21 July 2024

JULY 2014

[continued from Part 1]

TT: Let's jump now to a seminal David Cronenberg film: The Brood (1979).

SE: Yes.

TT: Such an iconic figure in terms of the genre. Do you recall how you came into contact with Cronenberg?

SE: Iím not sure I recall how I met David. Luckily at that time, I was in a position to just be offered a script. And also as you know, the Canadians were making a lot of tax shelter films at that time.

Being British, I believe I fit into some of the specific tax shelter requirements for employing a certain number of non-Canadian professionals. Oliver Reed and I could have been the token Brits in the film.

So as a result, I made a lot of films in Canada. In fact, I think Iíve worked in every province, and done quite a few television shows there.

As we were building up for this interview, I did actually look up The Brood in my journal, and I was totally shocked to discoverÖthat it was only four days of shooting for me.

TT: Really?

SE: Yes. And again, it was before Christmas! The Brood was something like December 16-20. It was a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

I have the scene numbers written in my journal. Then it says, "Air Canada Ė return to L.A."

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TT: Even for this type of movie, that's fast.

SE: Yes. I was shocked when I read that in my journal. Do you really mean to tell me I did all those scenes for The Brood in only four days? Seems hard to believe.

TT: That's rather amazing.

SE: But I have to tell you, I adore David. What a wonderful, wonderful man. And a brilliant talent.

On The Brood, David was sort of shooting ŗ la franÁaise. That is to say, a very small crew and a very French way of filming. With very few people in the crewÖand I also noted it was about 28 degrees there in Toronto. Which is not unusual, of course, for Toronto in December.

TT: The set was very intimate...

SE: Exactly. And it was storyboarded so I'm sure David had it all completely organized.

But The Brood really was a beautiful working experience because of the small, intimate connection with every single member of the crew and your fellow actors. It was like a theatre piece, really. Like being on stage.

TT: Would you include Oliver in that feeling of a stage play?

SE: Oh, yes, definitely.

TT: Reed had a reputation for being a mercurial and combustible actor. Did you experience any difficulties with him?

SE: Absolutely none. First of all, Oliver and I were practically raised together. When we were evacuated to the country [during the war], Oliverís parents, who were very well-known filmmakers/producers, lived down the hill from where we lived.

If you've ever read Oliverís first book, All About Me, he wrote that his first girlfriend was me. I made him a cake out of what we called plasticine in those days, which you call Play-Doh. I must have been all of three.

But yes, Ollie was combustible. Of course he was. I mean, after all, he was a drunk!

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He had this minder, this bodyguard, who'd follow him around, and whoíd punch people out. Ollie never did any of that himself. He didnít want his face to get bashed in. So he had this huge minder with him that Ollie would just sort of sic on people, like a dog.

TT: Weíve always wanted one of those...

SE: Honestly, he and I got on wonderfully. He was extremely giving. In terms of acting together, we just flitted along perfectly.

TT: What did you think of the extremely odd subject matter of The Brood?

SE: I was really fascinated by how David had come upon this idea of the hives growing on me, these children of anger growing on the outside of my stomach. This little army I was bearing. I thoughtÖ"Goodness, what a mind this is...to conceive such a fantastical thing."

And it wasn't only David's concept that was multi-layered, multi-dimensional. It was also reflected in the writing itself. As an actor, when you have a sort of Shakespearean way to the writing that is so rich and robust, you revel in it. And really, the part of Nora Carveth was exactly that.

TT: Did you have any interaction on-set with the children who played your killing brood?

SE: You know, I didn't actually. Thankfully, as they were very frightening in costume!

TT: Cronenberg has joked in the past that The Brood was his dysfunctional version of Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), a sort of twisted homage to his recent divorce from ex-wife Margaret Hindson at that time.

SE: Yes, that's true.

TT: But more to the point, he's said at that time you bore a striking resemblance to Margaret, which made the whole thing that much more bizarre.

SE: Really? Really, David?? I had no idea. I shall have to discuss that with him when I see him next.

TT: What did they use on your stomach?

