How Beyoncé and Bette Davis Inspired Da’Vine Joy Randolph as She Worked on The Holdovers

“Who runs the world? Mary!” Da’Vine Joy Randolph, the Golden Globe-nominated breakout star of ‘The Holdovers,’ says of her character

Da’Vine Joy Randolph is revealing some of the surprising influences behind her award-winning performance in The Holdovers.

“I think of Beyoncé,” says the actress, 37, when asked what inspired her portrayal of boarding school administrator Mary Lamb in the Alexander Payne-directed film.

In particular, she tells PEOPLE, the Destiny’s Child hit “Independent Women Part I” comes to mind. “She drinks, she curses and then there’s a sweet woman inside, too,” Randolph says.

Referencing another Beyoncé tune, she quips, “Who runs the world? Mary!”

For playing Mary, head cook of the fictional Barton Academy holding over for the 1970 winter break, the Pennsylvania native has earned a supporting actress Golden Globe nomination, National Board of Review win and more.

The Holdovers costars Paul Giamatti, who tells PEOPLE he connected instantly with his fellow Yale School of Drama graduate. “She and I are very similar in some ways,” the 56-year-old actor says.

Randolph says devising and inhabiting the “always put-together” Mary involved immersing herself in the movie’s 1970 aesthetic. “Snatching me into the period helped me really lock in with her,” she explains. “I love the details.”
She also loves the “heyday” of mid-century movies starring the likes of Bette Davis — another influence on her performance, the Only Murders in the Building star says.