Patti LuPone: 'I wish America would just crash and burn and get it over with so we can start over' (2023)

"I turned to my publicist and said, 'Well, you're going to do some stuff tomorrow'." That's the usual conclusion to the stories that legendary stage actress Patti LuPone, 74, is sharing this Friday. For example, when she recalls the time in early 2017 when she was asked on the red carpet if she would sing for the newly elected President Trump. She said no without batting an eye; when asked why, she added with a smile, "Because I hate that fool." Of course, the publicist did what he could, but that video went viral. The prima donna summed up the fury of the American left. "Yeah, it went [viral.] I was proud ... to be the first person to call him a jerk because [Robert] De Niro called him a jerk and someone else [Samuel L. Jackson] called him damn it. And I was the first," she says. "I really hate that bastard... Not just because he was president. He's been an asshole in New York as long as he's been a celebrity. Everyone in New York hate him. Nobody likes him in New York."

That episode launched Patti Ann LuPone's current renaissance. Not long ago, the acting legend thought he would retire after 50 years on stage; it is now more popular than ever. This is partly due to her many viral videos that followed Trump's comments, in which she displayed the same strong charisma. Through video, a new generation has discovered that LuPone, from Long Island, is an infectious – and grumpy – source of gossip, criticism and rants about American culture. But her current popularity also stems from the fact that the theater establishment recently seems to have granted her the prestige it had denied her for years (even demanding composer Stephen Sondheim finally let her sing his scores after years of rejection; LuPone won two of his parts.three Tony Awards for these performances, Gypsy in 2008 and Company in 2022). Her impressive CV – consisting of so many successes that at times undermined her credibility – seems to have coalesced into an undeniable whole: a favorite of David Mamet since 1976, she made the leap to musical theater with the most recognizable voice in the US and participated in the über rushEvita(1979); portrayed Fantina inpoor(1984) and appeared briefly as Norma Desmond inSunset Boulevard(1933). By the 1990s, she had a high enough profile to contend with the industry's leading composers, which she did. Even today, LuPone distinguishes between being the most famous actress in musical theater and being an ordinary actress. "I started out as a real actor," she declares. "Classic actor. But I have this voice."

But there is more to her renaissance than that. At her age, LuPone stopped doing musicals for good (she had to reconstruct the cartilage in her shoulder and both hips) and began to prioritize films and television. Recently she appeared in showsHollywood(Netflix) iAmerican Horror Story(FX), and graces the big screen in the recently released film Hereditary directed by Ari AsterBeau is scared. International fame, she says, suits her well. "I've never understood why I don't work here. I've always felt that my career should have been in Europe because [I feel] much more European than I am American. [her great-uncle was born in Madrid, the Italian soprano Adelina Patti; her parents have Italian roots]. When I was 16 years old in the apple orchard at our house on Long Island and I didn't have a career... I said in my head, my career is in Europe and I was 16 years old."

Q.You have the feeling that your career is on another level right now.

IN.No, look at me, I fell. Look...I have a tracksuit. I'm in Atlanta filming some spin-off of something. I don't know, you know what? I am grateful for that.

Q.How do you celebrate 50 years of career with such grace? As women get older, they don't always become more prestigious.

IN.Well, I tried to figure that out too. I think because it was 50 years on the stage, and I think instead of going west to Hollywood, where women become obsolete after a certain age, I extended my career by staying on the stage. And when I did Evita, my applause used to fade after [co-star] Mandy [Patinkin] because they were so ambiguous about what they were thinkingEvita, I performed in a cabaret at midnight so people could see who I was. And what it did was it established an alternative economic viability, which was the concerts. So when I'm not on stage or in movies or television, I can hit the road and sing. But I was lucky enough to keep working because I think I spent a lot of time on stage.

Q.In a way, it doesn't workEvitathe movie was good for you [LuPone famously said of Evita, the 1996 film adaptation, "I thought it was shit."Madonnais a movie killer. She is dead behind the eyes. It cannot be pulled out of a paper bag. She shouldn't be in a movie or on stage. She's a great performer for what she does, but she's not an actor.”]

