LOUISE FLETCHER AT GRAND SLAM
Creation doesn't allow tape recorders at Grand Slam, so this report is based on notes I took. I was writing as fast as I could. I'm sure I missed a couple of questions but she was only on for about 25 minutes.
Louise came onstage and immediately said she would prefer answering questions because that would lead to a better presentation by her than if she were just left to her own devices. She was about to ask for the first question of the two lines of questioners formed at either side of the stage when Marc Alaimo, who had appeared previously during the convention, came onstage to "help her out." The two apparently had not seen each other since they finished playing Winn and Dukat on Deep Space Nine.
There was much applause, then the first questioner asked, "How do you feel about no longer working with Marc and the DS9 cast?" Louise said, "I used to grieve over this (she gestured at Marc) loss of character interaction. But I don't waste my grief anymore. I've moved on."
Someone asked if she was friends with any of the cast, and she replied, "Armin and I are good friends. Armin and his wife Kitty." Marc gestured at himself and shook his head, mouthing, "but NOT me!" behind her back. Armin and Louise had known each other before DS9 began, and Armin and Marc had done a film together in Rome (Arena). Both Louise and Marc said Armin is a man of high moral character.
The next person asked if Marc was a good kisser, and Marc stepped up to answer this question, saying Louise was always sticking her tongue down his throat so he thought SHE was a good kisser. Quoting country music star Ray Stevens, Louise responded, "'Take your tongue out of my mouth, I'm kissing you goodbye!'" The crowd howled. (Marc must think Louise is exceptional in this regard; he talked about how Kai Winn was a good kisser on Cruise Trek 2000, too.)
Someone asked Marc about working with Nana Visitor. He said, "I've always loved Nana. I'd run away tomorrow with Nana." He wished they had been able to further develop the relationship between Dukat and Kira, because they would have made a "hot couple." Marc said that since the show ended, he has maintained a friendship with Nana, but he was always tongue-tied when he did scenes with her and found it hard to breathe around her. Louise pretended to be very upset, saying, "But you never had difficulty in your scenes with me!" Again the crowd howled.
Someone asked if she had input into the stories and Louise said, "I had lots of suggestions about my character. But of course no one listened to me." When pressed about her suggestions, she admitted, "Well, I always imagined young girls in flowing white dresses running in front of the Kai and throwing rose petals at my feet for me to walk on." She wanted Kai Winn to be "drunk with power."
Someone asked if she had any idea what she was getting involved with when she agreed to do DS9 and she said, "I still don't know what I'm getting involved with and I'm here!"
When asked about why playing evil characters is such fun compared to good characters, she talked about evil characters in general. "Evil characters are always the best characters to play. They are developed more. The fun about playing someone who is evil...is not to PLAY an evil person. The way they think is twisted. It's about having a tragic flaw in their make-up that makes them think they are doing the right thing. That makes a bigger monster than someone just being a monster. It's human nature to have tragic flaws."
Louise recalled something Karl Malden told her: "You don't play a heavy. You play someone who acts as a heavy under certain circumstances." She added, "I didn't think Kai Winn ever thought of herself as evil. But the thing that's most familiar to you, that turns on you, is the most frightening. And that was the Kai."
Responding to a similar question about how he ends up playing evil characters, Marc jokingly remarked, "Look at me!" He said he played heavies even in his early days of working in soap operas in New York. "It's more fun to watch someone who's bad than good." Both agreed that it's easier to play a character for a long time on a TV show than a short time in a play.
Someone asked a very strange question, "What religion was the Bajoran religion based on?" She answered confusedly, "Well, I believe that was the religion of the Prophets in the wormhole." They insisted on being told which religion today is it based on, and she said she had no idea what the writers based it on. She also said, "I can't pass any pop quizzes, sorry. In that way I'm just like George W. Bush, or 'Dubya' as we like to call him."
When asked about interesting experiences working on movies, she talked about One-Eyed Jacks and a movie she made in Budapest that had never been released. Marc chimed in that he had also made that same movie in Budapest, but that the two of them had never worked at the same time. She seemed skeptical about his comment. Both used phrases like "Texas tax write-off" to talk about the production.
Someone asked Louise how winning the Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had changed her life. She said it really made no difference in terms of the roles she was offered. Marc was jokingly rolling his eyes. Asked about this year's Academy Award nominations, Louise said she enjoyed Hilary Swank's performance in Boys Don't Cry.
A questioner thanked Louise for her magnificent work in Resurrection. She said, "I'm sorry, but that wasn't me. That was Ellen Burstyn." Of course the fan was mortified and apologized profusely, but Lousie graciously said, "Don't worry, it happens all the time. In fact, while I was working on THAT movie in Budapest, I was at this wonderful restaurant for dinner. It was quite romantic with strolling violinists. This woman at the table behind me leaned over and said, 'I know who you are.' I said, 'You do?' and I was quite pleased. She said, 'Really, I know who you are. You're that great actress. Ellen Burstyn!' And I couldn't convince her that I wasn't Ellen Burstyn. She kept insisting that my secret was safe with her. She was convinced that I was hiding out and didn't want anyone to know I was Ellen Burstyn."
Someone asked why she took such a long hiatus from show business and she gave a lengthy answer about raising her children while her husband worked in the industry in the 1960s in London. When the European film business declined, they moved back. "When I had these two babies to take care of at home, suddenly I couldn't leave. Fortunately I didn't HAVE to work. Our kids went to school in England for the first six years. When we finally returned to California, a director friend of mine asked me to do a part. Well, he sort of blackmailed me into doing the part. But I realized how much I missed it...acting. I think I really benefitted from that break from Hollywood life. So much of it has to do with politics."
A fan mentioned enjoying Louise's work on VR5. "That show was ahead of its time," Louise noted. Her favorite scene in a film was her heart attack in Brainstorm, which took an entire week to film. She has played the mother of killers on both Profiler and Brimstone. Asked whether she prefers film or television, she responded, "The lines are blurred now."
When asked about their favorite DS9 scenes, Louise and Marc both talked about the last episode. Louise said she especially enjoyed scenes with Nana Visitor when she got to condescend to her, as in, "That will be all, my child," or "You may go now, my child." Questioned about Winn's death scene -- "her just due" -- Marc said that everyone enjoyed her death.
Louise was on the set when Avery Brooks accidentally hit Marc in the face during the climactic fight scene between Sisko and Dukat in "What You Leave Behind." She heard the blow hit and break Marc's nose. Marc, who had already had his nose broken once in high school, said he had to be taken to the hospital in Cardassian makeup. He had two black eyes for a week.
Marc apparently dislocated Louise's rotator cuff when he grabbed her in one scene. He said she has "...the softest skin."
The two of them talked a bit about the amazing acting backgrounds and abilities of the "B" characters and how important they were to the show. They both credited the writers as well as the actors for the incredible dynamic of the secondary players. Louise and Casey Biggs have both had to loop dialogue over the phone for the show; she was in London at the time.
After some staged picture opportunities, they left the stage and went to sign autographs. Louise was very gracious in person even though the Creation people were screaming, "No personalizations!"
I know this report shouldn't end on a personal note, but what the hell! She's quite some dame!