SE: Those are actually condoms. We had a lot of laughing amongst all the monstrosity of it.

TT: Condoms?

SE: Yes, bits of condoms! (Laughs.)Öthey would cut them off, different lengths, and sizes, and stick a bit of glue on them and try and get them to stick on my belly.

TT: Well that must have diluted some of the gravitas of the situation for you.

SE: Well, of course, of course. And the goriness of it all was taken away because of watching the property people trying to stick those things on me.

Many years later, I was at an opening of another of Davidís brilliant films. A couple of people there asked us about the scene in The Brood with my birthing of the child with all the blood. And when I lick the child.

I said to David: ďNow, DavidÖisnít it right that I suggested I would do that because I would pretend that I was a cat?Ē And he said, ďAbsolutely. That was Samís idea.Ē

We used to have rushes in those days. Dailies, which everyone could go to. I never went to rushes, but the male crew Ė well, when they saw that scene, apparently two or three of them just threw up. It was so disgusting!

Itís sugar water, colored like blood. I just thought that when cats have their kittens or dogs have puppies (and I think at that time I had about 8 dogs), they lick them as soon as theyíre born. Lick, lick, lick, lick, lickÖ

None of the sort of horror of it got to me. I never had a nightmare or anything like that. Davidís brilliance in his writing just superceded everything. I mean, we might as well have been doing Macbeth.

TT: Thatís right. We love the fact that you used the words rich and robust. Because even though itís not Macbeth or a historical play or tragedy, it has the same weight in that thereís a lot going on with it.

SE: Indeed.

TT: Any other thoughts on The Brood?

SE: Well, I remember it was almost Christmas Eve and right after The Brood, I flew home when the filming was done -- and went straight into doing a Love Boat episode where I married the Captain.

TT: Talk about your contrasting performances. We saw that one, actually! And the Fantasy Island, which was fun.

SE: Oh, yes! I married all of those men. It was wonderful. But I had to die at the end of the episodesÖotherwise, the shows would have to come off.

TT: You appeared on Starsky and Hutch during the same period.

SE: Yes, that was wonderful. Just going backwards and forwards to Hawaii all the time. It was gorgeous.

TT: Joan Collins was in that episode.

SE: And Hugh Hefnerís Playboy bunnies as well. A nicer group of girls you couldnít meet. Smart, sweet, kind, bright and amazing. Theyíre good girls. Those ones were, anyway.

TT: We wish the storyline had given you and Joan more screen time together.

SE: Oh, well, Joan and I have been friends for years. In fact, Joan and I were in hospital at the same time. Joan had her son Sacha Newley, who is a brilliant painter and portraitist, and I had Nicolas.

TT: Now, although it pangs us to ask you about this next one, we can't stop ourselves. Let's talk about the horror film Demonoid from 1981 (aka Macabra).

SE: Oh, God...the one about the possessed hand?

TT: Yes, what can you tell us about this one?

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SE: Well, it was with Stuart Whitman. Another sweet, sweet man. My goodness, what a nice man. I seem to recall we couldn't use the word "Hand" in the title of the film. Apparently, it was already being used.

TT: The Oliver Stone horror film The Hand (1981) with Michael Caine?

SE: Could be. I just remember they wouldn't let us use the word. And yet our whole film was about the creepy hand! A much better title than Demonoid...that title never made any sense at all.

It was nice to go on location down to Mexico and shoot that one. It was actually quite a lovely location.

The director, Alfredo ZacarŪas, was very well-known in his own country. And when we went down there to film, he was generous and shared his friends and associates with us.

I remember a strange story while filming Demonoid. Alfredo took us to this palatial mansion guarded all around.

Cocktails were being served in one part of the garden. Exotic birds of paradise were roaming about on the lawns. Liveried help came and served margueritas...it was just all too, too much.

The host was the owner of a famous Mexican brandy, which of course is big business there in Mexico City.

But I remember we'd have these long, LONG, four hour lunches. So typical of latin life. We'd start in the morning, then off to another palatial place for lunch...never hurried the lunches...and then we'd come back and do a little bit of work. And I'd think, "How on earth are we ever going to finish making this film?" MaŮana, maŮana...

