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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  December 17, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PST

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. after her first nomination for gaslight in 54 years since her last nomination for the manchurian candidate, the academy is honoring her for the totality of her work. we are glad you have joined us for a conversation with angela lansbury. coming up right now.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. for seven decades, angela lansbury has impress us with iconic performances like the manchurian candidate and murder she wrote. she received 12 any nominations, one for every year the series was on the air. she has also garnered five tony
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awards for her work on broadway and she received a long-overdue special oscar for recognition for an outstanding career. here is a clip from that event. [applause] >> you have no idea. this is amazing. what an incredible moment. an 11:00 number. tavis: how special was that? out of theabsolutely blue and i had no idea that such a thing could happen. they told me -- my son told me and called me up on the telephone when i was driving in from the airport.
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he says i have something very interesting to tell you. call me back. .o i called him back he said, i wanted you to know that you have been chosen to receive an honorary academy award. i burst into tears. of course, it was so unexpected. it has been worth hanging around all these years. tavis: you've done more than just hang around. you did good work in the intervening years. is a longary academy way from your first nomination. gaslight, you're 17 when you made the film, 18 when you're nominated. and for some people, that would be the highlight of the career. for you, it would be the beginning. >> i was a kid.
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all i knew how to do was to act. that was the only thing i had in my favor. that was the thing that propelled me forward. everything that was going on around me was new. i could not adjust to it. i was a contract player at in jim studios. they put me into goodness knows how many different roles. some were wonderful and some were very distasteful and awful because i was playing out of my age range. i was thoroughly uncomfortable. it took many years to find my acting feet. how did you go about finding those chops? >> i was there for about eight years, doing stock. playing a whole bunch of different roles. that you a great deal
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can feed into your craft. the experience you can actually need. you play that part to a certain degree. and you havel up that experience. playing -- they were roles that just went by the board. i am glad that i had that chance. tavis: what do you make of why you have that chance? i ask that because when you were in the distasteful period, to use your words, out of your character and age range -- there was no guarantee that those great roles that you reference were ever going to come and yet you did not get depressed. you stayed with it.
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>> i did. i really wanted to go back to the live theater. that was the thing i never had a chance to do. even though i trained to be a stage actress. when i opened up in the gaslight , it came about from my experience and my training. nothing was wasted. everything i did actually helped to build revenue of experience. >> is that goodbyes for life -- tavis: is that good advice for life? >> it sounds trite, but it is absolutely true. i don't care if it is a chance meeting or a role that you thought was totally wrong but you did it anyway.
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be the often turn out to role. you just have to be open and ready. let it all happen. at 88, you should know. you've got some experience here. say isthing i always that i wasn't reaching for roles are fighting for roles, people came to me. i was very lucky in that respect. great writers and great producers. they saw something in me that they wanted for their picture or their play. they would come to me, thank god. i was lucky. to colordon't want
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this question anymore than this, tell me about your mother. my mother was one of the most beautiful women of her generation. she was absolutely lovely and an extremely sensitive irish actress. she came to london and she was sort of discovered by several people. actor them was a great and producer. he chose her after she had done a few parts, incidentally. i am going to london -- i am jumping the gun here -- i am going in a few months to re- create a role i did on broadway. it was blithe spirit.
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the theater is a very famous old theater because it was originally called the globe. that is where my mother made her very first professional appearance. i wish i could remember the name. remember.n tavis: that is important. >> let me assure you. this is your first time on this stage? in this play? >> in london, yes. i have never done it there. in england, he is a favorite. to play him in london is such fun.
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the role is such a crazy lady. tavis: how do you process being on the stage were your mom first started? >> i have played london before with gypsy and also [indiscernible] i have done other shows in london, but not for 40 years. play, tok and do a play madame mccarthy there, i think she would be tickled to death knowing that that is what i was doing. she was a wonderfully unique and very special woman. i have had the honor of seeing you on stage a couple of times. recently with james earl jones. moment ago that the memory for lines is in a different compartment.
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it is amazing to me. a wonderful production, she is 88. you are 88. i am stunned every time i sit and watch her or watch you pull this off. artistry, the timing, and the memory. i don't get how you remember all those lines. what you're saying and i wonder myself. a six came back from months to her of driving miss daisy. role and shee never stops talking. shouting. we had a fantastic time,
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incidentally. we got along. we might do another show next year. how long it'd dance of a production are you practicing? -- in advance of a production are you practicing? >> i usually arrive at the first with a vague memory of most of it. what happens is you match the words to the movement. the words that accompany that not locked into your mind or brain or your body. it is a process which all actors go through and it is better not
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to try to learn all the lines. you have to do it by using the process. learn during rehearsals. much: this question is as -- >> call me angela, please. you make me feel 89. tavis: i will work on that, ms. lansbury. >> you are hopeless. tavis: i have been told that many times. this question is as much philosophical as it is practical. give me a word about what you have learned over the years about the value of rehearsal. integral part of learning the character that you
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are playing in relation to the other characters. you learn to work with your co- actors. you learn the values that are inherent in the scene that the writer has written and you learn about who you, as a character, are in relation to others working with you in that scene. psychologically, the values that .re inherent in the dialogue you learn to apply it in the way that you read the lines. not yourself saying those lines, you are somebody else. finding that other person that , that isbe portraying what you are going for, to create a complete character that isn't angela lansbury.
