Tuesday Weld: Terribly, Beautifully Committed

Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans

Well, Gerry [Page] was only on the line in certain parts: She risked nothing of herself in something like those comedies she made or that Disney film I actually sat through. [This is a reference to the 1967 film The Happiest Millionaire.]  She's wonderful and she's professional, but Gerry is violently intelligent and terribly protective of her psyche, so she gave nothing of herself in those roles--just her great technique. Tuesday Weld is incapable, I think, of rolling through a part with ease and detachment. I find her terribly, beautifully committed: She asks, almost always, within  a performance, Who [are] these people  , and why [do] they happen to be here, right now? There is lots of exposure in her acting, and very little show, as in showing off, showing up, showing some skin. [Elia] Kazan taught me that--the showing of someone rather than the revelation of someone. It can appear, for a time, to be good acting, but it is shallow, flashy--some heated action that fades quickly. Tuesday burns slowly and brightly, and it is terribly real. I have never seen her be anything but throbbingly alive, invested. Age and anger will make her ferocious as Amanda or Alexandra. Age will make her wiser, and wisdom always make us angry, because we learn what is real and what is possible, and the world shrinks. Everything shrinks and drops away, so we work in a small circle, plucking from a smaller inventory. But a mind like the one she has will always choose wisely, and that anger, in focus, aware of limitation, will be gorgeous.

On Looking for Mr. Goodbar:  The key thing about those performances, the brilliant dichotomy, is that Keaton's character, so needy, so aware of critical audiences in her life, always looks around and out, nervous, hungry, eager, while Tuesday is utterly inward, looking straight ahead to the next conquest, the next disappointment. Her character is unaware of any danger in life, because life, for the free and the beautiful, is always fairly easy. Things are given. Even when she notices the danger in that downstairs apartment--that fecal cocoon--there is only a question, a weak question, and on she goes. There are no steps taken to protect the doomed girl downstairs, because something or someone needs to be serviced, blown, used.

©  2015  James Grissom


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