Most fascinating interviews of 2014, part 3
LOS ANGELES—Sex, alcohol and more. From Courtney Love proclaiming that sex makes her happy, to Susan Sarandon stressing that “there’s no such thing as too much sex,” our 2014 interviews were made lively by candid statements from these colorful women. Other memorable interviewees include Cate Blanchett, Tatiana Maslany, Anjelica Huston, Robert Pattinson, Bill Murray, Clint Eastwood, Jose Feliciano and Fil-Ams Robert Lopez, Jose Antonio Vargas and Matthew Libatique.
“What are you drinking?” Bill Murray asked as he strode into a meeting room at the Fairmont Royal Oak Hotel in Toronto. It was Saturday afternoon, the peak of the Toronto International Film Festival.
“Let’s have a drink first, OK?” said the actor whose film, “St. Vincent,” made many journalists—both men and women—cry in a screening just two hours earlier. We’ll not spoil it for you, so we’ll just say there’s a scene that we challenge you not to be moved by.
We talked about Bill’s alcohol of choice. “I don’t have a favorite drink,” said the man considered by many as the coolest in the universe. “That is probably why I’m not an alcoholic,” Bill added. “I like alcohol, but I don’t have a favorite drink. If I had one, I would probably be a drunk…I like to have a different drink for a different mood.”
Sex makes her happy, she stressed. Also, “love, romance, having a crush on somebody is always nice; them having a crush back [on you] is nicer.”
Does she like dating much younger men? “I don’t go that way so much. I know women who do.” Like Cher? “That’s who I was talking about,” she quickly answered. “OK, so I had this Ralph Lauren underwear model and he is, like, 32 and gorgeous. But I couldn’t do it because I felt like his mom. I come with a lot of baggage, so it takes a lot of balls to be seen in public with me. However, I do date and I am pretty active. I just do it very discreetly.”
Speaking of sex…
“Not too much sex,” Susan Sarandon quipped after she said that too much sun, smoking and alcohol are a big no-no in her life. The actress avoids those last three to keep looking good. But, not sex, said the award-winning thespian. “There’s no such thing as too much sex, unless it’s with a lot of unprotected strangers,” she stressed.
“Sex is a good thing,” said the 1996 Oscar Best Actress winner, her huge, beautiful eyes sparkling. “You’re lucky to get it, and it’s important. You get so vulnerable in some ways that I can understand why it’s difficult. But, you should keep having sex as long as you can, definitely.”
Asked how he deals with anxiety, Robert’s reply was humorous: “I would love to go into therapy but it makes me too anxious.”
He elaborated, turning just a bit serious: “I have talked to a lot of people about it. I like my anxiety in a funny way. I like my peaks and troughs. I used to get such crippling anxiety before auditions that, every time I did, I’d want to quit acting after. So it would be physically painful.”
Discussing his bouts with depression, Robert shifted back to a laughing mode as he cracked, “I have to wallow in it. Luckily, it never lasts that long. That’s the good thing about being manic.”
Jose Antonio Vargas
The Filipino-American behind the acclaimed documentary, “Documented,” was expected to get a “regular” job when he grew up and lead a quiet life as an undocumented immigrant. Instead, he became a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who shot to greater prominence with his docu and as an immigrant rights activist. To what does he attribute his success as a journalist?
“No one—no one—succeeds alone. I owe whatever I have become not only to the family I was born into (my grandparents, uncles and aunts, my mother’s sacrifice), but also to the family of mentors and friends that I was fortunate enough to find.”
On how he imagines the moment when he is reunited with his mom Emelie Salinas (whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years):
“I’ve imagined and fantasized about that moment for years. I’d rather it was just ours to share, she and I, no cameras, no witnesses. I fly to Manila, she’s waiting for me, we drive to Zambales—a long drive, during which she and I talk nonstop. Then we stop at one of those beaches that I loved while growing up in Iba.”
Tatiana explained how she mentally prepares for a scene in “Orphan Black” where she plays many characters. “It’s a weird kind of split. In my head, I go, ‘OK, this person would go here…and this person would respond like this and maybe move here or maybe not move.’ I have to split in two or three to block a scene. Then we shoot one character, then pass through the scene, try to get it right on the nose so we can move on. Then I go for an hour and a half in hair and makeup, let go of the old character and bring up a new one.”
The break to physically get ready to play another clone is a welcome one, according to the actress.
“Thankfully, I have that hour and a half when I can physically wash the face off, work with this hair and makeup team that is so integral to the process. They help create the character with me. A lot of work happens in there. It’s just trust.”
The Oscar-nominated (“Black Swan”) Fil-Am cinematographer on the contrast in working from Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” to “Pele,” Jeff and Michael Zimbalist’s biopic on the Brazilian football legend:
“I’ve always gone from one project to another that are very different. You just change your mindset. This was a big jump but every film has logistical challenges and [‘Noah’] had its own. ‘Pele’ was no picnic either. Every film is hard. But it was a jump in the sense that it was the first time I had worked with these directors (the Zimbalists).”
