Interview: Golden Arm’s Mary Holland Discusses Arm Wrestling & Improv

Mary Holland stars in Golden Arm, a new road tripping buddy comedy with Betsy Sodaro that dives into the dysfunctional world of women’s arm wrestling. Ahead of its release via video on demand services on Friday, April 30, Managing Editor Tyler Treese got to speak with the talented actress. Holland opened up about her improv comedy background, her friendship with co-star Sodaro and the nuances found in competitive arm wrestling.

Check out our Mary Holland interview below!

Tyler Treese: You have such great chemistry with Betsy Sodaro. Can you discuss your relationship on the set and what it was like working with her?

Mary Holland: Betsy is one of my dearest friends. We’ve known each other for over 10 years at this point. We’re both in the improv comedy scene in Los Angeles. S when I knew that she was going to be playing the role of Danny and our dear friend Maureen [Bharoocha] was going to be directing it. It was a no-brainer to just jump on board and try to play now. I leapt at the opportunity to do a buddy comedy with Betsy Sodaro. Are you kidding? What a dream.

You mentioned your improv background. Were there many improvised scenes in Golden Arm?

Yeah, we were very much encouraged by Maureen, our director, to come into every scene with our own ideas and be able to feel the freedom to play and collaborate and riff off each other. Maureen filled the cast with a lot of improv comedians or people who have improv backgrounds. So we were very much encouraged in that collaborative improv spirit to come together and work off the script and off each other to make those moments feel really spontaneous and alive and just play with each other.

What does it mean to be in a film with a cast of so many hilarious women in it and for you to be the lead there?

Oh my gosh. I can’t believe I got this opportunity. I’m so grateful for it and was constantly in awe of the rest of the cast. I mean, every single person in this movie is so spectacular and brings such specificity to each of their roles. I was so honored to get to do that and to get to play off Betsy Sodaro, who I think is a comedic genius, and getting to play her best friend. It was just a huge honor.

I found it really funny that in Blunt Talk, there was an arm-wrestling scene with you in it, and then you wound up starring in an arm-wrestling film. Was that just a fun coincidence, or were you approached because of that scene? How did that happen?

I have been working towards being in an arm wrestling movie all my life. That was just a coincidence. I remember Jonathan Ames wrote that scene for Shelly, my character on Blunt Talk. That was a very fun scene to have this big arm wrestling match at this huge wild party. Then years later, to get to lean into that even more and go on this journey now to become a champion arm wrestler. It was amazing. Very satisfying to connect those dots, for sure.

Golden Arm Mary Holland Interview

The film’s positive message of reinvention and how your character goes from a struggling Baker to a powerful, more confident woman. Can you speak to your character and just the message of the theme overall?

Yeah. I was still drawn to Melanie because, as you said when we meet her, she’s very much a woman living her life on the sidelines and kind of consumed with self-doubt, worried that her choices that she makes and her needs aren’t important and are the wrong ones. So going on this journey with her, and it’s all at the encouragement of Danny, her best friend, who I think sees her for who she is and knows her potential better than Melanie does even. Going on this journey with her, where she discovers that she does have things to offer and she is powerful, and she can fight for herself and her worth in this world. I think that’s such a beautiful journey to watch a character go on, and it’s very relatable, and especially for me. I totally understood that journey and the vulnerability of putting yourself out there and saying you want something and saying you’re going to go for it is very scary. It takes a lot of courage. It was really satisfying to get to play a character who discovered that within herself.

Arm wrestling is such a simple thing. Everybody knows how to arm wrestle, but we see in the film that there are many nuances. Did you work on actually learning arm-wrestling technique for the film?

I did. There is a lot of nuances. There’s a lot of regulations with arm wrestling, and we shot the scenes with Dot-Marie Jones, who was just so amazing and so valuable to us, to the whole cast and the whole crew. She educated all of us on proper arm-wrestling technique and form and the rules and the regulations. She’s a professional arm wrestler and has won all of these championships. She brought all these belts and trophies with her to the set that we were just very lucky to have her. She trained Melanie in the movie, but then she also just trained all of us on that as we were shooting those scenes and how to do this properly. So I did learn a ton about proper arm-wrestling technique.

I love how much character there is with arm wrestling. You go from Freaked Out to a baker character. The pro wrestling influence is very high. Is that something you’d be interested in doing pro wrestling?

Oh my gosh. That is one of the most joyful parts of this movie. It’s so celebratory to see all these women who have adopted their own arm-wrestling personas and these alter egos. It’s so fun to watch, and it’s such a pure expression for these women of what they want to bring to the “ring.” I do think that, like with pro wrestling, there’s a very similar thing there, and hey, I’m not opposed to dabbling. I think I would need to train a little bit more than my arm, but I’m open to it. I’m open to it.

Golden Arm Mary Holland Interview

You were in one of my favorite shows, Comedy Bang! Bang! Do you have any like fun stories of that?

I mean, every story from Comedy Bang! Bang! is a fun story. It is a wild ride every single time. It’s just such a blast. Yeah. I, there’s so many stories…

Well, I had a really joyful time playing this character, um, when Kristen Ritter was a guest on the show. I played this character that insisted on using techniques from the animal kingdom to assert dominance in social situations. So like exposing my belly and doing these ridiculous things. One wonderful experience from that was getting to sit next to Kristen Ritter and make her laugh. That was something I’ll carry with me. I loved it.

There are a lot of great comedies coming out. So just give your pitch as to why our readers should check out Golden Arm? I’ll have a review up later this week, but I feel like they’d like to hear it from you.

Watch Golden Arm because it’s very fun. It’s very funny. You get to step into this vibrant, colorful world, and you get to follow these two friends as they reconnect and re-fall in love with each other. It’s a very relatable story. And at the heart of it is a love story between these two best friends that I think is super special. Also, it’s kind of like over the top, and how many movies can you say are like over the top? So just go watch it.