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but the lady that you're playing. it is just a process and it takes time. it takes six weeks during the course of her personal to nail bed individual who is not you, but somebody else. because you have nailed this career and you have become an artistic genius at your craft, i wonder if persons like you feel like they have missed out on other hearts of life because they have been laser focused. >> yes, i feel that oftentimes. what you have let pass by you because you're so busy doing what you do. it is funny. centered on something that i have thought about
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recently. the older i get, the more i realize how much i have missed because i was busy entertaining that audience and so busy pursuing a career. ithough i can't say that pursued a career. it just sort of happened. i was there and i was asked, so i did it. i was aided and abetted by my realize that what i could do is be a good actress. i went along for the ride. it is a god-given gift. you can't say that you wasted your life because you spent all of it acting, but i think i have never been to china or japan. i have never been to yellowstone park.
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that i must go to yellowstone park and yosemite. i have never been. tavis: my mother keeps telling me that i need to go to yosemite. >> well let's go together. this man was talking about you 70. --yosemite. tavis: we will make it a date when you get back from london. the flipside of what you might ,ave missed out on is the joy the sublime joy that you have given to others through your performance. process what you have been blessed to give to the audience? enthusiasts --
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>> i consider that the greatest gift, to me. the reaction that i get from my work. that is a given that i never take for granted. by to be given back audiences and individuals, it is extraordinary. to know that you have lifted people out of their own sadness, in some instances. all of those things that people suffer in life, it is pretty terrific. to be able to elevate. and if you can do it, i think it is important. meis: you are about to make
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cry, and there is no crying on pbs. i am tearing up in part because i feel how authentic that expression was for you. but also in part because i recall the very first time i saw you in person. i was with two friends of mine that was in a restaurant in new york. it was fascinating for me having that conversation at the time. it is not like the show had just let out. you were just walking into a restaurant with your son by the way. you had been with your son. i was sitting with some friends of mine. applauding when you walked in. i was one of those people. the response to you was so
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overwhelming. i thought, that must feel awfully good to just be celebrated for your lifelong contribution. >> it is very moving. respond.now how to i can't say i deserve it. i don't. i have just been around long enough. if i lived to be 88, does that mean they will applaud? they will be like, boo! >> i will sit here and applaud you any day. i was reading the other day that they are going to bring back "murder, she wrote."
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back, but they will launch another run of murder, she wrote. a wonderful actress, a wonderful person. hollywood andover all of these remakes as if we don't have any creativity to do anything different. what is your take on your show being -- "murder,stly feel that she wrote" stands alone as one of the great shows of the past 35 or 40 years that stands alone. it is still on all over the world. i just think that octavia is too good for that. she is doing wonderful movies, for goodness sake. why she would want to do a
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, why shoulderies she just pick up on something like that? just buying the title because it has nothing to do with our "murder she wrote." i think she is playing an important nurse that became involved in solving crimes. they are just making a stupid error. it.deserves better, damn she's playing great roles in movies, for god's sake. is in a wonderful movie that i hope gets some academy love. can i do that on tv? i just did. out,e my time runs
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speaking of your "murder, she ," how do you situate that 12 year run? >> money. tavis: it pays the bills. [laughter] >> i had been out of the movies for years and had a wonderful stage career. you don't really make any money in the theater. every theater actor or actress that has the opportunity, i think it is time to go to television. we needed that annuity. make any money in the long run. tavis: you do it for the love of it? >> i did not intend to do it for 12 years. i chose it very carefully.
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that ithis was a woman could be that woman very carefully. i did not act it. i have 45 seconds left and i can't close without asking how physically, you do it? you look marvelous and are as sharp as ever. >> with a lot of help from my friends and doctors. a bionic woman. i have a very strong constitution and i take excruciatingly good care of myself. tavis: i am thankful for that. >> i don't mean to sound so selfish. tavis: you are not at all and it did not come across that way. you know that we talked on radio before, i have been waiting to finally get you in this chair
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and on the set and it finally happened. >> it is so dear of you to say so because i am such a fan of yours. i just watch you every night. you are the best. ivis: you are the best and will be celebrating you when you start in march in london. >> we will be there until june. tois: and we are going yosemite. angela lansbury. love her. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with angelica houston about her new autobiography.
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that is next time, we will see you then. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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% hello, i'm becca king reed. welcome to "this is us." this week we are coming to you from the vision quest ranch in salinas. this is the home for retired actors, animal actors and tonight you'll get a chance to meet some of the monkeys, big cats and, yes, african elephants who live here. we will also introduce you to a salinas man who has an incredible tale of valor and survival, an artist of another sort. he has spent the past 35 years recreating san francisco in toothpicks. stick around. % ♪ this is us ♪ this

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