If you were going to meet Shirley MacLane you would expect a funny, sharp gal who doesn’t beat around the bush, right? Well, guess what-that is exactly what you get, and then some. In The Last Word, the Hollywood legend plays Harriet, a retired businesswoman who is never afraid to take risk or be outspoken in a professional world dominated men. Sound familiar? Shirley is a free spirit who grew up playing baseball with the boys, and it seems labels and boundaries have never been her thing. This might be a little of life imitating art.
Q: What do you want people to remember you for?
I don’t know, but I just figured out what I want my obituary to say is, “You think I’m dead, but I’m not.” What do you do about legacy? You leave it alone; you try to be the best. Right now you’re hoping to get financing and you get slipped great scripts, in terms of working. In terms of my life, I just (want) to share whatever I’ve learned, which is (to) know yourself, look for yourself, know what to look for, share it, be honest, be authentic, and even if it hurts your feelings [laughs].
Q: In the film, your character has a history of being a risk taker, what would you say is the biggest risk(s) you have taken in your life?
I would say that… The biggest risk I always take is going in front of a live audience. There’s nothing more risqué to do. You really have to leave yourself open to your own authenticity and you find that out pretty quick. In terms of a life or death risk, don’t have an answer, and I can’t think of it. I went to Broadway when I was 16 and (I) didn’t consider it a risk. I thought it was probably what I should do. I think (that) I think like a dancer. Nothing is a risk; it’s more that it’s what I think I should do. Therefore I don’t define it as a risk.
I still don’t consider anything that I do a risk. Jumping out of an airplane, I wouldn’t do so therefore I’m not going to risk it.
Q: Watching this movie got me thinking how we as a society treat the older generation. What is your perspective, if you think Hollywood is ageist.
I do think that aging people are underserved in this culture big time. I want to stay healthy and serve that community and be a voice. Yes I want to be queen of AARP and say what they feel and it’s awful that they seem to be made invisible. Maybe that’s one reason why I did this great movie that Stuart (Ross Fink, writer) brought to me. I didn’t want an older person to be invisible in any longer. That’s what I want to do with it.
Q: At the Academy Awards, what did you think about Asghar Farhadi’s (winner of Best Foreign language Film of the Year) comments about the Trump travel restrictions?
Well, he spoke for himself, so let that stand like it is. I think it was important and necessary. By the way, the two people who were up there with her… Was it one person? Two people all together. She was the first Iranian woman in space and he is also part of the space center. If I had a moment and the courage I would’ve asked them, “Excuse me, can you introduce me to an extra-terrestrial?” I was waiting for that moment then I thought, “No, it’s too important,” [laughs].
Q: The music in the movie is amazing. What’s on your playlist?
Me, I’ve never heard of The Kinks, just so you know. You know, what really moves me is the Pas de Deux in “The Nutcracker Suite.” I love classical music, and I love the times and Dean (Martin, American actor) and Frank (Sinatra, singer), with the lyrics and wonderful rhythms and how they blend the music into the heart. I’m old fashioned.
Q: Some women of a certain age have to be labeled in a certain way. Why do you think there’s this tendency?
I don’t think the people in this culture know what to do with women. The women know what to do with women, but therefore I think they feel more secure with a label, and then they can ascertain whether the woman fits it or not. Labeling is not fair, and women have not been treated or dealt with fairly; therefore the labeling.
The Last Word is currently playing in theaters nationwide. For theatre and ticket information, visit the films official Facebook page at, https://www.facebook.com/The-Last-Word-2017-New-Full-Movie-358711287832099/
Interview by Izumi Hasegawa – @HNW_Izumi
Edited by: Jody Taylor – @RealJodyTaylor
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