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Q) All right, well first I know obviously you didnít tackle this piece in the episode.
A) Well, I certainly was involved in the motivation of it.
Q) How did you get the role?
A) You know, in my world you never know how the hell you got a role. This one came to me as an offer which makes you feel good because youíre not auditioning and after 55 years of doing this, Iím still auditioning mostly but I didnít have to for Diva and Iím telling you, I had a ball. It was like a vacation. First of all, where they shoot is glorious but I knew that I admired Brooke Elliott - but my god, the first day---it was all I could do to concentrate on my part because she was so fascinating and she had to memorize I donít know must have been 15 pages of monologue. Anyway, sheís a brilliant - I expect to see - a lot of production done by her not necessarily of acting but producing.
Q) I hope your campaign for being Memaw is going well.
A) Oh my god, I would die to be Memaw - I would just die and I happen to mention it on Twitter and people picked it up and theyíre rolling with it but I donít know that the folks who do the hiring are interested.
Q) Well, this is a great role that youíre no pun intended tackling in this episode of Drop Dead Diva.
A) It was a hard role because what - I was discovering things - about the role as we went along which makes it far more interesting than to just say okay, this is what it is and thatís that and letís just say the jokes and get out of here. It was a wonderful part. There was not a person on that set who was not gracious and kind and great senses of humor led of course by Brooke.
Q) Have you ever had an experience in real life with someone who you saw shoplifting or someone that you watched be nabbed for a crime?
A) Bottom line, Iím a chicken. I want to, I wanted to speak up and say oh thatís personís doing something wrong but the part of me that says youíre 65 years old now. Shut up and get out of the way seems to come to the fore more often. There is a serious element of this that I do do and that is anything to do with a child. If I see a little maybe 18-month-old child getting kind of rickety on their legs standing in an aisle and thereís no parent around, I just have fits. I would go over and engage the child and try to remind the parent that, you know, whatever theyíre looking for isnít nearly as precious as what they got.
Q) Well, itís great to see that youíre on Twitter. How is it? How are you enjoying it and how is it important to you to promote roles like your Drop Dead Diva and your upcoming film project?
A) Well, itís again itís so new to me, Iím astonished at the speed with which information is exchanged. I mean, just my husband up until the last role I guess a few days, he has been doing texting. Iím good at texting. I even do capital letters now.
Q) What do you think it is about the show Drop Dead Diva that fascinates so many viewers?
A) Brooke Elliott. She is a force. She invites you into the most private part of her psyche and you feel safe there. I mean, she is so extraordinary and, you know, there are so many others on that show that are just wonderful and fun. April just kills me but for me the anchor is Brooke.
Q) William Schallert was reduced to tears in talking about seeing you perform on the stage in the Miracle Worker and recalling that memory. What are your memories of working with him on the Patty Duke show?
A) Well, first of all that heís the consummate professional and then he does a 180 and he acts like a baboon, the troops laughing and forging on but I have been blessed with him in my life. He has been there for me at every turn, good, bad or indifferent and a matter of fact, his computer was hacked recently. And I mean to call him and suddenly I get this e-mail that his computer was hacked and well, now this is an excuse to call him. Of course heís annoyed but heís remarkable.
Q) What do you consider your proudest career achievement?
A) Career, hmm. Well, one would expect I guess for me to say the Miracle Worker. Iíve had so many opportunities to ply my craft as it were. I mean, I have roles that I get that nobody even knew about. Thereís one called Birdbath that was done on public television and Leonard Malfee wrote it. Honest to God, the whole time I was rehearsing it, I didnít know what in Godís name it was about.
Q) Can you talk about what appealed to you most in the beginning? When you first read this part, this quirky character like Rita, what drew you to her and how much fun was it?
A) I tell you, I had not had that kind of fun on a set in I donít know, maybe 40 years. I mean, the people were so just gracious and kind first of all and Brooke, on my lord, the first day that we worked she had about six single-spaced pages to say and I was the defendant and I was sitting there on my hands doing nothing while this woman is struggling to get through six pages. Sheís brilliant. Sheís very loving and honest to God, I was just thrilled to have the opportunity. You know, at my age we donít work all that often and Iím a workaholic so Iíve been in withdrawal for quite some time now.
Q) In what ways did this lighthearted role give you something different to sink your teeth into as an actress rather than the more serious parts like the Miracle Worker?
A) Well again, you now know that laughter is crucial to me. To find that line between making you believe what Iím doing and the humor is a very delicate kind of job. I find comedy much harder than drama but Iíll do both. I needed a whole lot of energy because Brooke has so much energy.
Q) Do you have a favorite moment on set?
A) Yes. Oddly enough, it was the scene where the focus was not on me, it was on Brooke and she had pages and pages and pages of lawyer stuff to say and I felt sitting at the defense table I felt that I was being transported by this creature who could not only remember all the words in a row but deliver them with such energy and intelligence. You know, I fell in love with her off the bat.
