At 85, the award-winning actor is preparing for her directorial entry and starring in a brand-new movie. She talks about Trump, feminism and the accident on The Exorcist placed that still leaves a bitter taste

‘It’s scaring !” Ellen Burstyn isn’t talking about her conflict with a beast in The Exorcist. Nor is she recalling her battle with amphetamine addiction in Requiem for a Dream. Rather, as I sitting there 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 predominate has an added sting. Burstyn was not only a vocal adherent of his predecessor but was a visible part of Barack Obama’s campaign.

” I was so happy and satisfied for this country that we finally had been able to step over the line into some kind of reasonable attitude and then it rebounded mode back the other way ,” she says.” But I imagine 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 ornaments, trinkets 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 brand-new movie. The House of Tomorrow stars Burstyn as an idiosyncratic girl who are in a geodesic dome home with her teenage grandson, played by Asa Butterfield. Their lives are led by the teachings of architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller, who, in reality, was close friends with Burstyn.

” The head, Peter Livolsi, moved it to me not knowing I was associated with Mr Fuller in the past ,” Burstyn says.” It was quite by accident .”

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Ellen Burstyn in The House of Tomorrow. Photograph: Shout Studios

It is Livolsi’s feature-length directorial introduction and I imagine it must be intimidating to steer relevant actors of Burstyn’s experience. After all, she has worked with Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, Oliver Stone, Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan. It was Burstyn who was responsible for getting Martin Scorsese to lead her 1974 humor Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore .

” I adoration new chairmen ,” she says. When she opted Scorsese to direct Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, he was a relative newcomer.” I wanted to find someone new. When I think about it now, what I’ve always been attracted to is that their expertise hasn’t been mashed hitherto. It hasn’t gotten defiled by knowledge so it’s just fresh. As person formerly said, whatever can go wrong will go wrong when making a film, so I’m prepared for that .”

Not many actors know as well as Burstyn about what can go wrong on a placed. When obliging The Exorcist in 1972, industrial accidents left her on crutches for the rest of the production. As she recalls the incident, she was drew on to the floor with a cable during a scene where she is slapped by her devilish infant, Regan.

” I said:’ He’s drawing me more hard .’ Billy[ Friedkin, the film’s director] said:’ Well, it has to look real .’ I said:’ I know it has to look real but I’m telling you, I could get hurt .’ So, Billy said:’ OK, don’t pull her so difficult ,’ and as I turned away, I felt him signal the guy and he crushed me on the flooring. I expected Billy to wail section. Instead, I received him touch the cameraman’s forearm to move the camera closer and I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Through my screams, I said:’ Turn the fucking camera off .'”

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Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Photograph: Mondadori via Getty Images

The memory still leaves a bitter taste. It carries even more power in an atmosphere where the irresponsible behaviour of directors is being re-examined following Uma Thurman’s story of mistreatment by Quentin Tarantino during a automobile gate-crash on the situate of Kill Bill.

” That was a bad experience ,” she says.” I don’t feel that I was complicit in it because I told[ Friedkin] not to do it. When I think about it now, why weren’t there pads on the storey, why weren’t there pads on my back ?”

She underwent “all kinds of” medicine for the rest of production. Friedkin did not apologise, either then or since. In a recent interrogation with the Guardian, he repudiated she was seriously affected.” I’m sure she was hurt by the fall – you fall on your backside, it’s gonna hurt- but she wasn’t injured ,” he said.

While the experience might have left its mark, Burstyn’s time in the industry has been devoid of the sexual harassment that many of her peers have experienced.” I’ve always been treated pretty well ,” she says.” I’ve had a got a couple of ordeals; there have been a couple of dumb guys that I worked for early on. But for the most part I’ve always been respected. When I was a model, that wasn’t true. Before I became an actress, when I was 19, 20, I had to handle some situations that were ugly .”

Was she is conscious of female peers suffering at the hands of other sex predators in Hollywood?

” The only being I ever heard legends about like that was our chairperson ,” she says, although she doesn’t reveal any specifics.

She encounters Harvey Weinstein “sick” and the allegations against him “flabbergasting” but is optimistic about the” seismic alteration in the consciousness” and the opportunities that women are now being offered. She supposes Wonder Woman is” a incredible movie” and accolades” all those women warriors” in Black Panther.

Early in Burstyn’s career she made an important choice about how she would be viewed as a woman in Hollywood.” It occurred to me, I could have a career based on my examines ,” she says.” But if I did, it would be a very short career and that I’d better not rely on that. So, I went to see[ Lee] Strasberg and I studied the art of playing. And it establishes me so happy to be 85 and still operating .”

She turned down a lot of personas early on because they didn’t fit with how she wished to be seen.” I wanted to depict maidens as heroes because that’s what they are ,” she says.” Women were either scoundrels or wives who abode dwelling while their spouses went out to save the world. Or they were prostitutes. Or they were victims. I wanted to embody a woman as a hero, so those were the places I “re looking for”. After a while, I couldn’t do that any more. You get to a stage where work is welcome .”

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Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream. Photograph: Allstar/ Cinetext/ Artisan Entertainment

She tells me she regrets turning down the role of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but remains glad with another important decision at that time.” I turned down a lot of coin for The Exorcist 2 ,” she says.” You can’t make a brand out of The Exorcist. It’s just ridiculous .”

In general, she doesn’t dwell on the past. Next she is stepping behind the camera to obligate her directorial debut with Bathing Flo, a humor in which she will too star.” I’ve been putting it together for three years ,” she says.” We’re going to start shooting at the end of April and all of May and I pray I “ve been coming” alive. It’s very exciting .”

She has also gained lessons from working with director Jennifer Fox in the devastating sexual abuse drama The Tale, which won plaudits at Sundance this year. While her busines has given her plentiful opportunities with male chairmen, there is something different about working with a woman.” I think that’s significant differences on mount ,” she says.” The male heads are governing and the female administrators are working as a team .”

* The House of Tomorrow is released after the US on 27 April with a UK date yet to be announced

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