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Angela Lansbury: I still love acting

2013-01-07 20:03
 
Sydney -  They're starring in a play about a woman reluctant to age and the perils of passing time, but veteran actors James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury say that life in their 80s continues to be exciting thanks to their determination to keep doing what they love.

Jones and Lansbury are currently in Australia to star in a touring production of Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer-Prize winning play Driving Miss Daisy.

Both of the veteran actors have said the thrill of performing has propelled them throughout their decades-long careers and gives them the energy necessary to keep up with their often gruelling schedules.

"First of all, wake up. Wake up and try to get your bones moving," a grinning Jones, who turns 82 this month, said ahead of the cast's first rehearsal.

"And then be enthusiastic about what you do. I'm very enthusiastic about acting still. I love the process of creating a character."

'Gave me a career after 70'

For 87-year-old Lansbury, whose seven-decade career has spanned stage, film and television, performing live gives her a rush that can't be matched on the screen.

"You get on stage and you really can let it out," she said. "You're not hampered by camera angles or lighting."

Lansbury, nominated for three Oscars and beloved for her role as amateur detective Jessica Fletcher on the long-running TV series Murder, She Wrote, said it was the stage that gave her a jolt of fresh inspiration later in life.

"Coming back to the theater about seven years ago turned the tide for me, it really did. Because it gave me a career after 70," she said.

"I could still work in the theater and play great roles, but it wasn't so easy to continue as a motion picture actress. Which I was very glad of - I didn't like the way we were making movies... The kind of roles I would like to play didn't seem to exist. But I love the theater and, as it turned out, it was the thing to do."

Both actors jumped at the chance to perform in Driving Miss Daisy, which began as an off-Broadway play and inspired the Oscar-winning film starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.

Angela doesn't miss Jessica Fletcher

The play follows the evolving friendship of Daisy and her chauffeur Hoke in the American South over 25 years.

"When I saw Morgan do it, I said 'I'd like to play that role,'" Jones said. "I thought I understood (Hoke) and I want to understand him more." He also believes that he was attracted to the role, because of Hoke's illiteracy.

"Hoke Colburn is such a character. He's illiterate, but he speaks English... and uses it very effectively and very poetically," Jones said. "That's what I love about the role, trying to understand how he re-weaves language so he gets himself across."

Lansbury said it was the play's setting in the American South that helped attract her to the role of Daisy.

"I understand the southern mentality," she said. "I went to drama school with a number of young women who came from (the South) and I never forgot them and I never forgot the way they spoke. Their accents were so interesting to me."

The role is a big change from her 12-year run as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, and the change is welcome. While Lansbury has a soft spot for the mystery writer, she admits she doesn't miss her much.

"I was happy to retire her. I'm constantly reminded of her by people who are still very fond of watching the show. I can't get away from it!" she said with a laugh. "I'm more famous for Jessica Fletcher than anything."


- AP

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