Jessica Lange, Living on the Edge: “What would it take to swing off that high rope?”

Jessica Lange has begun to exploit “the wild” as a performer. This may sound strange for someone who has won the Triple Crown of acting—with two Oscars (Tootsie, Blue sky), three Emmy Awards (Gray Gardentwo seasons of American horror story) and Tony (as Mary Tyrone in The journey of long day into night) to his name—and built his reputation on emotional courage. But today, says Lange in this week’s magazine Little golden boys (read or listen below), she became even less inhibited. A lot of her characters, she says, “are navigating sobriety.” “For me, that’s always the most fun thing to play.”

Lange is having a great double header in the middle of a Broadway run mother playing, recently ended (and for which she received another Tony nomination) and her HBO series Lillian Hall, thanks to which she returned to the Emmy race. In both, she plays decades-old mothers facing mistakes and regrets. But whereas in the former we followed her fascinating trail of destruction through the decades, in the former, Lillian Hall the work is more internal – and destructive. Lillian is a wonderful stage actress battling dementia, and the film stars Kathy Bates And Lily Rabe, pursuing her determination to complete the production Cherry garden while facing the reality of her illness and the choices she’s made in life to get to this moment.

It was another success for an actor who has been famous for 40 years. In our interview, Lange explains why this moment still feels different.

Vanity Fair: What are you connected to in the Lillian Hall?

Jessica Lange: First of all, I think the opportunity to make a film about the world of theater is really exciting. You look at classics like Cassavetes Opening night or All about New Year’s Eve—just the idea of ​​being able to go into the world of theater and actually film it authentically, I thought it was a great opportunity. As a character, she has many flaws, but most characters do. She is also very brave and I think she has a lot of courage. She makes huge mistakes but is also very persistent and has a spirit of attachment to the stage.

You talked about the concept of likeability and you called it a trap that actors often fall into. How have you navigated it in your career?

Usually what I say yes is to the characters To be hardship—people living on the edge. If you look at Frances Farmer or Blanche DuBois or even Mary Tyrone, or the character Carly in Blue sky—all of these characters have a dark side and a light side. Idea: What would happen if you wobbled off that high rope and fell into the abyss? It seems to me that those types of characters like to explore depths that you wouldn’t normally want to fall into.

Probably my favorite character I’ve ever played, and the character I could keep playing forever if I didn’t keep aging, would be Mary Tyrone. It is brilliantly conceived. I’ve done it three different times now—I’ve done it on stage in London, I’ve done it on stage in New York, and I’ve also filmed it—and you’ve never had I feel like I’ve reached the bottom of a well. There is always more to discover. And for me as an actor, that’s what I’m looking for.

With the character I’m playing on stage now [in Mother Play], that is also the case. It’s a difficult character. She’s not adorable, but there are times when she’s adorable. There are moments when the mistakes, the decisions she makes are almost unimaginable, and as a mother, hard to understand. With Lillian Hall, it’s not that serious, but she has made mistakes as a mother – whether it’s neglect or putting other things before her children. As the years have passed, how do you deal with that? Really, what kind of remorse, what kind of remorse, what kind of grief, do you carry with you from those experiences?

With characters like this, I’m curious if it will be difficult for them to escape. Those are very emotional roles, the roles you’re describing.

I thought from the beginning, yes. Frances was actually the first big role I had. That’s hard to shake. Some of them stay with you. They haunt you after you leave them. I felt the same way about Blanche DuBois after playing her on stage a few times. They are still there. You know what they are, they are floating. You feel them. And of course, it’s a bit of an obsession over time. It gets easier because you get used to like, “Okay, that’s it. I’m done, I’m leaving.” But there are some that have been around longer than others.


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