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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 23
SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Shirley MacLaine
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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Shirley MacLaine

Hollywood, spiritual travels, and 2012

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

An Evening with
Shirley MacLaine
June 13 at 7 PM
Benaroya Hall


From the moment Ms. Shirley MacLaine picked up the phone, she proved herself not only a true professional, but a genuine, down-to-earth soul, as well. That shouldn't be surprising. Despite her flash on Broadway, her feature film debut was for Alfred Hitchcock, which started off a long line of Hollywood films. Her views on traveling, politics, and spiritual beliefs have become synonymous with her name. In advance of her appearance in June, the Seattle Gay News got to interview the multitalented and vivacious Shirley MacLaine.

Eric Andrews-Katz: Which of the roles you have played are you most like?

Shirley MacLaine: I loved my role in Steel Magnolias because I was practicing for how irascible I could be in my old age. I loved that part. My favorite part is Aurora Greenway from Terms of Endearment. That's probably what I'm most like. I like playing myself.

Andrews-Katz: The Children's Hour was quite controversial. What lessons can be learned from it for today's society?

MacLaine: When the play was first produced, the entire place was raided. When we made the film, [director] William Wyler had already done These Three [the film's original title]. In the film, the woman and the man are in love with the same woman. Wyler got skittish and cut out scenes of my character showing real loving traits to the woman she was in love with. I fashioned my entire character in the film from that. I believe you should either do it exactly the way it's written, or don't do it! The headlines in the Los Angeles Times read: "The Lesbian Said, the Better."

Andrews-Katz: What difficulties did you face in the filming of Terms of Endearment?

MacLaine: Debra Winger - end of sentence.

Andrews-Katz: You played (and earned an Emmy nomination for) the title role of Coco Chanel. Do you find it easier or more difficult to portray a living person opposed to a fictional one?

MacLaine: I don't know. I like them both, to tell the truth. Sometimes a real one is easier because all of the emotional imprints are there. You can look at tapes of them and stuff.

Andrews-Katz: Being a political advocate for George McGovern and Dennis Kucinich, what are some of your major political concerns today?

MacLaine: I would have to say the environment, especially with the oil spills. I sit in front of the television and cry every time I see the oil spills and all the birds covered. I can't bear it. This is a huge, huge problem. We forget our covenant with nature.

Andrews-Katz: You once wrote that how a potential romantic interest of yours relates to the Gay men around him is one way you judge a man's character. Can you elaborate on that?

MacLaine: I like to know that a straight man I'm interested in is comfortable with Gay people and his own feminine side. I feel that way about straight women, too. Someone who is uncomfortable with the Gay side of life is uncomfortable with half of who they are themselves.

Andrews-Katz: How did your formal Baptist upbringing lead you to what is called "New Age Theology"?

MacLaine: I wasn't "formal Baptist." If I were, I'd never get to where I am now. We just went to a Baptist church.

Andrews-Katz: Do you have a particular past life that surfaces strongly in your memory?

MacLaine: There are lots of them that surface at different times depending on what I'm going through and what is required for the day's evolution and the day's survival. These days, I'm remembering times in Atlantis because we have such problems with weather and natural disasters. In 2012 we come to the 24,000 time period that ends at the precision of the winter equinox. At the end, we'll have a gravitational alignment that will be in direct alignment with the center of the galaxy. We'll also have a magnetic frequency alignment that affects our consciousness on those levels. Everything is a question - not of something biological, but of "frequency" and "vibrations," as they say. And the proof of that is how this alignment is causing people to go nuts. They can't quite balance themselves yet because it is happening in ways they never recognized before. At the apex of this process of alignment in 2012, people will have a real sense of human balance. The choices we make between now and then determine how difficult that timepiece will be for each of us.

Andrews-Katz: You've said that audiences don't know whether to expect a Hollywood memoir, a cabaret act, or a lecture on metaphysics. Can you tell me what Seattle audiences should expect?

MacLaine: I'm going to speak on my life, Hollywood, my travels (both inner and outer), 2012, and any questions the audience wants to ask for a Q&A section & as long as they sign a nondisclosure document. [Laughs.]

Andrews-Katz: Your book Out on a Leash is about human connections with their pets. What lessons can our pets teach us?

MacLaine: It's not just about our pets, it's about the lessons animals can teach us. I've known Terry the rat terrier since ancient Egypt. It's all about the past life memories that I can learn from Egypt. Our pets are tied to the collective light - or God, if you will - and the collective love. So many people are having better relationships with their pets than with the people in their lives. I'm already dealing with what happens after Terry goes in another 4-5 years. I'm not sure what I'll do without her.

Andrews-Katz: After performing in five different Broadway shows, 61 films (with six Academy Award nominations and two wins), and authoring 12 books, what do you do next?

MacLaine: Just stay alive! What I'm doing is - how should I put this? - I'm forming a spiritual inner Camino Boot Camp at my ranch in New Mexico. I'll have 12 people at a time and the best "past life therapist" to come in to recall their past lives and what people need to work on. There'll be Chinese acupuncture techniques and facilitators. I've wanted to do it for years. I'm also doing a movie in the fall.

Shirley MacLaine started on Broadway. Her performance in The Pajama Game brought her Hollywood attention where she would soon work with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, and Jack Nicholson. She made her directorial debut with Bruno (released as The Dress Code), about a young boy who liked to dress in dresses. Her views on spirituality have brought her much attention throughout her diverse career as ballet dancer, singer, actress, director, and author.

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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Shirley MacLaine
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