Saturday, August 20, 2016

Elizabeth Taylor: Republicans, Pride, and Love




Interview with Elizabeth Taylor
Conducted by James Grissom
Hotel Carlyle
New York City
1991



You know, Republicans weren't always so bad. Hell, I married one! But now they're growing so pinched and mean, envious and petty, like the extras on the set, giving the evil eye to the star.

If you live your life or craft a philosophy around the idea that you've been unfairly denied something, then you operate out of spite, and you take things away from people that you feel aren't deserving or they've got things that weren't fairly distributed. 

It's how you look at things. I can't sing, God knows, but I benefit from those who can. Would I try to take away the voice of Leontyne Price? The world wins because we have Leontyne Price. Or Olivier. Or Richard Burton. Or Picasso. Or Graham Greene. Is it fair that I can't do what they do? I don't deal with questions like that. I ask, Is it fair that I get to wallow in all that they've given me? Everybody is blessed by their gifts.

No one can take anything away from me, from anyone. But the world is now broken down the middle, with one side believing that their stuff is being purloined by another group.

I want a world, a government, that loves its people and takes care of them. I want a world that recognizes that the cost of ignoring the sick and the hungry and the uneducated is bigger  than any tax. I want a world that is safe, so we listen to those who can show us how to protect it. I want a world that is set, like a perfect gem, on the ideal setting, to display and to remind everyone that this is theirs, this is ours.

I want a world where you get older and have a little something set aside, and then you go out in the world and hold people, read to people, help people on the street. Did you see that yesterday when I helped that woman with her stuff? She didn't know--didn't give a damn--that I was Elizabeth Taylor. I was a pair of arms. I was someone who smelled good and gave a shit.


©  2016  James Grissom

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tennessee Williams: New Ways of Magic





Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans
1982


Whatever is magical in the world, whatever brings color and sound and light and joy, was brought into the center of living by those people curious enough--perhaps angry enough--to go to the edge of town, the forest, the river, and see what else was in the world. Someone recognized the boredom, the waste of sitting in the dark and merely living and invented the story and the song. Someone recognized that the mere act of procreation was insufficient, and love and seduction and play was invented.

We think of magic as a myth, a game, a trick, but it is magic that sustains us, and we must always find new ways to bring it into our lives.


©  2016  James Grissom

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Vivien Leigh: Vinegar and Hot Water


Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans
1982




Talent that is not honed against the sharp blade of some adversity is almost inevitably bland, if existent at all. Talent is born out of friction, fear, flight. We fight to get away from something--an illness; abuse; abandonment. A perfectly happy person--if one exists--sees no reason to dream or run. Vivien [Leigh] for instance, awoke every day seeking escape from so many things, and she poured everything into the arrangement of flowers; the making of lunch; the performance of a part; the setting of things on a table. She was on the run, baby. All the time. And the talent shone like the jewels she cleaned with vinegar and hot water. Vinegar and hot water! There's a title.


© 2016 James Grissom

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Katharine Hepburn: Love Yourself

Photograph, from 1934, by George Hoyningen-Huene


Interview with Katharine Hepburn
Conducted by James Grissom
New York City
1990


Charity and love and care and education--they all begin at home and within. If you're not in your own corner--and strongly in your corner--then you can't be much of anything at anything. I think people back away from feeling this way because they think it very conceited and unhealthy, but it is the only way. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Then give yourself--all of yourself--to the work and the others doing it with you."





©  2016  James Grissom


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Uta Hagen on Time: Gravity and Anger

Uta Hagen in her dressing room at the Lyceum Theatre, where she was appearing in Clifford Odets' The Country Girl, 1950.



Interview with Uta Hagen
Conducted by James Grissom
New York City
1998


We talk about the development and the care of an actor's body and voice and mind, and this is all vital, and I am seeing an increasing body of dumb and incurious actors. How the hell can I teach or guide someone who doesn't know what I'm talking about when I mention Feydau or Sheridan or, God help me, Shaw? The well of their curiosity is shockingly shallow, and extends only as far back as the last Tony Award presentations. They know Tennessee [Williams] and [Edward] Albee from the movies made of their plays, and they show no interest in reading all of their plays, or finding out who their influences were, or those playwrights who came after them and bore the marks of these playwrights. I can't do anything with these actors.

But beyond the ignorance and the slack minds and the slack bodies, I can't work with anyone, in any field, who does not understand that time is limited; time is slipping away; you have a good time--a time filled with good opportunities--if you husband it properly. I don't know if I'm just dark and brooding and impatient, but I was very aware--at twenty, which is when I get a lot of students--that I had to move well and quickly. 

Time must be courted, seduced, manipulated, wrung out. The only things that frequently visit the lazy are gravity and anger.



©  2016  James Grissom

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tennessee Williams: We Do Not Give Up




Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
By Telephone
November, 1982


We can never be resigned. I think the feeling of resignation, of being unable to care, is the end stage of depression, perhaps of shock. I'm not sure, even though I've coursed through every emotional stage there is. But resignation is unacceptable. Resignation is that calm people are alleged to feel right before they freeze to death or drown. It is a giving up, and the act of giving up is decidedly anti-human. We do not give up. We can wail and we can joke and we can cry, but we have to do something. When the world appears to be most insane, we can't go inside and hide and let the jackals eat up the orchards. We have to respond as humans, which is to say with kindness and wit and caring.

We do not--ever--give up. So pull yourself together and get back to work.



©  2016   James Grissom

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Autographed Copies of FOLLIES OF GOD





Autographed copies of Follies of God can be purchased directly from the author. The book is $20, plus five dollars shipping and handling.

Please send your requests to albersnyc@gmail.com