Oscar winner Marsha Mason remembers future Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine telling her, “In order to keep working, it’s important to move into character work early because they don’t know what to do with you.”
It’s a key point in Forget the Ingénues; Cue the Grown-Ups, Patricia Cohen’s excellent piece in last weekend’s New York Times. “Unless a script calls for a bitter woman to be dumped by her husband,” she notes, “filmgoers have come to expect the kind of nature-defying casting decisions that had a then 28-year-old Angelina Jolie playing the mother of Colin Farrell, then 27, in the 2004 film Alexander. (Val Kilmer, then 45, was the father.) Such couplings are familiar: At 36, Anne Bancroft played the predatory Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967) [to Dustin Hoffman] although she was a mere six years older than Mr. Hoffman; in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Angela Lansbury, just three years older than Laurence Harvey, played his mother.”
On Broadway, however, “women can still be rock stars. Among the big-name talents from film and television who have appeared behind Broadway marquees this season are Joan Allen, Jane Fonda, Allison Janney, Susan Sarandon and Kristin Scott Thomas.” For more of Ms. Cohen’s story on women who rule the Great White Way, click here.
Meanwhile, let me give the last word to the hottest young actress in Hollywood, Amy Adams, who co-starred with Meryl Streep in Doubt and does it again in the upcoming Julia & Julia.
“Sooo thrilling,” says Amy, with just a hint of sarcasm, “that every now and then, the world rediscovers that there’s a female audience. Oh, my God! Women go to the movies!”
And do they ever.
* * *
GOING WHERE HE’S NEVER GONE BEFORE: Big-screen favourite Bruce Greenwood’s role of Captain Pike in the new Star Trek prequel was originally played in the pilot episodes of the original series by
Jeffrey Hunter. ) After screening the vintage episodes, Greenwood says he realized pretty quickly that the dilemma that Jeffrey Hunter’s Pike faced is very different from what his Pike faces. Hunter’s Pike, he explains, is conflicted over whether or not he will remain with Starfleet. “And, the Pike that I play has no such dilemma. My Pike’s dilemma is more about whether or not to trust the young Kirk.” In a Sharp magazine interview with writer Cliff Ford, Greenwood confirms he’s signed for director Bruce Beresford’s next opus, Mao’s Last Dancer. Based on dancer Li Cunxin’s autobiography, the film shows how a poor, 11-year-old Li was taken from his tiny Chinese village to Beijing to study ballet. Years later, during a visit to Texas, Li falls for an American woman, defects and becomes a principal dancer for the Houston and Australian Ballet. Greenwood portrays Ben Stevenson, the Houston Ballet’s artistic director, who was instrumental in Li’s successful career. And you can read more of the Sharp interview with Canuck crowd-pleaser Greenwood right here.
* * *
THE MOTHER OF THEM ALL?: She killed her own children in a jealous rage as Medea. She played mom to Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs in a hostile white neighborhood in the much-lauded revival of A Raisin In the Sun.
She juggled a law practice, five children and Bill Cosby on the megahit Cosby Show. Tonight on Broadway, following in the footsteps of Deanna Dunagan and her successor followed by Estelle Parsons, Phylicia Rashad takes over the role of Violet Weston, the brittle, uncensored drug-abusing matriarch of an Oklahoma family in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama August: Osage Country. In a remarkable display of “nontraditional” casting, Ms. Rashad’s stage persona must attempt to cope with a white stage family of three daughters, a husband, a sister and other relatives. Should be a fabulous night.