Melissa Leo pulls no punches, whether she’s playing Alice Ward, the bedraggled manager-mother of Mark Walhberg in “The Fighter,” or Toni Bernette, the underpaid attorney and unappreciated mom in HBO’s “Treme.” I’ve come to love her (in the way I love fellow bad-ass Helen Mirren) a. because of the grit and emotion she brings to any character she plays and b. because she’s a woman of a certain age who manages to score great roles, no small feat in age and looks-obsessed Hollywood.

Yesterday, The New York Times published a Q and A with Leo in its Sunday Magazine. In it, readers learn that Leo smokes because she’s lonely, has imaginary boyfriends on the set (who doesn’t) and once paid for her own glamour shots when it became clear that major magazines didn’t see her as cover girl material. It’s an interview that’ll make you believe in girl power…especially if you’re a girl.

The next season of “Treme” starts September 23.

Leo’s latest movie “Francine” (in which she plays an ex-con) is out in select theaters.

Other recent articles about Melissa Leo: “Melissa Leo: I’m no Feminist”

Huffington Post: “Melissa Leo . . . On Her Busy Career . . . and Winning an Oscar.”