Mildred Pierce throws her husband Bert out because of his affair with a local widow. The harsh economic times have taken a toll on Bert's once lucrative real estate business and Mildred is forced to hunt for work to support herself and two daughters - 11-year-old Veda and 7-year-old Ray. She visits an employment agency on the advice of her neighbor Lucy Gessler, but refuses to consider jobs she feels are beneath her. Flattered by his attention, Mildred starts a casual affair with Wally Burgan, a lawyer who recently squeezed Bert out of his business. After cutting short a job interview with the arrogant fiancée of a movie director, Mildred has lunch at a local diner. When a waitress is fired, Mildred convinces the diner's manager Ida to give her a shot. Later, Mildred tells Lucy she can't suffer the humiliation of waiting on people, but Lucy insists she must. Mildred swears her friend to secrecy, not wanting Veda to know what her mother has been reduced to.
Mildred's finances get a boost when she starts selling her pies at the diner. When Veda shames Mildred about being a waitress, Mildred insists she has bigger plans to open her own restaurant. With Wally's help, she devises a plan to convert an abandoned Pierce model home into a chicken-and-waffle restaurant. One afternoon while still working at the diner, Mildred impulsively joins a handsome stranger, Monty Beragon, on a trip to the beach. Returning from her trip, she discovers her youngest daughter Ray has taken ill. Mildred rushes to the hospital but Ray does not survive.
In the wake of Ray's death, Mildred pushes forward with preparations for her new restaurant. On opening night there is an unexpected surge of patrons and Ida, Mildred's former boss from the diner, steps in to help, whipping the staff into shape. Among the guests is Monty, who is stunned to learn of Ray's passing from Veda (who is impressed that her mother knows the Pasadena playboy). As Monty and Mildred spend more time together, he urges Mildred to hire a new piano teacher for Veda. Mildred hatches a plan to save for a new grand piano for her daughter, but with the repeal of Prohibition, opts to add a bar to the restaurant, delaying her gift. When Veda doesn't get the piano she expected, she takes her anger out on her mother, revealing inappropriate conversations the young girl has had with Monty about his affair with Mildred. Furious, Mildred reveals that she has been carrying Monty who has fallen on hard times. Driving through a dangerous storm, Mildred confronts Monty at his Pasadena mansion on New Year's Eve, ending their relationship after a passionate argument.
Four Years Later (1937-1938).
After adding a Beverly Hills luncheonette to her successful Glendale restaurant, Mildred schemes with Lucy, who has become her junior business partner, to open a new oceanfront seafood and steak restaurant in Laguna Beach. But Mildred's business success is tempered by a growing rift with Veda, who despairs when her longtime piano teacher dies and a prospective replacement, well-known conductor Carlo Treviso, is dismissive of her talent. Stung by rejection, Veda starts hanging out with a society crowd, including Sammy Forrester, whose mother visits Mildred to discuss their children's engagement. When Mildred confronts Veda, she discovers her daughter's plan to pressure Sammy's family to provide her with money to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Doubting that Veda is even pregnant, Mildred throws her out of the house. After months with no communication, Mildred learns from Bert about Veda's success as an opera singer. Hearing Veda sing on the radio, Mildred is stunned by her daughter's talent -- and determined to win her back.
When her initial attempts to reconcile with Veda fail, Mildred turns a chance encounter with Monty into a marriage proposal. Overextending herself financially, Mildred purchases Monty's family estate in Pasadena and they begin an expensive renovation. Veda's career as a coloratura soprano thrives, but Mildred is rebuffed by Carlo Treviso when she attempts to pay for Veda's training. Veda finally responds to Mildred's attempts to reunite, showing up at a grand celebration for Mildred and Monty at the mansion. Mildred is forced to deal with the financial crisis she has created by borrowing too heavily from her business when Wally threatens legal action on behalf of her creditors. Urged by Bert to ask Veda for a loan, Mildred returns home to find her daughter in bed with Monty and nearly chokes Veda to death in her rage. With mother and daughter estranged again, Mildred reunites with Bert. Veda shows up at a modest celebration at the Pierce Glendale home to bid farewell to her parents as she heads off to start her new life in New York...with Monty.