TT: Let's move on to Curtains.

SE: Yes.

TT: Do you recall how it came your way or was it another instance of a script just being offered to you?

SE: Curtains...Well, I feel I should put that one in perspective for you: at that time, my children were 13 and 15.

From 1963, when I came to America, I was already under contract to Paramount. And then when I did The Collector, they put me under contract to Columbia. Then I went back to England in í64 to shoot The Collector. And I never had any travel credentials. I was on a Visa.

So for every five months for eleven years, I had to leave this country.

TT: Interesting.

SE: Yes. I had to uproot my children. I always had the children with me, travelling to every location. But around 1969-70, I realized I would have to stay and put them in school. So I started working in America. I didn't get a green card until I worked with Yul Brynner in the television series Anna and the King in 1973.

By around 1980, when we started filming Curtains, I had decided to stop working. I should be at home. I mean, teenagersí delight and all that. I had to be at home, really. I was just a single mother.

And what happened was, I would take a film like Curtains when my ex-husband took them for a couple of weeks -- either in the summer, or for Christmas. Thatís how I guided my life at that time. Grab a film in the holidays when theyíre with my ex-husband.

TT: Understandable.

SE: I remember Curtains had a large cast for a film of that type. And it was a hectic shoot. Very difficult at points because you had to wait around for hours and hours for the crew to do all of the camera set-ups. You would spend a lot of time just waiting for the camera to be on you. That could be trying at times.

On Curtains, neither the location, its storyline (or I should say, lack of one), nor the group of actors I was working with...none of that overcame my desire -- my need -- to get home.

To be frank, I had very little interest in any of the work I was doing around that time, sadly to say. And Curtains fell into that category. What was paramount to me then was to be able to educate my children in good solid schools and to keep mine -- and their -- heads above water as upcoming teenagers.

TT: Are you aware Curtains has bit of a cult following among fans?

SE: Vaguely. Can you tell me why people would have an interest in this one?

TT: Well, for the genre Ė and for a slasher, in particular Ė Curtains is a unique effort in that it has an adult cast, rather than teenagers. The premise of adult female actresses all vying for a coveted stage role give it a different feel. Itís more of a slasher by way of sleepy arthouse thriller.

SE: Ah. Well, I donít think it was a very good film. In fact, I think the end result was an awful film. A bit of horror, dotted by some vaguely-drawn characters, really.

Honestly, my memories of shooting Curtains were in large part superceded by my strong wish to complete it and get back to my children. That was foremost on my mind.

TT: What else can you recall?

SE: My personal memories of Curtains invariably bring up an entirely different -- but enormous -- conversation for me. Namely what was going on in my own life at that time.

Specifically, the issue of women who are actors -- and also mothers. You wonder, are you guilty being away from your kids? Are you guilty because you've been told the womanís place is in the home? Are you guilty because you've put ego in front of family? Have you, really? Or is that guilt being projected upon you? On and on and on.

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That doesn't apply only to show business. It's universal. You see women gaining positions of power nowadays. I once saw on 60 Minutes all these businesswomen who had graduated from Harvard and Yale, etc. who had semi-broken the idea of having to compete with a man.

But then suddenly realizing at 44, ďOh, goodness, I donít like this anymore. Now I want to get married.Ē And then at that age, not being able to find a husband. So they adopt a child and now youíve got a family without a father.

The whole thing is a huge shift in the parameters of social and economic existence.

That's probably not at all the answer you may have expected when you asked me about Curtains! (Laughs).

TT: Actually, it's a rather fascinating answer.

SE: Apart from obviously meeting my friend Linda [Thorson] during shooting, I do want to say something else about Curtains. I read your interview with her.

She said while we were filming, I used my per diem and bought a white floor-length fur coat. I want to set the record straight about that: maybe she did, but I certainly didn't.

What I would say is that if anyone does have a fur coat today, give it to your vet. Because when doggies have serious operations, itís good for them to lie them on a real fur coat.

TT: Oh?

SE: Yes, because itís so soft.

