Shirley MacLaine has lived a lot in her 78 years. She also famously insists that she’s lived centuries more in past lives. But MacLaine hasn’t given a thought to retiring. Why should she? Her deliciously nasty turn as an old woman a small town loves to hate in Bernie, opposite Jack Black, earned rave reviews. Now, she’s got a juicy co-starring role in the hugely popular Emmy-winning Masterpiece series Downton Abbey as Lady Cora’s mother Martha Levinson, who arrives from New York to upset the household. In the January/February issue, on newsstands now, The Saturday Evening Post contributor Jeanne Wolf dishes with MacLaine on her life philosophies, jovial outlook, and her captivating role in Downton Abbey. Read it HERE.
On dressing for Downton Abbey: “Those authentic costumes took some work. The corsets were really demanding and the buttons on everything were so small. I understood the class system after getting ready every morning to go on set. I realized women of that time couldn’t get it together without a couple of servants.”
On acting with Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the fearsome Dowager Countess Violet Crawley: “We get along famously. She told me that we had met 40 years ago backstage at the Oscars next to the catering table. I was up for something, and there was this big chocolate cake sitting there. And somebody else won. Maggie said, ‘You know what you did, dear? You tucked right into that chocolate cake and said, “#*&% it. I don’t care if I’m ever thin again.’ I didn’t remember it. Maggie has a better memory. She’s one year younger than I am.”
On loving someone forever: “I think the need to promise to be with someone until the end of your days is foolish. And we don’t even want to have a discussion about monogamy. It just makes me laugh. I think the real challenge of love is more about sustaining a relationship with yourself. If you don’t have that with yourself, you can’t have it with others. Relationships keep changing, too. So I guess the only thing consistent is change, really. That’s what I’m learning. I’m much more attracted and, I think always have been, to peace and humor than I am to sexuality.”
On Frank Sinatra: “The truth is that Frank Sinatra’s capacity for friendship is all-encompassing. He doesn’t get good press, but I know a Frank that those who write about him don’t know. Maybe they’ve had run-ins with him. That hasn’t happened to me. Frank’s a bundle of contradictions. At times he’s unreasonable, at times temperamental. He can be compassionate and insensitive, gentle and rough. But he can also be as kind as anyone I’ve ever know. If a person has all those contradictions, and you still find him good to know, you’ve got to call him your friend.” MORE