Oscar® and Golden Globe winner Kate Winslet ("Revolutionary Road," "The Reader") stars in the title role of the HBO Miniseries presentation Mildred Pierce, along with SAG Award nominee Guy Pearce ("The Hurt Locker," "Memento"), Golden Globe nominee Evan Rachel Wood ("The Wrestler," HBO's "True Blood"), Gotham Award winner Brían O'Byrne ("Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "FlashForward"), SAG Award nominee James LeGros ("Skateland," "Mercy"), Oscar® nominee Melissa Leo ("Frozen River," HBO's "Treme"), Oscar® and Golden Globe nominee and Emmy® winner Mare Winningham ("George Wallace," "Georgia") and Golden Globe and Emmy® nominee Hope Davis (HBO's "The Special Relationship" and "In Treatment").
Directed by Oscar®, Golden Globe and WGA nominee Todd Haynes ("I'm Not There," "Far from Heaven") from a script by Haynes and Jon Raymond, Mildred Pierce is the epic story of a proud single mother struggling to earn her daughter's love during the Great Depression in middle-class Los Angeles. The five-part miniseries, produced in association with MGM, will follow the story laid out by James M. Cain in his 1941 novel of the same name. Emmy® nominees Christine Vachon ("I'm Not There," HBO's "Mrs. Harris") and Pam Koffler (HBO's "Mrs. Harris" and "The Notorious Bettie Page"), John Wells ("Southland," "The Company Men") and Todd Haynes executive producer two-time Emmy® winner Ilene Landress (HBO's "The Sopranos") co-executive produces.
Six-time Academy Award® nominee and 2009 Oscar® winner for her starring role in “The Reader,” Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce) also took home two Golden Globe Awards in 2009, for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture for “Revolutionary Road” and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for “The Reader.” A SAG Award winner for “The Reader” and “Sense and Sensibility,” Winslet has also starred in such films as “Titanic,” “Finding Neverland,” “The Holiday,” “Little Children,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Iris,” “Enigma,” “War Game,” “Quills” and “Heavenly Creatures.” Her next films include Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” and the feature film adaptation of “God of Carnage.”
Guy Pearce (Monty Beragon) has amassed an impressive list of film credits since his scene-stealing performance in the 1994 film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Most recently, Pearce starred in “The King’s Speech,” earning a Best Supporting Actor nomination from the British Independent Film Awards and nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Detroit Film Critics Society and Phoenix Film Critics Society for Best Acting Ensemble. His other feature credits include the Academy Award® winner “The Hurt Locker,” “Animal Kingdom,” “The Road,” “I Am You,” “Bedtime Stories,” “Traitor,” “Factory Girl,” “First Snow,” “The Proposition,” “The Time Machine,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Memento,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Woundings” and “L.A. Confidential,” for which he shared a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. Pearce’s upcoming films include “The Hungry Rabbit Jumps,” “Lock Out” and “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.”
Evan Rachel Wood's (Veda Pierce) starring performance in the film "Thirteen" earned her multiple award nominations, including Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association and MTV Movie Awards. She also won a Prism Award for the role, as well as Breakout Performance awards from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society and the Phoenix Film Critics Society. Wood's other films include "Whatever Works," "The Wrestler," "Across the Universe," "Running with Scissors," "The Upside of Anger," "The Missing," "Practical Magic" and the upcoming "The Conspirator." She has most recently been seen in HBO's critically acclaimed series "True Blood." Her other television credits include "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "The West Wing," "Once and Again," "Touched by an Angel" and "The Profiler."
For her work in “The Fighter,” Melissa Leo won an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress, a Best Supporting Actress Award from the New York Film Critics Circle and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, SAG Award and Critics’ Choice Award. She also received Oscar® and SAG nominations for her starring role in “Frozen River,” for which she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and a Spotlight Award from the National Board of Review, among countless other accolades, as well as universal critical acclaim. Leo shared a Best Ensemble Acting award from the Phoenix Film Critics Society for her work in “21 Grams,” opposite Benicio del Toro and Sean Penn. Her most recent films include “Conviction,” opposite Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, and “Welcome to the Rileys,” opposite James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart. Her other notable film work includes “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” starring opposite Dwight Yoakam and Tommy Lee Jones, and “Hide and Seek,” starring opposite Robert De Niro. Leo can be seen in the upcoming films “Red State,” written and directed by Kevin Smith, and “Seven Days in Utopia.” Her television credits include the current HBO series “Treme,” and she is known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Detective Kay Howard on “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
James LeGros (Wally Burgan) will next be seen opposite Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski in “Everybody Loves Whales.” His other feature credits include “Zodiac,” “Vantage Point,” “Psycho,” “Enemy of the State,” “Living in Oblivion,” for which he garnered an IFP Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and “Drugstore Cowboy.” Among his television credits are “Mercy,” “Sleeper Cell,” “Law & Order,” “ER” and “Ally McBeal.”
