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Why did Maggie want to become an actress?
1) This profession runs in her family.
2) She wanted to overcome the stage fright.
3) Acting on stage felt natural to her.
Presenter: Hello, everybody, and welcome to our daily programme Stardom. Today in our studio we have Maggie Smith, a famous actress. Hello, Maggie.
Maggie: Hello. It’s so nice being here, thank you for inviting me.
Presenter: Could you please tell us about what led you to become an actress?
Maggie: Well, it’s a long story and it’s connected with my musical education.
Presenter: Did you attend a musical school?
Maggie: When I was nine years old, I started playing the piano. I was obsessed. I needed to play for several hours every day. But I wasn’t great, though I was good and I had tremendous passion. I didn’t have any real technical skill, so no matter how much I practised I was never going to be able to really play in front of people. I had tremendous stage fright. Still, the piano was the beginning of me going, “I need an outlet. I need a vehicle.” And then from music, I joined the drama club in high school. I got on stage and I went, “Oh wow. No stage fright.” I couldn’t do public speaking, and I couldn’t play the piano in front of people, but I could act. I found that being on stage I felt, “This is home.’ I felt an immediate right thing, and the exchange between the audience and the actors on stage was so fulfilling. I just went, “That is the conversation I want to have.” It was unequivocal. There was nobody acting in my family, but there didn’t need to be. I just understood what I wanted to do at once.
Presenter: Was it easy to find your director? Would you like to try directing yourself?
Maggie: Well, speaking about working with good directors, that has always been a certain kismet with me. I was lucky. There was a period in the 1980s where you had people who were born to direct, born to shepherd stories. Like David Lynch, who was so unusual, such a rare storyteller, so personal and private, and dreamlike from his subconscious. You know, people ask me why I don’t direct. Well, it’s because I’ve worked with people where that’s what they were born to do, and it’s a little intimidating after you’ve worked with a rash of those people one after another. Then it’s like, “I like acting. Acting is good.”
Presenter: What kind of films do you like acting in?
Maggie: I don’t think the genre matters much. I even try not to look at the story itself because even a banal story may turn into a blockbuster. What I pay attention to and fall in love with is the script. If the script is good, I start just living in those dialogues or monologues.
Presenter: You play a lot of family women. How come?
Maggie: I’ve always played moms. I once played someone who wanted to be a mom. The thing with the role of a mother in our legacy, in world history, in world mythology, is that the role of a mother encompasses the entire universe. There is no limit to what you can express if you are representing that in a story. I’ve just got nominated for an Emmy for playing a mother!
Presenter: Modern women are constantly looking for ways to be more beautiful. As a woman and as an actress, are you satisfied with your appearance?
Maggie: I think that my looks through the years have served me well because I was never a great beauty and I was never cast as a great beauty. So I never leaned on it and I never really made that a high value. I’ve always been kind of androgynous and it’s one of the reasons why I love being an actress. I love experimenting with the male and the female in any character. That balance, the yin and the yang of that, is always in play, because everybody is male and female.
Presenter: Thank you, Maggie. It has been a real pleasure talking with you today.
I found that being on stage I felt, "This is home."