I know that in certain places thereís probably nothing as warm as a fur coat. Probably Russia, Montreal...and Miami. So wear your fur coat if you want. But not anywhere around me.

But back to Curtains. That was basically when I stopped working. I knew that it was a huge risk I was taking [not Curtains per se, but the choice around that time to stop working]. And it proved to be the truth. You step out of that position and you donít get the calls anymore. And thatís really, in a way, what happened.

In a way, my mind didn't have any interest in a bad piece of literature i.e. Curtains. It was about getting some work. Take the money, go home, and make sure the children are safe. And that Nicolas hasnít stolen the car.

Nature gives you a lack of memory because that wasnít really what was foremost in oneís mind at that time.

TT: Do you regret making Curtains?

SE: No. I have no regrets. Never had a regret about anything. But I certainly have no regrets about the path I took. Mind you, my agent wanted to kill me at times.

TT: Some questions on a few other films.

What do you recall about making The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun (1970) shot in France and directed by Anatole Litvak?

SE: Yes, Tola. Known as "Tola." Mr. Litvak...very old school.. Precise. Exacting. Single minded. And a complete gentleman.

It was not an easy shoot. Because basically, I'm in the car most of the time, driving. The car was connected to the camera dolly, which was also on the truck. That's how we travelled all the way from Paris to Marseilles, via Avignon. With the entire camera crew sitting atop this truck, and two more cars with all the other crew, the grips, the this and that. Snaking our way down the French auto route.

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TT: We noticed those scenes appear to have a lot of real, public traffic.

SE: Oh yes, absolutely. We were on the road. We had some police officers at all times, but it was still difficult.

And I remember Tola used the Guide Michelin to pick out all the two to three star restaurants on the route we took driving through France. He loved food. We stopped at every single one of them, the entire route from Paris to Avignon. And at each restaurant, Tola would go into the back of the restaurant, into the kitchen, and help the cook prepare our meals. Then he'd come back out grinning with complete joy at his efforts...and our satisfied tummies.

TT: Litvak had done so much. He directed All This, and Heaven Too (1940) with Bette Davis and Charles Boyer, The Snake Pit (1948) with Olivia de Havilland, and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) with Barbara Stanwyck...

SE: That's right. And Litvak, like Wyler, was another icon I knew nothing about at the time, until I was able to see all his old films.

But you know, in retrospect, I see the connection between Wyler and Litvak. They are one and the same. They have this utter precision, and dedication. And seriousness about making a film. It's very comforting because you really feel they are the auteurs of the entire thing.

You wouldn't dare go up to someone like Litvak, and say, "Well, I have this idea what we could do here!" He'd simply look at you and say, "Excuse me? No. Get back in the car and do as I told you." He was in complete control and to the credit of the project, he was always right.

TT: Yes.

SE: And Claude Renoir was our Director of Photography. Claude was the grandson of Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He did lots of films such as Barbarella (1968), The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) with Kate Hepburn, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and on.

TT: Of course, here you were working with Ollie again.

SE: Yes, I think Ollie and I worked together probably three or four times.

When we started filming The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun in Paris, I had my children with me. I remember Ollie came into this magnificent apartment they had rented for me and there was a great big, expensive rug on the floor. Oliver put both the children on the floor and rolled them up in it and then took the rug at the other end and rolled them out.

TT: They must have loved that.

SE: Oh, yes. Total giggles, with "please, do that again!!" over and over.

TT: Let's talk about the romance-turned-crime heist thriller The Walking Stick (1970) co-starring David Hemmings.

We love this one. You and Hemmings and robbery are just a perfect combo. Thoughts?

SE: Eric Till directed that one. A lovely charming easygoing Canadian. In it were Emlyn Williams and Phyllis Calvert, who played my mother. Phyllis had been in Stanley Donan's Indiscreet (1958) with Cary Grant. Lovely, beautiful woman. And Francesca Annis, who has had such a good career.

Of course, David Hemmings. A Jack of All Trades. Actor. Painter. Singer. Musician. Magician. Writer. Horse rider. Race car driver. Director. Just so, so multi-talented. He and I were inimitable soulmates, right from the moment we met. I think you see that, feel that, in the film.

