If you’ve seen my Random Roles interview with Cloris Leachman, you already know that we had a pleasant, lighthearted conversation about various highlights of her career, but you might also have been left wondering about the omission of this role or that. This is always a hazard of having a limited time to talk to an interview subject, but in the case of Ms. Leachman, who within mere days of her 86th birthday as of this writing (it’s on April 30), there were several cases where the roles were asked about but answered in such a way that there wasn’t any real point of offering up the responses…at least not on The AV Club, anyway.
If you frequent the comments sections of the AV Club, then you already know some of this stuff, but the issues at hand were twofold. First and foremost, Ms. Leachman occasionally struggled to produce the names of past co-stars, which is absolutely excusable given the length of her career and the number of credits on her resume. On the other hand, however, she was ultimately more interested in her lunch than she was in our conversation, so her concentration on my questions wasn’t exactly 100%…though, again, I find this excusable as well, mostly because she’s Cloris fucking Leachman. Still, to give you a better idea of the conversation, here are the excised bits, though I’ve included a bit of non-excised material to provide better contextualization without requiring you to flip back and forth between this piece and the final version of the interview.
- The Fields (2011)—“Gladys”
Me: What was it about this particular script that made you want to do the picture?
Cloris: Oh, I just loved it. I loved the simpleness of it. They’re just living out there, and they have their work to do in the fields, and they just live a simple life and work hard. But it’s a very strong character, I think. Gladys. And I love my relationship with my family in it, too. Excuse me. [Leans away from phone.] I’m going to sit here. I have a lot more interviews. I’ve told you what’s going to happen. That’s what’s going to happen. I have several more interviews. What do you want me to do? Well, I’ll finish this interview or not. [Waits for a response, then comes back to the interview.] Just keep going. My housekeeper says she’s made some lunch for me, so… [Trails off.]
- Kiss Me Deadly (1955)—“Christina Bailey”
Cloris: [Cackles.] Oh, did you like that one?
Cloris: That was great fun. And I loved…oh, what was his name? The actor I worked with. I just talked about him earlier. He plays the bad guy. What is the damned guy’s name? I can never think of it! What is it? [To the publicist.] Who was it that played Cap’n Andy with me in Showboat? He was in Deliverance. Who’s the guy in Deliverance?
Me: [Uncertainly.] Burt Reynolds? Ned Beatty…?
Cloris: Ned Beatty! That’s him.
Cloris: Okay, what’s next?
[As it happens, Ned Beatty is not actually in Kiss Me Deadly. He was, however, Leachman’s co-star in Dying Room Only, which is also a three-word title revolving around death, so I decided to let it go and just move on. Unfortunately, it also kind of took Dying Room Only off the table, because I had visions of asking about it and having her say, “Didn’t we just talk about that?”]
Me: You do have a tendency to get a little anarchic at times. I was there when you more or less commandeering the Raising Hope panel at the Television Critics Association press tour.
Cloris: [Innocently.] Oh, did I? I’m very sorry. That was when someone asked me about Betty White and I said, “I never liked her,” wasn’t it? [Laughs.]
Me: It certainly was.
Cloris: There are two of me sometimes. Like when I put my leg up on the table when I was on Dancing with the Stars. I didn’t decide to do that. My leg just went up there. It had nothing to do with me. I was as surprised as they were. “What is that doing that? How’d my leg get on the table?” [Laughs.] Oh, excuse me. [Leans away from phone.] I want my lunch in here, please! Bring my food in here. Listen, I’m asking for something, I don’t want to argue about it, just do what I’m saying, please! My God… Sorry where was I?
- Dancing with the Stars (2008)—contestant
Me: Speaking of Dancing with the Stars, was that as fun for you to do as it was for viewers to watch?
Cloris: It was totally wonderful. I’d rehearse for an hour and a half or two hours, and then I’d laugh so hard I’d start to wet my pants. And somehow I gained a pound a day. And I still have them. [Laughs.]
- The New Adventures of Wonder Woman (1975)—“Queen Hippolyta”
Cloris: Oh, I certainly remember that. Who was the costumer on that? He was a famous man. Donfield? He was… Oh, excuse me. [Leans away from phone.] I want my lunch in here, please! Bring my food in here. Listen, I’m asking for something, I don’t want to argue about it, just do what I’m saying, please! My God… Sorry where was I?
Me: The costumer on Wonder Woman.
Cloris: Oh, yeah. I remember him making by hand my hairpiece that I was wearing over my hair. It was all beaded. It was very beautiful, and he made it. He was very proud of himself.
Me: Okay, you should probably go have your lunch.
Cloris: I will if they ever get it to me. But they want me to go out there…and I’m not coming! [Laughs.]