Like the real-life nomads in the movie, the Oscar winner is playing a version of herself.
What was only peripherally hinted at in Nomadland is confirmed in this deleted scene, debuting exclusively on ET: Frances McDormand is playing "Frances McDormand."
It's the result of working with writer-director Chloé Zhao, who up until Nomadland had largely cast nonprofessional actors and built characters for them inspired by their own lives. Nomadland is adapted from a nonfiction book of the same name and does, in fact, feature a number of real-life nomads playing versions of themselves onscreen.
Which is how McDormand ended up playing a version of herself, too, though the character goes by the nickname Fern. "It's very interesting, the layers of it," Zhao told The New York Times. "Fran is playing Fern, but even the name 'Fern' came from herself and who she thinks she might be if she hit the road."
In the cut scene, Fern has an encounter with the police -- neighbors reported Fern for sleeping in her van -- and as the officer calls in her ID information, he confirms her real name is Frances and she nearly shares the same birthday as the real McDormand. The exchange winkingly ends with the officer telling her, "You look familiar."
"Yeah? I know," Fern replies. "People tell me that, and I don't know why."
Nomadland's home release comes after it earned six nominations at this year's Oscars, including for Best Picture, Best Director for Zhao and Best Actress for McDormand. The film previously won the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion, TIFF's People's Choice Award and top awards from the Golden Globes and Producers Guild Awards.
Nomadland is available digitally on April 13 and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 27.