He continued: “I’ve worked three times each with Jon Favreau, Joel Schumacher and Spike Lee. When I jump into a film with them, a large part of the preproduction process gets eliminated because I know them. I understand their language and how they go about making films. So the biggest [challenge], really, is working with somebody new.”
Looking back, the woman whose relationship with Jack Nicholson ended when she learned that actress Rebecca Broussard was pregnant with his baby, said, “I am not someone who regrets things a lot. Sometimes you get into relationships that don’t work and you think, why did I stay for so long? I was an idiot. Maybe it’s because you have something to learn from that. I try to think more about the things that I am happy about—or, things that I am not happy with, but can change. Life is not particularly easy.”
On Hollywood’s fixation with youth, she remarked, “There is this constant thing of youth is beauty. Photographs are hard after a certain point because you don’t look 20 anymore. You have to deal with the aging process. All I can say is that Maggie Smith is one of the most interesting actors on screen today. She said a funny thing to me a few years ago when she was here. I said, ‘Maggie, you should come back more often to Los Angeles. We love you so much here.’ Maggie said (imitates Maggie’s voice), ‘No, darling, they don’t like old people in Los Angeles.’ Well, I like old people and I like her.”
The actress claimed that she did not see herself as beautiful in her growing-up years. “I was never that girl,” she stressed, adding that she never thought of herself the way she held up Faye Dunaway for her beauty.
Her decision to become an actress was forged in theater. “The funny thing is, when you see people on stage, you always feel like they are taller and more charismatic and beautiful than they are.” When she pronounced words like “taller” with natural panache as “tallah,” with a graceful forward stretch of her arms for emphasis, Cate herself was the embodiment of these “beautiful” actors she was rhapsodizing about.
But she clarified, “I have a very elastic sense of what’s beautiful. It’s not only purely about the surface
—that fades very quickly. But yes, when I went to drama school, that’s when I thought perhaps I would give it a go. I knew a lot of really talented actresses in the theater, and a few in film, who didn’t work a lot. I thought, you need to be very strong to deal with that level of rejection. I didn’t know if I had the courage.”
Clint, who was married twice and was involved with several women: “I haven’t exactly been successful at it, but I made a couple of attempts. I’ve had moments of success interrupted by moments of satyr. Shelley Berman (comedian) used to say that.
“I admire people who can accomplish and do it, but it’s very difficult in today’s society, because there are so many things pulling at people. People gain different interests as time goes by, so they decide that they want to try something else.”
He added, “You have to keep trying. You don’t want to give up and be so cynical that, you say, ‘Never!’ But, maybe, at my stage in life, there’s a silver act. Never say never.”
Before Robert won an Oscar early this year, we asked about his thoughts on the possibility that he would be the first Fil-Am to win that golden trophy.
“I was not aware of that! Wow. I hope, win or lose, that Filipino artists everywhere take my example as proof that you don’t have to look a certain way for your dreams to come true. It just takes hard work, perseverance and some luck…Of course, anything could happen at the awards and so my hopes are not high. And even if it does happen, it will not go to my head—every award I’ve won has been for work I’ve done with incredibly gifted collaborators. You won’t catch me saying, ‘How awesome am I?’ ”
And when he won with his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez…
“Pinoy pride!” Robert exclaimed to us backstage at the Dolby Theatre when we asked for his thoughts on his historic Academy Awards win. “I’m so excited. I’m just sending love to the Philippines. I know they’ve had a tough year…”
“Cagayan de Oro.” Jose Feliciano pronounced the name of the Mindanao city perfectly, still remembering where he performed in the 1970s. We were looking back at some of the memorable concerts the legendary singer-guitarist-composer had given around the world.
“My memories of the Philippines are wonderful,” said the multi-Grammy winning Jose. He has a very good memory for people and places. “I love the Filipino people. I felt very sad when the typhoon hit the Philippines. I was supposed to do a bunch of concerts there but they got canceled. I love the Philippines. I came at a time when Imelda Marcos and her husband were in power. I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the things they did but I was just a guest. So I behaved myself.”
The performer, who was not deterred from pursuing a musical career despite being born blind, reminisced, “I played in Mindanao, in Cagayan de Oro. I played, of course, in Manila, which I liked. I enjoyed myself. I liked the food. If you want to know about the people in each place you go, eat the food. Don’t go to the Philippines and have McDonald’s. So when I go to a country, I eat their food and it tells me a lot about the people.”
At the end of this interview at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Jose broke into four songs, including “Feliz Navidad.” Suddenly, it felt like Christmas in May. Moments like this made 2014 memorable.
—Photos by Ruben V. Nepales
E-mail the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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