Ellen Burstyn: ‘Women on screen were prostitutes or victims- I wanted to embody a hero’
At 85, the award-winning actor is preparing for her directorial debut and starring in a new movie. She talks about Trump, feminism and the accident on The Exorcist gave that still leaves a bitter taste
‘It’s startling !” Ellen Burstyn isn’t talking about her war 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 partisan of his predecessor but was a visible part of Barack Obama’s campaign.
” I was so happy and delighted for this country that we finally had were allowed to step over the line into some kind of reasonable stance and then it rebounded direction back the other way ,” she says.” But I recall the Russians did it, don’t you concur ?”
Throughout our exchange, 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, trifles and furniture signalling a life filled with travel, it seems well-suited to the topic at hand, given that we are here to chitchat about her new movie. The House of Tomorrow stars Burstyn as an idiosyncratic woman who maintains a geodesic dome home with her teenage grandson, played by Asa Butterfield. Their lives are led by the teachings of designer and futurist Buckminster Fuller, who, in reality, was close friends with Burstyn.
” The head, Peter Livolsi, sent it to me not knowing I was associated with Mr Fuller in the past ,” Burstyn says.” It was quite by collision .”