As a person, David never let a moment of life pass him by. He died too damn young, but he lived every minute to its absolute fullest.

Everything in The Walking Stick was filmed on location in the city of London. At the moment now, London doesn't resemble anything like it did in 1970. But we filmed many scenes way down in the dock area.

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As you know, the Thames is a tidal river. It goes in and out. And when it goes out, there are all these mud flaps.

David and I would go down there and look for antique clay pipes in amongst all these mud flaps. These clay pipes were thrown into the Thames in the 15th century when London burned to the ground. If you could find a full clay pipe, of course, you'd be very lucky. I found quite a few bowls of pipes, the bases, and then about six inches of the pipe. The pipes at full length, originally, would have been a foot and a half.

David and I would go there and dig amongst the mud. And David, ever the challenger, would go into every single pub and challenge anyone -- and everyone -- to a dart game.

It was a very, very happy shoot on The Walking Stick.

TT: Part of the power of this one is that it turns on a dime, so quickly, from a perfectly charming love story to a brutal crime heist.

SE: Yes. Exactly. I think it was a good story. I liked that story very much. Similar to The Collector, really. Of love enabling you to do things you wouldn't ordinarily do. Above and beyond all, love is the conqueror of absolutely everything, light and dark.

In The Collector, Miranda would have survived because of love. And in The Walking Stick, Deborah becomes a criminal because of love.

TT: Is there a role you've always had a desire to play that you havenít yet?

SE: No.

TT: Is there a role youíre most proud of?

SE: (Long pause.) I think...there are probably seconds within each film.

In terms of my stage work, Iíll say that if youíre in a play for six months, there will probably be one night when the circadian rhythms that we all inhabit justÖgel.

You come off stage with six to eight actors and you all just look at each other and thereís almost a silence. Because each of you was in the right place at the right moment in time and space. You were, all of you, in a cosmic space.

No explanation for it because each of us in our 24-hour period have this emotional and physical wheel thatís always turning, thatís always going. So you cannot expect people to come together and all be in one thought process.

TT: So itís a genuinely fluid process...

SE: Exactly. Youíre all saying the same words each night. But somebody, you know, didnít let the cat out at home. Somebody shouted at his wife before we started the play. Somebody made love that morning. Somebody did the grocery shopping. Somebody didnít. Blah, blah, blah.

So that ONE MOMENT in that six months, that one moment of PERFECTION, on any particular project, well, itís the same that happens in a film, really.

TT: Moving parts within moving parts.

SE: Precisely. Of course, the difference is a film is captured for posterity. It lasts.

The idea that [my actual work on] The Brood only took four days stunned me, I must say.

And within those four days on The Brood, there are probably five seconds captured on film where those rhythms were all in absolute perfect harmony. There were probably forty seconds in The Collector, for example. And so on and so on.

To answer your question: itís a collective thing. Itís nothing specific. Not a specific role, but rather aggregate moments here and there. I think our lives are alchemic.

TT: You mentioned you keep a diary or journal.

SE: Itís a date diary, actually. Not a diary in the usual sense of the word. I have a journal, but I never write about myself. I write about occurrences that happen in the world and how I feel, and thought processes and things.

So it was a date diary. In fact, it was my secretaryís handwriting I saw.

TT: An appointment book?

SE: Yes. They were all from the Museum of Modern Art. I had about fifteen of those before I segued into something else.

TT: Youíve attended conventions. Do you enjoy them?

SE: Well, what Iíll say is that theyíve brought to light how Iím seen.

People would come with posters of The Brood, posters of The Uncanny, posters of The Dead Are Alive. Posters of all these, as I say, scary-type films. Iíd never seen myself as in that genre at all!

In a way, The Collector is not a horror film. Itís a HORRIFIC film because itís a murder, really. But the slow pace of the film and the torture of that woman, it does almost put itself into that class. Itís notÖa musical.

TT: So it was a surprise to you when you attended conventions that you were seen in that light?

