Marian Seldes on Frances Sternhagen: Fully, Beautifully Present

Photograph by Alen MacWeeney/2002/

Notes from a Conversation with Marian Seldes
Conducted by James Grissom
New York City

She represents, to me, joy. Joy in living; joy in acting; joy in giving; joy in retreating to those things, those people, who are important to her. I trust her on the stage and I trust her in any role I am privileged to have her play in my life. She is a friend not only to me, but to everyone who may need her at a particular time, and she seeks these times, acts quickly and kindly and efficiently, and moves on to her next role in the world.

She is a wonder.

Nothing is more extraordinary or frightening than utter truth, and I saw her reach that place--that dark, horrible place--night after night in Equus. I sat on that stage, just a few feet from her, and watched as anger and fear and resignation consumed her body as she filled that role. It seemed to take nothing away from her, but it shattered me; it shattered audiences.

I think she's extraordinary.

Intelligent in what she loves and how; intelligent in how she expresses it and when; intelligent in her entrances and her exits. She makes both brilliantly and suddenly.

She is fully, beautifully present in whatever she is doing.

© 2014  James Grissom


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