IN.[Smile] Maybe. But the very fact that I kept working... I just kept working on different things.

Q.Your career is full of successes and disappointments. In 1993 you were to star in an Andrew Lloyd Webber filmSunset Boulevard. Suddenly very publicly fired you and replaced withGlenn Close. You sued him and got a million dollars out of him. With that money, you built a pool at your home in Connecticut, which he calls the Andrew Lloyd Weber Memorial Pool. Is it correct?

IN.[Laughter] It's fun to be a little grumpy.

Q.Sorry to ask, but is Weber spelled with a B? The composer hates when his name is spelled that way.

IN.It's not spelled differently in my head.

Q.Andrew Lloyd Webber was the commercial giant who did itAvoid, katteIPhantom of the Opera. But at that time, the outstanding genius Stephen also felt that it was too much for his scores.

IN.I auditioned to replace Bernadette [Peters] when Bernadette left [Sunday in the park with George, Sondheim's acclaimed 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about Georges Seurat] and I didn't understand the part, I remember Steve [Sondheim] coming up to the altar and saying, I don't want no belt... don't even open my mouth .

Q.How did you end up working with Sondheim?

IN.I never played Sondheim, and the only reason I played Sondheim was this man named Wells Kaufman, who was an artist or something with the Philharmonic in New York and then became the executive director of Ravinia [a music festival in Chicago]. And... he wanted to play [more] Sondheim roles. And he knew who I was. I remember when I got the offer to do the [Sweeney Todd] movie, I said, "Does Steve know?" And they said yes. And he told me that... It was my first Sondheim role, Nellie Lovett, which I didn't expect. I didn't think it would be Nellie Lovett, but it was the first.

Q.Another Sondheim role to remember was when you played FoscaPassion at Lincoln Center2005. at least because of Sondheim's comment about your distinctive vocalization. He said he just heard "monotone porridge" coming out of your mouth.

IN.He was a superior. And when he gave notes, he didn't spare your feelings. There were many times when I was devastated by what he said to me and I thought he hated me. He could be very mean personally, apart from professionally.

Q.Let's go back to the present. You've spent the last few years starring in one of Sondheim's most iconic works,Community, which is directed by Marianne Elliott and is one of the last projects the composer participated in. Before he died, the composer sent you a message: "From time to time I am brought up when I realize what a wonderful singer you are. It is aside from acting and performance and attention to detail. Anyway, I felt I had to print it. Thanks for improving [sic] my shows - and everyone else's for that matter, with love, Steve ."

A. II think it was for a company [in] London [in 2018]. It was an email he sent and I printed it out and put it on the dressing room mirror. Because...he was a superior... So to get something like that was the biggest reward in my career, to have a superior's approval...I get emotional thinking about it. I really thought he hated me.

Q.Have you stopped doing musicals for good?

IN.The reason I want to stop workingmusicalsfor my body is broken by it. I mean seriously broken. Two new hips and a shoulder. Hips, I must have arthritis. The shoulder was offSweeney Todd, [from] keeping the pipe [in it]. But it was also legs on legs. I was bone to bone in both hips. Bone on bone in the shoulder. I had a thorn in my bone from the bad shoes. Repetition. I chose a week of movement and my body was crushed. And I said, that's it, no more. I mean, I didWar paint[in 2017, on the rivalry between Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein]. I found that I was bone on bone on my right hip right after opening. And I went through it all. I mean, there was so much pain involved.


IN.I put it out in the universe that I wanted to work with Marianne Elliot after I saw Warhorse and after I sawAn unusual incident with a dog in the night, and after I said no more musicals, she called and I said no. But then I remembered what I had put out into the universe and I said if I don't work with her she will never ask me again. So I said I willCommunity. And I'm so glad I did. So basically I don't want to go back to musicals. I set off on a hill.

Q.Your hatred of the Republican Party is well known. Are you happyTrump was arrested?

