Linda Cardellini on ‘The Founder,’ Singing with… by Uinterview

The Founder, a biographical drama film directed by John Lee Hancock, tells the story of creation of the McDonald’s fast food chain. The movie follows the story of Ray Kroc, played by Michael Keaton, and his creation of one of the most successful fast food operations in the world. Linda Cardellini stars as Joan Smith, the McDonald’s CEO’s third wife. When Smith and Kroc first met, both were married to their spouses. Kroc had said in his autobiography that he was “stunned by her blond beauty,” and the two carried on a secret affair until they both divorced their spouses and married in 1969.

In an exclusive interview, Cardellini offers insight on Smith and Kroc’s relationship, as well as what it was like to sing with Michael Keaton.

Cardellini’s Exclusive Video Interview

Cardellini believes that a similarity of perspectives was the force that brought Smith and Kroc together. “I think they were excited by ideas, and I think they both grew beyond what was expected of them by being excited by those ideas, sort of the entrepreneurial spirit that they had. I think that excited them and each other, and I think she really truly listened to Ray, who always fancied himself an idea man,” Cardellini explained. “But they loved each other very much and the relationship was complex. But nonetheless they loved each other.”

The actress did her research before playing Smith, and remains very intrigued by the character.

“I watched YouTubes and I read a lot, and even still, now I’m fascinated with her,” she raved. “When he passed away and left her his fortune, she went and gave it all away. And I think that’s a really beautiful twist in the story. ”

While Cardellini thinks there can be a moral to be taken from the film, she believes it’s an ambiguous one. “[John Hancock and Robert] don’t exactly tell you how to feel about Ray. I think some people can walk away and think, ‘wow, what a wonderful business man’ and other people can walk away and say, ‘what a snake.'” she said. “It’s up to you which part of the story to relate to, and I think there is something about capitalism in that. You can be a great success on one hand, but at what cost?”

In one memorable scene, the actress plays the piano and sings alongside co-star Keaton. “To be able to sing in a film was really fun for me, and to be able to do that with Michael Keaton is beyond fun,” she gushed. “[Kroc] really did meet [Smith] when she was playing an organ at a restaurant. And I just think it’s romantic, in a way that it shouldn’t be, because they’re both married to other people, but it is still, somehow.”

The Founder was released nationwide on Jan. 20, 2017, and has grossed $12 million worldwide so far.

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Q: What drew Joan and Ray Kroc together? -

I think they were excited by ideas, and I think they both grew beyond what was expected of them by being excited by those ideas, sort of the entrepreneurial spirit that they had. I think that excited them and each other, and I think she really truly listened to Ray, who always fancied himself an idea man, but when you see the movie you realize it wasn't necessarily his idea that he made a fortune out of. But I think they were very different people but they loved each other very much and the relationship was complex. But nonetheless they loved each other.

Q: Did you research Joan Kroc before playing her? -

I watched YouTubes and I read a lot, and even still, now I'm fascinated with her, and I'm reading the book even though it won't help me for the part anymore, the movie's already in the can! But I'm fascinated by the idea of her because when he passed away and left her his fortune, she went and gave it all away. And I think that's a really beautiful twist in the story.

Q: What was it like to sing with Michael Keaton? -

Oh I was so excited. To be able to sing in a film was really fun for me, and to be able to do that with Michael Keaton is beyond fun, and I think it's just a wonderful introduction to who she was, because he really did meet her when she was playing an organ at a restaurant. And I just think it's romantic, in a way that it shouldn't be, because they're both married to other people, but it is still, somehow.

Q: Is there a moral behind the Ray Kroc story? -

I think it's there, if you want to take that away from it. I think the interesting thing that John Hancock did, and Robert with the script, is they don't exactly tell you how to feel about Ray. I think some people can walk away and think, "wow, what a wonderful business man" and other people can walk away and say, "what a snake." And I think the key is both. And it's up to you which part of the story to relate to, and I think there is something about capitalism in that. You can be a great success on one hand, but at what cost?