were like, yes!

So the filmmakers wanted Andie MacDowell in MAID, and so did her daughter, Margaret Qualley, and then all the pieces fell into place. There is something magical about watching these two on screen - the way they play off one another’s energy heightens the emotion and believability of the story. All ten episodes of MAID are now streaming on Netflix.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.