LOUISE FLETCHER: JACK NICHOLSON'S
NURSE IS NOW LINDA BLAIR'S SHRINK.
AN INTERVIEW ARTICLE
Wednesday, February 16, 1977, 9 P.M., L'Escofier restaurant on the 36th floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, overlooking downtown Beverly Hills. AW, Catherine Guinness, ex-art-collector Susie Frankfurt, her uncle, Joe Van Ronkel, wine connoisseur for the Hilton chain, and art dealer Doug Christmas are dining with Louise Fletcher, the Academy Award winning actress for her performance of Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This June Louise returns to the screen as Linda Blair's psychiatrist in Exorcist II: The Heretic, co-starring Richard Burton.
Louise is wearing a black bolero dress by a local Greek designer. Susie is wearing a sequined cape by Sonia Rykiel. AW is wearing his usual Brooks Brothers/Levi-Strauss combo. L'Escofier is decorated in the grand French restaurant gold-on-gold manner, and features a stained glass ceiling. A huge eternge filled with red carnations sits in the center of the table, which is covered with a domestic pointe Venise lace tablecloth.
(Tape #1, Side A.)
LF: I've never been here.
AW: None of us have.
LF: Pink angora wouldn't have worked here. Look at this view.
CG: Did you finish packing?
LF: Such as it is. It's a bag this big.
AW: Where are you going?
LF: Back East for two days.
AW: Really? But you were just in New York.
LF: I know, but I have to go back. The weather's changing, I hear.
AW: It's really cold. That's why I was glad to come here.
LF: I can't believe we're actually talking about the weather!
AW: You're so beautiful.
LF: I'm sorry I'm missing your party tomorrow night. That's at another place I've never been -- Mr. Chow's. How was Alan Carr's party? Nice?
AW: It was great. You know who I met there? Henry Winkler. He thinks you're great.
LF: He's wonderful, isn't he? He's doing the new Hamlet.
CG: Is he playing a normal Hamlet?
LF: He's not doing The Fonz, if that's what you mean.
AW: I think it's for children or something.
LF: I heard the other day that Shakespeare didn't think that he was a very good writer. He thought he was a hack.
AW: Maybe he was then.
LF: Do you like him, Andy?
AW: I like the movies of his plays.
LF: Some of the Sonnets are so beautiful. Did Alan Carr have lots of people?
AW: No, just ten. He had the Simons.
LF: Neil and Marsha?
AW: Yes, and then he had. . .
LF: Did you hear I was going to work with Neil?
AW: No. Is it from a play?
LF: No, it's an original. I'm going to play Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.
AW: You mean the character you're playing is Ingrid Bergman?
LF: As a character in Casablanca, yes. It's a big cast with a lot of small parts like that. What have you been doing lately?
AW: I've been travelling. I've been to so many cities. I've been to Aspen and Denver and Nashville and Vancouver and. . .
LF: How did you like Nashville?
AW: That was the best trip. It's so rich down there. I really loved it.
LF: And Aspen?
AW: It's so beautiful, so healthy-looking. The food was healthy, everything was.
LF: I just went there for the first time, too. I went skiing with my kids in Vail.
AW: I have friends who have built a house there. It's designed by somebody named Venturi. Do you know his things?
LF: I probably should but I don't. Is it very modern?
AW: No, he's trying to make houses look like houses again. It's new modern or old modern or something like that.
LF: I'm reaching that point where I want to have a place to go away to on weekends.
AW: I don't. I don't want to go anywhere. It takes so much time. But then travelling makes time go by so fast. That's about the only thing that makes life worth living, I guess -- the days travelling around. They make time go by so fast. But I'm tired.
LF: I love the time I spent in New York a few weeks ago. I really had a good time.
AW: New York now is so much fun. It's just like the 60s. You have three different things to do every night.
LF: I wish I could live there.
AW: No, you should just work a lot. You're so good. You should work all the time.
LF: I do the best I can do.
LF: You say you don't like travelling but you do so much of it. Is it that you hate the travelling part and you like it when you get there or do you hate it all?
AW: No, I just like to stay home. I like everything about everything but that's what I like best.
LF: Then why do you travel?
AW: I don't have any more ideas so now I do personal appearances.
LF: Carnations are my least favorite flower.
AW: I like them because they're not dyed. Don't they usually dye them green?
LF: I just don't like carnations. I don't know why.
AW: This is another beginning. It still isn't the main course.
LF: This is the end of the beginning, you might say. This is in the French manner. I'm glad we're talking about food. That's what I love about your interviews. You always seem to be talking about the salad or something.
AW: We should change the subject. We should talk about love. But I don't believe in it so I can't think of a question.
LF: How about: "Love in the movies these days -- does it exist?"
AW: I was disappointed in the Barbra Streisand A Star Is Born because I didn't get goose-bumps. She's really great but I didn't get them.
LF: I had an incredible experience with A Star Is Born. I went with a man who cried. Now I cry at the drop of a hat in movies -- I'm so easily moved. But he wept more and more tears and I didn't shed one tear.
AW: I didn't either.
LF: People don't believe in love too much any more or it's harder to come by or something.
CG: I love romantic films but the sex bit is so boring. The Enforcer with Clint Eastwood was so great because there was no sex.
AW: There almost was for one minute.
CG: Yes, his partner, who was a woman, came on to him for just a second. But who wouldn't?
LF: He's an incredible specimen, isn't he?
CG: Someone told me that Sarah Miles was terribly upset because that film we saw her in was so bad.
AW: But it was a very successful movie. Did you see it? The Sailor Who Fell Off the Ship or something?
LF: The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea?
AW: Yes, that one. She masturbated in it.
LF: Did she? I didn't see it.