Brían F. O’Byrne (Bert Pierce) is a Tony Award winner for “Frozen” and received four other Tony nominations, for “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” “The Lonesome West,” “Doubt” and “The Coast of Utopia.” His feature film credits include “Brooklyn’s Finest,” “The International,” “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” “No Reservations,” “Bug,” “The New World,” “In an Instant,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Blackwater Lightship,” “Easy,” “Intermission,” “The Mapmaker” and “Bandits.” His television credits include the HBO series “Oz,” plus “FlashForward,” “Brotherhood,” “The American Experience: Alexander Hamilton” and “Law & Order: SVU.”
Mare Winningham has appeared in more than fifty television films and mini-series. For her performance in TNT's "George Wallace," she received an Emmy® Award as well as Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations. Mare also received an Emmy® Award for "Amber Waves" and has been Emmy®-nominated for the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations of "Love is Never Silent" and "The Boy's Next Door." Additionally, she starred in such telefilms and mini-series as "Off The Minnesota Strip", "Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues", "Everything that Rises", "Eye on the Sparrow" and "The Thornbirds." In 2003, Mare made her television series debut in David E. Kelley's "The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire" and has since recurred on shows such as "Grey's Anatomy" and "24." She received a Daytime Emmy® Nomination for her performance in Showtime's "Maldonado Miracle" and starred in "The Magic of Ordinary Days" for the Hallmark Channel.
For her performance in the feature film "Georgia," Mare garnered Academy Award® and SAG Award nominations and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her other feature credits include: "Brothers", "Swing Vote," "Wyatt Earp", "St. Elmo's Fire", "Turner and Hooch", "Made In Heaven", "One Trick Pony", "The War", "Miracle Mile", "Shy People."
Mare's stage work has included the Atlantic Theater Co. musical "10 Million Miles", for which she received a Drama Desk nomination and the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, as well as the recent Off-Broadway hit "After the Revolution" at Playwrights Horizons and Williamstown Theater Festival. Other stage credits include "The Glass Menagerie", "Bonnie and Clyde: the Musical", and the west coast premiere of "Sideman". An accomplished singer-songwriter, Ms. Winningham has released three CD's, and performs in clubs and venues throughout the country.
Hope Davis is a celebrated actress of stage, television and screen. She played Hillary Clinton in the HBO Films Presentation of The Special Relationship and was last seen on TV in the second season of "In Treatment" in the role of Mia, which earned her an Emmy® nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Most recently Davis received a Tony nomination for the 2009 Tony Award-winning play "God of Carnage," opposite James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeff Daniels. Her most recent film credits include "Genova," "Synecdoche, New York," "The Hoax," "The Nines," "Charlie Bartlett" and "Driving Lessons." She was also part of an ensemble cast of the series "Six Degrees."
In 2003, Davis was named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle for her work in two of the year's most critically acclaimed independent features: "The Secret Lives of Dentists" and the Oscar®-nominated HBO Films production "American Splendor," for which she also received a Golden Globe nomination. The film was the LA Film Critics' Best Picture of 2003 and also captured the Grand Jury Prize - Dramatic Competition at Sundance, the Best Film Un Certain Regard in Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize in Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival.
Davis' other film credits include a trio of independent hits - "The Daytrippers," "The Myth of Fingerprints" and "Next Stop Wonderland" - as well as "Infamous," "The Matador," "The Weatherman," "Proof," "Hearts in Atlantis," "Final," "Joe Gould's Secret," "The Imposters," "Arlington Road," "Mumford" and "About Schmidt," which won the Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Picture of 2002 award.
Davis' theatre credits include "Camino Real" at the famed Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Lincoln Center productions of "Spinning into Butter," "Two Shakespearean Actors" and "Ivanov." She has also appeared in numerous off-Broadway plays, including "Pterodactyls," "The Food Chain," "The Iceman Cometh" and David Mamet's "Speed the Plow," directed by Joel Schumacher.