Saturday, July 9, 2011

NUNN ON ONE Shirley MacLaine: Legend discusses films, androgyny

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Named after Shirley Temple, Shirley MacLaine has had a life growing up in show business since she was very young. Nominated many times for Academy Awards before winning for Terms of Endearment, from The Trouble with Harry, her first film, to Steel Magnolias and Postcards From the Edge, this actress knows how to create memorable roles.
She just released her book I'm Over All That and Other Confessions. She talked about what she is over these days.
Windy City Times: Hello, Mrs. MacLaine.
Shirley MacLaine: Hey, Jerry. How are you doing?
Windy City Times: I am good. I am writing at travel story in Mexico so wanted to call you up while I was here.
Shirley MacLaine: Oh, golly. Be careful down there.
Windy City Times: I wrote a story in New Mexico recently where you live. The locals told me that you shop at Whole Foods there.
Shirley MacLaine: [ Laughs ] Oh, yeah; sure I do!
Windy City Times: I was in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Truth or Consequences.
Shirley MacLaine: Don't you just love it there? It is so beautiful.
Windy City Times: It's amazing. You have a big house there?
Shirley MacLaine: Yes, I actually have a house in Santa Fe and a ranch out in Abiquiu. I do my past life seminars out at my ranch.
Windy City Times: There are a lot of ghosts out there, aren't there?
Shirley MacLaine: Well, there is a lot of energy that is still alive. Well, everything is alive. That is why Georgia O' Keefe was so fascinated with it. Jerry, you know she had a sense of being able to feel other dimensional frequencies. That is why she painted it all of the time.
Windy City Times: I went to her museum while I was there and it was breathtaking.
Shirley MacLaine: Yes, it is. She was quite a person. She was not as much of a female liberator as you think. Well, she thought she was.
Windy City Times: For her time, maybe…
Shirley MacLaine: Well, maybe but even then she was always under the influence of men really.
Windy City Times: How do you stay so young? Is it diet or hiking with your dog Terry?
Shirley MacLaine: I am not so sure I stay young. [ Laughs ] But I will tell you, once you decide that life itself is show business and everything you do is a theatrical choice, an act, there is no point in getting upset about anything.
Windy City Times: I liked in your book how you don't get caught up in the whole celebrity business.
Shirley MacLaine: Yeah, I never have. I don't know why. Well, maybe because I am a dancer so that is basically it. I am disciplined and a team player. I never did like the red carpet stuff. I didn't impress the designers either because they didn't want me to wear their dresses.
Windy City Times: One of your fans wanted me to mention Sweet Charity and how underrated it is.
Shirley MacLaine: It was Fosse's first picture. We had quite a history together. He found me in Pajama Game and then I brought him out to Hollywood to do movies. Lew Wasserman did not believe that he was going to be able to direct and thought of him as just a choreographer. I knew how he felt about Fellini and what a fan he was of some of the Italian greats. I just spoke to Nicole the other day about something that she is doing. To have a conversation with his daughter so many years later was really fascinating for me.
Windy City Times: What movie role has been the most similar to you as a person?
Shirley MacLaine: I would Aurora Greenway was quite similar to me from Terms of Endearment. I won the Oscar for it and I am not sure that I was acting. I was just playing myself.
Windy City Times: It is such a compliment that you won an award for it.
Shirley MacLaine: Yes, it was. She was an extraordinary character. She was my favorite by the way.
Windy City Times: Are you working on current movie projects?
Shirley MacLaine: I am going to do one in August. We are waiting for it all to come together. But my date is on August 22nd to start that. Then I have another one in November. I am writing another book. I like to work, well not work so much but I like to be creative. That is basically what I do.
Windy City Times: That might be what keeps you young!
Shirley MacLaine: That is probably it, absolutely.
Windy City Times: Pictures seem to be very important to you and you have a whole wall of life in your house. Do you have a backup in case of a fire?
Shirley MacLaine: Oh, sure I do. Of course I do and put them on digital because you never know what can happen. I don't even like to think about that. They will be all right if anything happens.
Windy City Times: In the book you write about different lifetimes, explaining homosexuality and transgender. That is an interesting idea.
Shirley MacLaine: Well, it is and I think it's true. More and more people that experience this way of thought are seeing that the soul itself is androgynous. It is a perfect match and balance of yin and yang. Those are the only two energies, as I learned it, in the cosmos. So okay you have a soul with a typically balanced yin and yang then why wouldn't you want your body to reflect that perfection. I think that is what a lot of these people are doing. Then I have the audacity to say this is what I believe to be in a body that is both or I am in the wrong body and want to switch that. In some ways that is quite courageous.
Windy City Times: Speaking of that, I just met Chaz a week ago.
Shirley MacLaine: I am very interested by what he is doing. I think his interviews are very insightful. What did you think when you talked with him?
Windy City Times: I don't think Chaz is super-comfortable with interviews sometimes, so it is very brave to put himself out there like that.
Shirley MacLaine: He didn't too uncomfortable with some that I saw so I was quite impressed.
Windy City Times: You have a variety of fans, including many gay fans.
Shirley MacLaine: What is the difference? People are people. I think they like my directness, everybody does, including old ladies!
Windy City Times: [ Laughs ] That is refreshing to hear.
Shirley MacLaine: When you get to be my age it is stupid not to be direct or say exactly how you feel, honestly.
Windy City Times: Amen. So what are you currently over today?
Shirley MacLaine: Well, today I went for a long hike with Terry, climbing up a mountain and I didn't like it at all. So I am over trying to be thin. I am going to take it easy for a bit.
Windy City Times: Are you over Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Shirley MacLaine: Man, is that some story! Talk about theatrical, whoa! I can't even imagine what he was thinking. Okay, stepping out of the marriage but good lord in their own house! To be having babies at the same time, that is the epitome of male power isn't it? To say that your housekeeper is pregnant and your wife with your own sperm, wow! That's an Austrian. [ Both laugh. ]
Windy City Times: You came in for Oprah Winfrey but when are you coming back to Chicago?
Shirley MacLaine: Oh, I don't know. We will see what happens. When there is something there for me to do. I am having a good time doing my show around the country.
Windy City Times: Tell our readers a little about your show.
Shirley MacLaine: It is really good and the audience loves it. I tell old stories about old Hollywood. I find myself recalling things up on the stage that I hadn't voiced or talked about. What the hell? I just tell them what happened and what it really was like. I am having a good time with it. I miss the live audience.
Windy City Times: People can follow the tour on your website, right?
Shirley MacLaine: Oh, sure.
Windy City Times: It has been 10 years for Life is a Bowl of Cherries.
Shirley MacLaine: [ Laughs ] Is it 10? I don't know.
Windy City Times: It was the tenth anniversary recently.
Shirley MacLaine: Oh, yeah; that's nice.
Windy City Times: It has been such a pleasure talking to you while I am down in Mexico.
Shirley MacLaine: Well, you be careful down there all right? I worry about anyone that goes to Mexico now. I am not kidding. I hope it's worth it.
Windy City Times: You are more worried about me than my own mother. I am trying to encourage people to come down here.
Shirley MacLaine: Wow, you have some job ahead of you.


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