IN.If something gets stuck, yes. Because we really are in a mess here. We are a broken country. I don't know if he survives it. I do not know. He released something. He opened Pandora's box. So apparently it was always there and he just lifted the lid. But he is also a career criminal and must be held accountable. It must be. And maybe not this New York indictment. It could be an indictment in Georgia, it could be newspapers, secret documents. It could be that[6. January 2021] Rebellion. But he must be held accountable. Everyone does it. If it were me, I'd be in jail. I can't be here anymore. I mean, I really feel like I'm getting ready to leave the country and come to Europe. I have PTSD in this country since the Trump administration.

Q.Do you want to leave?

IN.I fear for this country. No, I'm not afraid anymore. I don't want to be here. I just don't want to be here because I think it's over. I think we are falling apart. I've been saying that forever. I said I wish we could just crash and burn and be done with it so we could start over. It's such a slow descent. Yes, it's a slow descent.

Q. IIn the great stories about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the rise takes up three volumes, while the fall lasts about 17 years.

IN.This is how it feels... We are going backwards. they areban on drag shows.

Q.It affects your community, the theater community. Why do you think they do this?

IN.I think it's a distraction. I think they want to go back. They want to be a Christian country. I mean... what is the difference between our Christian right and the Taliban? I really don't think there is [any difference] between our Christian right wing and the Taliban. And I think they want to go back to a time when the white man ruled and the woman stayed at home and there was no abortion and we didn't talk [about] gays. And unfortunately for them, the world will turn and you will not escape homosexuality. You won't miss drag shows. It doesn't stop. They are harming trans children. They are hurting the trans community. Oh, don't get me started. This is bad. This is bad. And it's hard to be here. It's really hard to be here.

Q.How did you end up doing itBeau is scared?

IN.Well, I'm not sure, but I do know that, unbeknownst to me, we had a relationship. Ari [Aster] is friends with David Mamet's daughter Clara. And I've been doing Mamet plays since 1976... And David wrote a play that was on Broadway called The Anarchist [which LuPone starred in in 2012 opposite Debra Winger]. And Ari came to see it. It only lasted two weeks, but Ari saw it. And he told me that for the next week he was talking to anyone [who would listen] about how I felt about the language. I have no idea. You'll have to ask Ari if he's ever seen me on stage in a musical. But he knew I was a pure actor and he knew I could handle language. So in [our] Zoom [meeting] I asked him. I found this out on a Zoom [meeting]. And I was thrilled that Ari reached me through that vein. And I actually wrote to David when I got the part, I wrote to David [and] said, "thanks for the part."

Q.You are not the only theater actor in the crew; there are also legends like Richard Kind and Nathan Lane. Has the idea of ​​theatricality changed your acting?

IN.I'm Hispanic, it's very easy for us to get our emotions out of our bodies. I am pure Italian and I understood this erratic energy. I understood her disappointment and anger towards him. And I knew I was responsible for the heightened emotional delivery. Acting is simple. If you keep it simple, doing what you need to do is simple. And I had the ability, the emotional ability to do that, to understand what he was writing and delivering.

Q.Is it difficult to switch to film after working in the theater for a long time?

IN.[When] I started, you couldn't cross. People who were in the movie world thought that actors were too big for the camera. And I have to say that stage actors have more technique than film actors because of the discipline of the stage... So it's really easy... well, for me... [it's really easy] to go from stage to film. .. For a film actor who goes on stage, it is a different discipline. It is a more difficult discipline to leave the film, because on film it is a completely different thing. But if you have the discipline of the stage, it is easier to go to the recording. You just have to understand what they mean when they say, "camera left, camera right. Hit your target."

Q.Have you ever been asked to tone down your facial expressions?

IN.I have a big, expressive face. So you just have to figure out how to... use the emotions so they're not too big for the camera. But Ari never told me anything about it. He never said you're too big. Nobody ever told me that. You are too big. Indeed they are. They [said], "Shut up." I just have a great personality.

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