Kathy Bates is an American actress and director, famous for her roles in movies such as Misery, Fried Green Tomatoes, Dolores Claiborne, Titanic, About Schmidt and many others. Recently, she tried her hand at television work playing the title character from Harry's Law.
What's her type? These two interviews seem to indicate IxFJ for me, but I'm unsure...
What do you look for in roles these days?
I look for a role that hopefully I feel empathy with and that I can understand and love, but also that has that challenge for me to play - a different kind of role, a different type of character, a different time period. But in general, if I get the same kind of visceral reaction with a script like you do when you see a finished movie, that kind of thing of knowing what its possibilities are and you get excited and you think, “Yeah, I need to do this. I want to do that.” It's a very kind of primitive visceral response that's hard to be more specific about.How did you keep Roberta from being a one-dimensional character?
I wanted to make it very real. I was always very suspicious of Alexander and I kept saying, “But you like Roberta, right?” Because I wasn't sure. I always have to sort of fall in love with my characters and I wanted to treat her right. When I work on these characters, I just try to make them very real and grounded in the world. It's just the regular work that I do on a character with the director, trying to find out who this woman is and what's her backstory. Howard and I met with Alexander as a couple and we talked about different things that might have been true when we were together and what she does and how does she live, what kind of money does she have. Her social strata - her financial strata - seemed really important to me because when I first saw the house it kind of [took my breath away]. That wasn't what I had in mind. But all of those things helped me understand where she might be coming from.
I also worked on a walk for her. I really wanted her to walk with her pelvis thrust out to the world like she was ready. That was important to me, especially with Warren arriving and the whole celebration of a wedding being very fertile and all that. I think Roberta was getting off on that. She's so proud of her son and having him around always gives her another kind of buzz. You just sort of begin to pick up on all of those little things to try and specify who she is.MO You’re not always doing what you’re told.
KB No, I am. I am. I feel that I have made a career at doing what I’ve been told. That my main thrust for years and years and years when I went back to work in the theater, after trying Hollywood for half a year, was always, “What do you want me to do here? Tell me what you want.” So I developed the muscles to get me the range to do all kinds of things. I have a tremendous range, but the passion, my relationship to the work, has suffered. It’s not gone, but, it’s faded, so when people sit down and say, “What do you want to do next?” I don’t have any idea. And you could say, “Oh, well, that’s because you’re tired and have so much on your plate.” And partly that’s true, but I’m looking around under the covers there for my passion somewhere, it’s sort of slipping off the edge of the world. That’s why, when I work with people like Fugard, that passion flower blooms in the desert for me.KB As an actor I’m always asking, “Why am I doing this now? Are you sure you want this to happen?”
I don’t know, maybe I want it both ways, Michael. I do want to be a child because I want it to be in an environment that I can play in, safely. But I also want to have some control over how the game’s going to go.Also, here's a short impromptu interview with her:KB I did a film called Straight Time, years ago with Gary Busey and his son, Jake. And Jake, who was five years old at the time said, “I guess acting is pretending but making believe like you’re not pretending.” That’s all it is. It’s making believe. It gets me to a whole other issue, I have spent 90 percent of this year pretending to be somebody else. And in the last couple of months, doing the publicity for the film, I’ve lost myself. It’s like I need to call myself up and say, “Hi, how are you doing? What’s going on?” People wonder if you had amnesia and you forgot who you were, who you would be. Is that weird?