Q) The career you have had is extensive, but is there a role that you would love to tackle one day that you have not yet portrayed?
A) Yes and itís funny you should ask. The timing is only perfect. All my life I have wanted to play Mary Lincoln. I have missed every production that was done because somebody else did it. I am now a year away or a year in the process of getting ready to play Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. First weíll play it in the museum in Illinois and then - are you ready for this - at the Ford Theater.
Q) What out of everything youíve done, whatís been your favorite?
A) Oh, thatís interesting to visit. It seems such an obvious answer but it isnít. I did two series with Richard Crenna - the late Richard Crenna, I hate to say that - and I could have stayed in that place in that mode with him for the next 500 years. His work ethic, his humor and his grace. Heís gone now seven years I think and I still miss him.
Q) Well, is there anyone that youíd like to work with that you havenít yet?
A) Everyone. I would like to - truthfully - I would feel that Iíd died and went to heaven if I could get the part of Memaw on the Big Bang Theory. Iíve started joking about it on Twitter and now itís become a rallying cry. Just to be in the same room and watch them do what they do would be a thrill.
Q) Your version of "Soft Kitty" was great.
A) My granddaughter made me do that. My 11-year-old granddaughter called me up and said Nanna, go now, use the whatever camera youíve got and do soft kitty. Now, the me of yesteryear would have said Iím not going to do that. Thatís ridiculous. Thatís so bold. I tell you within 10 minutes it was done.
Q) Do you have any advice for people trying to get into acting?
A) Oh, my God. Definitely have a day or night job. We have to be realistic. Itís very hard to be realistic when your passion is so great and you know in your heart that you can do this play or whatever. There must be some reality that says this is one of the toughest industries you can imagine and I will keep working at it but I canít put my entire self worth in it.
Q) How much are you like Rita from Drop Dead Diva?
A) I think thereís quite a bit. I was going to say not much at all but I just realized that yes, thereís a lot of me in Rita. I donít know that I would be as bold as Rita under the same circumstances. I had to go way inside and find that kind of brass.
Q) When I saw you working with Valerie Harper - I mean, to have two TV legends working together like that...
A) It was such fun. You know, we were never together. She was on the bench and I was at the events table but at the coffee table, we had a ball but I really felt the mile marker that we were at least in the same space doing what we do. She was so funny.
Q) What was the most challenging part for you to play in this Drop Dead Diva role?
A) It was difficult for me to make how much of a decision to make to be like the dead sister and to show you just a little bit of the Rita that exists but for me it was complicated partially because I played the twins so many years ago. I wanted this to be a little more realistic I guess. The twins, they were very good at what they did but each one was one note if you think about it. I had to take stuff away from one in order to have the order and this time I didnít. This time I got to walk both sides of the street.
Q) Do you still get a kick out of people who come up to you with their children and say this is my child we watched your films together?
A) I get a kick out of it and I get a bigger kick when they sing the song and they know all the words. People come up to me in airports and ladies rooms and theyíll break into song. The actors who played the family members really not only saved me but brought me great joy during the day when weíd work because unfortunately it was not so swell at home so their intelligence, their love, their caring is just emblazoned into my heart.
Q) So you have obviously done a lot of work before this but is there anything new that you learned about yourself after being on Drop Dead Diva?
A) Yes. I had been going through a time where I kind of was doubting that I really could do it anymore. Part of that is because we older ladies donít get cast as often so what I learned was something I already knew but had allowed to get kind of hazy and that is if I put one foot in front of the other and do my job, I can be proud of the work I do. But thereís never enough work, you know, weíre terrible all us old ladies, weíd love to be working.
Q) Youíve done so many different roles though. Which do you enjoy doing more, TV, movies, even theater?
A) I have to tell you theater. I find joy in some TV or movies and all that but the bottom line is theater is where I want to be most of the time.
Q) You spoke earlier about that you learned not to put your self worth into the industry. Can you speak more on what led you to this?
A) Oh, I didnít say I learned that. I was saying that was my advice. Oh, gee, I learned that because if I donít get a part, I get excuse me but pissed.
Q) Aside from Drop Dead Diva and the Big Bang Theory, what other TV shows do you currently enjoy?
A) Oh, Smash. I love Smash. Mostly Iím a news watcher and a public TV watcher but I like all that skullduggery theyíre doing at Smash.
Q) Can you envision yourself at Smash? Is that something youíd like?
A) Uh huh, big time. I mean, you must get the gist. I just like to work. I donít care where, I donít care why. I just want to work.
Q) What would you like to say to your fans and supporters?
A) Send heat. I live in North Idaho and itís all of 60 degrees today. Thatís after two weeks of rain. Now whoever says they have a house for me available where itís warm, weíre in.