AW: Yes, and it wasn't just once. It was like five times. For fifteen minutes each time. The whole idea was a little boy was looking through a keyhole and watching his mother and a sailor doing it.
LF: Kris Kristofferson?
AW: Yes. He was great.
LF: I loved him in A Star Is Born.
AW: Some movies work and some don't, I don't know why. Can you tell from the script?
LF: Sometimes you can. And you can tell when you're making the film. On One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest -- you asked about love -- you could feel the love that people had for each other and for the project we were working on. We worked as a group rather than as isolated individuals. It certainly worked in that film. But they don't come around very often.
AW: Milos [Forman}. . .
(End of Side A.)
(Tape #1, Side B.)
LF: . . .and tell Milos you want to drink something you've never drunk before.
AW: Like what?
LF: Just say it.
AW: Like what?
LF: He'll serve you something that you've never had before.
CG: Is he in New York?
AW: Yes, he's with Lester Persky. He's directing Hair.
CG: So there was Jack Nicholson and him and you and that Indian fellow. What's he like?
LF: Will Samson? He's marvelous. I haven't seen him since.
CG: It's funny how when you work with people on a movie you become so close and then you might never see them again, or if you see them it's never the same.
LF: It's worked differently on this one. Lots of us are still very close. But it is a sad thing about this business -- that you fall in love with people and then lose them. It's like going away to boarding school, isn't it? Or serving a prison term. Maybe that's how you can categorize films -- whether it was like going to prison or whether it was like going to a very good boarding school.
AW: You're just picking at your food.
LF: Do you think being thin is an act of aggression?
AW: I don't know.
LF: I've heard that theory applied to women.
LF: I can't believe I'm going to be in New York tomorrow -- for just two days.
AW: And I'm here for just two days.
LF: Two days here and two days there. Where do you go next?
AW: San Francisco and then Miami.
LF: For someone who hates to travel you get around. I'm from Alabama, you know.
AW: Really? You don't sound it.
LF: I've learned to turn it on and off at will.
AW: I was just in Birmingham. That wasn't one of my favorite places. I don't know why.
LF: They didn't put on the Southern hospitality for you>
AW: No, they were great. I guess we didn't have enough time there. It was too arranged.
LF: I think the South is a really wonderful place.
AW: Nashville was really great. I met a lot of product names there. I met Jack Daniels. I met Maxwell House Coffee.
LF: These were people?
AW: Yes, they were great. In Birmingham they're a lot of famous brands, too, but I guess I didn't know who they were.
LF: That's what makes you happy?
AW: Well, Jack Daniels is my favorite drink so to meet the person who owns Jack Daniels was so exciting.
CG: He was lovely.
LF: His name was Jack Daniels?
AW: No, it's Brown.
LF: In England you have all those famous people who own Dewars, Cutty Sark. . .
AW: Really? There's somebody named Cutty Sark?
LF: As far as I know it's a ship. You know, in the South women never go in liquor stores. It's just like Ireland. Or into a barber shop. I still can't even look in a barber shop. I just turn my head. I go funny over the thought. It's embarrassing.
CG: I quite agree.
LF: You're taught not to. I just read a screenplay about an Irish woman who's an alcoholic. There's a traumatic scene where she doesn't have any and has to buy some. She goes all the way across Dublin to some terrible place where she won't be seen and she pays some boy to go inside and buy the whiskey for her. She says she wants Black Label and he gets her some rubbish. It's terrible.
AW: Are you doing it?
LF: I'm interested. I'd have to do an Irish accent so I'd definitely have to go to Ireland. I can pick it up like that but I'd have to go there to hear it. The Dublin accent is so beautiful. It's not like Northern Irish, which I find rather nasty and unattractive.
CG: Stage Irish doesn't exist, as you know, unless you go to a very good play.
LF: I'm talking about educated Irish accents.
CG: That's English with a kind of vague lilt.
AW: What's that sound like? Like Sean McKenna?
CG: No, that's different. That's a very good Cork accent. But Dublin and Cork can hardly talk to each other.
LF: Well, she -- the character -- is an educated, very religious, neurotic, alcoholic spinster. It's exhausting just thinking about it.
AW: Movies really are getting better and better, aren't they?
LF: Well, they're not so many of them but they're spending a lot on the ones they do do.
AW: I like them all now.
LF: I liked Network. I think they had a very important message about television and one that I believe in. But they hammered it so hard. They did it almost like television does. They didn't give the audience credit for any intelligence. They preached at you in a way I found upsetting. But it was still a film that had to be made.
AW: New York and California have the best television. It never goes off.
LF: I just never watch it.
CG: The Pallisters is on now.
LF: I did see that. And I read the book years ago. I love Trollope. I've read everything he wrote. I'm a Trollopian.
CG: Have you really? Even the obscure things? I love him.
LF: Yes, all in a year's time when I lived there in London. Once you begin you can't stop. It's like watching a soap opera.
CG: Virginia Chambers told me, "I can't believe that somebody who likes Trollope works for Andy Warhol."
LF: I can. You know, Ara's [Gallant] going to be terribly disappointed. He told me to do the entire interview and never tell the truth once. He said, "It's so boring to tell the truth. You should say you were born in Bolivia. And then he'll say, "Oh, great. You must speak Spanish." Then you say, "No, my mother thought it would be very dangerous for me to speak Spanish so I was never allowed to speak Spanish or listen to it." And then he'll say. . ."
AW: That is great.
LF: But I can't do it. I've failed completely!
--redacted by Chris Hemphill
Copyright May 1977 Interview Magazine. Thanks to Diane from Interlibrary Loan at the Four County Library System for the text, and Vernon from eBay for the photo.