SE: I was very surprised. When it happened more than once, I had to think about it. "Goodness, this is not an arena that I had presumed I started out in. Why did I get cast in those parts? What did they see in me?"

TT: Do you enjoy conventions?

SE: I do, actually. I mean, Iím a speck at the bottom of the ladder as far as those conventions are concerned. People donít come dressed as Nola Carveth from The Brood. (Laughs.) Thank goodness.

TT: That might be really interesting if they did!

SE: True. But I find the fans are so polite and gracious and kind and complimentary. But donít compliment me, I always say. Compliment the whole thingÖthe director, the writer.

I find a huge generosity of spirit at conventions -- although Iím not counting the people who just want to take your signed photo around and sell it that night.

You can always tell when someone comes up to you and if they mention a film, they mention a PART of that film or why did she make that choice rather than, ďOh, I LOVED you in Doctor Dolittle! Can I have your autograph?Ē And they could care less. They just want something signed.

The real fans are the people that do care about the part youíve played and the writing. And the fact that they bring a poster or a new DVD thatís come out (which Iíve never seen, of course).

Often, someone surprises me by asking if I knew that The Collector has been reissued, or something to that effect, and I'll say, ďNo, I didnít.Ē Theyíll even offer me one, which is so dear! So thereís generosity on both sides and thatís very nice.

TT: It can be.

And it probably doesn't hurt that you're Captain Picard's sister-in-law.

SE: Yes, of course. But you know, I've found the Star Trek conventions, and Trekkies, to be different. I think those conventions originally covered all sorts of people, and included other subgenres as well, because youíd have actors who were just in musicals sitting a table away from you

I think they figured out that if they did a specific genre, the room would be full of same-thinking people. So those can be a bit more...insular.

TT: Earlier, you mentioned how real stars are from a bygone era. We personally canít keep track of the current crop of actors. They all seem somehow interchangable. Would you like to elaborate?

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SE: Well, Iíll just say that mainstream cinema is not the industry of writing and caring about the artistry. I never use the word ďartist.Ē An artist is someone who stands in front of an easel. An actor is NOT an artist, and it is not a craft. Itís called filmmaking and youíre an actor. You are part of the crew. Thatís all you are. Why try and make yourself any better than you are with all these fancy words?

The industry has made these actors who they are. Itís not their fault, really.

TT: What's ironic is that the idea of ďartistryĒ -- not to mention method acting -- wasnít necessarily in the minds of the studios when they were making the classics. That came later, in many ways.

SE: It did come later, youíre right. There was a different thrust. Again, we come full circle. If you didnít see that film at the Odeon on Saturday night, youíd never see it again. You just had one opportunity to see a film.

I will say, the thing about actors of today that I admit I have unalterable sympathy for are the press. And how the press treats them. The way their lives are not private in any way.

I've had a private life. Nobody knew what I was doing. Hopefully.

TT: We respect actors and actresses from the golden years of Hollywood. But there seems to be a distinct absence of respect for modern stars. The public delights in wanting to tear them down.

SE: Yes, because of the availability. Youíre stuck on a cheap magazine in the checkout stand at the supermarket. Youíre not entitled to have a say in anything when you put yourself in that position.

Although there are certain actors who have been very smart about their careers and moved out of Los Angeles and gone to live either on the Continent or upstate New York. And are brilliant enough to be cast in films but have a normal, humble, intelligent life.

TT: Well-grounded.

SE: Absolutely.

TT: Weíve seen some fabulous home video footage of you taken by Roddy McDowall in the mid Ď60s.

SE: Roddy was a dear, dear friend of mine. We were two people who shared private time together, off set. And yet, I had met Roddy, as you see in those videos, when I first came here in the early sixties. Take away everything we just talked about. No photographers hiding in a bush. Thank goodness for the video that Roddy took...otherwise people wouldnít have that footage at all of those actors at that time.

TT: Roddy was a fine actor. One of our favorites.

SE: He and I worked on John Ritterís last film, shot in Canada.

TT: Loss of Faith?

SE: Yes, that one.

