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Five questions with Kathy Bates

Posted 12:00am on Saturday, Jul. 12, 2014

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates calls herself “an old lion.”

The actress says she also plays one in the big-screen comedy Tammy. Bates portrays Lenore, a successful entrepreneur who figuratively slaps sense into the film’s lovable loser of a titular character (Melissa McCarthy). The 66-year-old Misery Oscar winner tells us more.

1 I must admit I’m surprised to find you in this movie. You’ve done a few light comedies, such as Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy . But we’re used to seeing you in dramas.

I’d heard they [the creative team of McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone] wanted me for a part. I didn’t know what part. I told my agent, “I will play a giraffe with green spots, whatever they say.” [Laughs.]

2 What was the appeal of McCarthy?

   Even when she gets outrageous, when she gets on the most ridiculous jaunts and puts a bag on her head and all of that, you go with it, because it’s real. It’s grounded in reality. You almost believe, “Hey! I’d do that, too.”

3 As Tammy and her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) careen out of control on their road trip — and in life — Lenore sets them both straight. She’s a role model.

I think of Lenore as an old lion. It’s taken her many years to create her business, to have a life for herself and [partner] Susanne (Sandra Oh). They met in college and I think they came out when it was very difficult for lesbians to be accepted.

4 Gay-cinema historian Vito Russo would have loved that Lenore is incidentally gay. Her sexuality isn’t the point of the character.

What I love about the way we are portrayed in the film is that Susanne and Lenore are a normal, healthy couple, which says, you can’t legislate who you love.

5 You’re by no means retiring. You couldn’t be much busier.

I can’t believe it. Let’s face it. When [her TV series] Harry’s Law got canceled and right after that I found out I had breast cancer and I had a double mastectomy that summer, I was pretty low. And I felt like I’d been kicked to the curb. And I didn’t know if I would ever work again. And then, a year later, along came Melissa and [ American Horror Story producer] Ryan Murphy. I’m just grateful for all that. A few months ago, I made the choice not to have [breast] reconstruction, because it occurred to me, I don’t want to go back to bed. I don’t want to be on Oxycodone for two months. I’m having too much fun.

— Mike Cidoni Lennox, The Associated Press

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