Talk about doing good work with good people, just looking at your resume at this point, you must feel so blessed. Tony Kushner and M. Night Shyamalan, and all of these people that are just at the top of their game, just to be part of that whole cultural zeitgeist must just be amazing. It's amazing enough for the audience just to be around when these works are being created, but for you to get to bring that to other people, how does that feel?
You pinch yourself. I still feel like I'm about 14 years old. I am sort of living the life I dreamed I could possibly lead. I never for even a second take a minute of it for granted. And I have so much fun, Jeff, with what I do. And I don't think I'm particularly good at it, and I still feel like a complete student at it. I'm never going to be satisfied ever. But I'm going to be bound and determined to enjoy it because, as all old people tell young people, it does go quickly.
That's one thing I'm always curious about. Having performed this role so many times, how do you be in the moment and live in that role for the 90 minutes every night?
I'll tell you, sometimes it's hard. There are some nights when I just sit down at that desk, and I'm in her skin and I'm in her shoes, and I'm absolutely raring to go. And there are other nights I sit down, and I have a tremendous amount of difficulty focusing. I might be a little tired, or if I'm not well, or just for whatever reason, if I had some personal problems that day. Things that can just take you away from the task at hand. And that's when you really just have to draw on your professionalism and hope and pray it will get you through. Because we're human and what we do, we're expected to go out there and be on, and as near-perfect as you can be, and you just cannot always be, and you have to cut yourself some slack. Live theater can be very daunting at times because you can lose your confidence. If you lose that confidence, then you're paralyzed. So, you have to be gentle with yourself. And know that in the performing arts, we do what most people on the planet fear most, which is getting up in front of people. And just because we do it for a living doesn't mean that we're not scared of it, too. You know? We are. We've just learned to manage the fear most of the time, but we can't manage it all of the time, so even after being in the theater for 30 years, I'm as terrified sometimes as the child going out to play their first piano recital at the age of nine. I feel their pain!
Does it add any pressure with Cherry Jones above the title on the marquee?
Sure! I think I have a little problem with success, to be quite honest. I always feel freer in my projects that haven't been quite as successful. I really do, because I know that the heights aren't necessarily what's expected of me. With Doubt, the production, and the play, and each of us in this production has garnered a lot of praise. So, there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with that. It can be a little scary.
After the tour, do you expect there will be a Doubt movie?
There's definitely going to be a Doubt movie. John Patrick Shanley turned in the script to the producer, and they'll go about casting it. Those of us involved in the stage production more than likely won't be involved with the film because they'll need to get big box office names, and they'll be able to. I don't know who's going to play Sister Aloysius. I'm sure it will be... I mean, I know who I'd like to see play it, but I'm not going to say that right now.
One thing that I keep torturing myself over is it seems there's a natural tendency, because I'm finishing up my first novel much later in life than I would have liked, and it seems there's this whole notion of 'I'm going to have a back-up plan,' and even in the David Mamet book he writes: 'The best advice one can give an aspiring artist is "Have something to fall back on." The merit of the instruction is this: those who adopt it spare themselves the rigor of artistic life.'
I've always found that people who have a back-up plan always follow the back-up plan, and those who don't proceed with what they originally set out to do. I had no back-up plan because I had no other skills. I could do nothing else. I really could do nothing else, so I knew I had to make it as an actress if I was going to feed myself. And all of my friends who could do something else did because they could and they had to. There just comes a point where you have to feed yourself.
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