Ellen Burstyn: ‘Women on screen were prostitutes or martyrs- I wanted to embody a hero’
At 85, the award-winning actor is preparing for her directorial debut and starring in a brand-new film. She talks about Trump, feminism and industrial accidents on The Exorcist mounted that still leaves a bitter taste
‘It’s frightening !” Ellen Burstyn isn’t talking about her crusade with a demon in The Exorcist. Nor is she recalling her battle with amphetamine addiction in Requiem for a Dream. Rather, as I sit down opposite her, she is talking about the current US president.
He has become an inescapable topic, especially in New York where we are, but for the 85 -year-old, his reign has an added sting. Burstyn was not only a vocal supporter of his predecessor but was a visible part of Barack Obama’s campaign.
” I was so happy and pleased for this country that we are at last had been able to step over the line into some kind of reasonable outlook and then it ricochetted course back the other way ,” she says.” But I anticipate the Russians did it, don’t you concur ?”
Throughout our speech, Burstyn often asks for my opinion, and then listens with fortitude to what I have to say. We are in her Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan. Filled with diverse adornments, bangles and furniture signalling a life filled with travel, it seems well-suited to the topic at hand, given that we are here to chat about her new film. The House of Tomorrow stars Burstyn as an idiosyncratic female who are in a geodesic dome home with her teenage grandson, played by Asa Butterfield. Their lives are led by the teachings of inventor and futurist Buckminster Fuller, who, in reality, was close friends with Burstyn.
” The administrator, Peter Livolsi, cast it to me not knowing I was associated with Mr Fuller in the past ,” Burstyn says.” It was quite by collision .”