Roddy actually made a whole bunch of videos personally for me that he had taken of us giving the children swimming lessons, with Albert Finney and Natalie Wood at the house and a whole bunch of English actors. I used to always entertain the Shakespeare company when they came here.

He sent me all those, which are private but thereís one that got onto YouTube Iíd never seen of me being pregnant sitting on the sand with everyone sort of staring at me. "Oh, poor dear in the sun, in Malibu, and being pregnant. Youíre so unattractive and weíre so attractive! We look lovely in our bikinis and youíre eight months pregnant. Poor little girl." (Laughs.)

TT: You were gorgeous. And it was a lovely little sundress, nevertheless.

SE: Youíre too kind.

TT: Tell us a little about what you've been up to these days. We know in recent years, you've done a lot of voice work.

SE: That's right, yes. I was the voice of Hera on Disney's animated feature Hercules. And then I reprised that role again for several years when they did a Hercules television series.

I also did the voice of Queen Guinevere for The Legend of Prince Valiant with my dear friend Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., which aired on the Family Channel.

Over the years, I've done a lot of voice work for various projects. Voice work can be quite fun.

TT: We hear you're an animal lover as well. Thoughts?

SE: Treat them as you would treat yourself. It's that simple.

Of course, it's totally personal for me, because we know of so many people these days who can be monstrously cruel to animals. But I feel that today's world has come such a long way with the acknowledgement of how important the animal life is to our own existence.

TT: You have dogs now?

SE: My two English bulldogs -- Tallulah and Socrates -- are in heaven right now. Along with my beautiful Dalmatian Dane, and all the dogs from my previous years: my Red Setter, my Chihuahua from Mexico, my rescue boys and girls over the years. I've always been surrounded by dogs. I've never been without dogs in my life.

Recently, in England at my sister's, there were eleven dogs. There were nine people and eleven dogs! There were Whippets, Lurchers, Rhodesian ridgebacks, and Jack Russells.

TT: How wonderful.

Last fall, Turner Classic Movies and Robert Osborne honored you with some great introductions and airings of The Collector, Walk, Don't Run, Doctor Dolittle, Return from the Ashes and Dr. Crippen.

SE: That's right. I was completely thrilled by that. And as I mentioned earlier, I was happy to see some of them since it had been years in some cases that I had watched them.

TT: You've done a lot of radio work as well.

SE: Yes. Iíve done about 50 radio plays, and love it. I get to do parts that I would never be offered otherwise nowadays. Brilliant, brilliant pieces of work: Shakespeare, Chekhov, Wilde, Shaw, Ibsen. Including first time playwrights, that our producer at the California Artists Radio Theatre, Peggy Webber, is always embracing.

I keep my hand in that way and Iím totally fulfilled.

TT: Tell us more about that.

SE: For example, this past February I did a wonderful project with Norman Lloyd. We performed a reading of George Bernard Shaw's comedy "A Village Wooing." That was just so enjoyable.

As you know, Norman is such an amazing man, about to celebrate his 100th birthday this November, with his memory and wit as sharp as ever. The stories he can tell! About Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s...about his singular journey through Broadway and Hollywood....just a marvelous man.

TT: You were also honored with a Life Achievement Award at the 48th Cinecon Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

SE: I was astonished by that, and humbled. They showed a remastered print of Walk, Don't Run at Graumans Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. So that was a real joy.

However, the real honor goes to Cinecon, who does terrific work with film preservation. It's such an important and vital task, especially in regards to the work they've done in restoring and preserving so many films from the silent era.

But most importantly to me these days, I have two magnificent children. I now have three equally magnificent grandchildren.

As I look back as an actor, I say, "Alright, wellÖI had a good run." But in the end, what was most important was having my children come home safe and sound every night, acquire excellent educations, and well, here we are now!

I recently had my 75th birthday and they were all here. So were 70 friends from every decade Iíve been in America. It was all about love. And all about truth and all about giving. Lots of laughs and humour.

TT: That's terrific.

Ms. Eggar, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Itís been so much fun for us -- and a true honor. We salute you.

SE: Youíre welcome. And please, call me Sam. All my friends call me Sam.

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