Elizabeth Ashley is a Tony Award winner and Emmy and Golden Globe nominee who has dazzled theatre, film, and television audiences. Her most notable Broadway credits include "August: Osage County," "Dividing the Estate" (also Off-B'way; Drama Desk nominee), "Enchanted April," "The Best Man" (2000 Revival), "Take Her, She's Mine" (Tony and Theatre World Awards), "Barefoot in the Park" (Tony nomination), "The Skin of Our Teeth," "Caesar and Cleopatra," "Legend," "Agnes of God," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (Tony nomination). Elizabeth has starred in such films as "Dragnet," "The Carpetbaggers," "Ship of Fools" (Golden Globe nomination), and "Happiness" (Independent Spirit Award). On TV, she has been featured in the HBO series "Treme," "Evening Shade" (Emmy nomination), "Saturday Night Live" (Host), "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (Regular), "The Rope" (Cable ACE nomination), and "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles." Elizabeth is a founding member/Board of Directors of the American Film Institute and served on the first National Council of the Arts under Presidents Kennedy & Johnson. She is also the author of "Actress: Postcards From the Road."
Now, Elizabeth is back on Broadway in a very special way, reprising her role of "Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge," in Gore Vidal's "The Best Man" on Broadway, a role which she first played in the 2000 revival. Gore Vidal's The Best Man" plays at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in NYC (236 West 45th Street, between Broadway and 8th Ave) through September 9th! Click here for tickets and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I GREW UP POOR AND READ LOTS OF HEMMINGWAY & LONGED TO BE AN ADVENTURESS LIKE THE WOMEN IN HIS BOOKS – IF YOU’RE POOR & NEVER BEEN NORTH OF GEORGIA – RUNNIN AWAY FROM BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA TO NEW YORK CITY & TRYIN TO BECOME AN ACTRESS SEEMED TO BE THE BEST ROAD TO TAKE.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? VANESSA REDGRAVE & SEAN PENN.
3. You starred in the 2000 revival of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man" as "Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge." Now you are playing the same role in the 2012 revival. What initially attracted you to this show and what made you want to star in it again? JAMES EARLE JONES & JOHN LAROQUETTE.
4. What do you identify most with about "Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge"? Do you feel your portrayal of her has changed in these 12 years? If so, how? WHEN I DID IT THE FIRST TIME I DIDN’T HAVE SARAH PALIN & MICHELLE BACHMAN TO INSPIRE ME.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Gore Vidal's "The Best Man?" HOW GROTESQUE , PETTY , CORRUPT & DESTRUCTIVE OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM HAS BECOME SINCE WORLD WAR 2.
6. With the recent passing of Gore Vidal, what legacy does he leave for you? HE WAS THE LAST OF THE GREAT BRILLIANT HERETICS – I BELIEVE HERETICS ARE AS NECESSARY TO CIVILIZATION AS AIR, WATER, FOOD & SHELTER – WITHOUT THOSE WARRIORS WHO STAND AGAINST THE LOATHSOME POLITICALLY CORRECT STATUS QUO IE: CONFORMITY - CULTURES SINK INTO POWER OWNED FEUDALISM – WITHOUT GORE VIDAL & CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS – WHO IS LEFT OF ANY CONSEQUENCE?
WITHOUT GREAT HERETICS WHO DO WE HAVE TO ( AS THE GREAT ARON SORKIN SAID) "SPEAK TRUTH TO STUPID?" I’M COUNTING ON SORKIN.
7. You won a Tony Award for "Take Her, She's Mine" and have been nominated for a Tony Award for "Barefoot in the Park" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" as well as a Golden Globe nomination for "Ship of Fools" and an Emmy nomination for "Evening Shade." What does it mean to you to receive all these accolades? MOST OF THE TIME TROPHIES ARE A REFLECTION OF HOW 'HOT'/ FAMOUS/ETC A PERFORMER IS AT THE TIME – THAT & LUCK AND THAT FEWER PEOPLE VOTED AGAINST YOU THAN VOTED AGAINST OTHER PEOPLE – BUT – AM GRATEFUL I GOT SOME – CAUSE THEY ARE TERRIFIC MARKETING TOOLS AND GIVE AN ACTOR AN EDGE WHEN GETTING HIRED FOR A JOB – BUT I DO NOT THINK THEY HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF THE WORK.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? THAT I MUST ALWAYS TRY HARDER/ DIG DEEPER/RISK MORE AND NEVER NEVER GET COMFORTABLE – TO ALWAYS REMEMBER I’M A SERVANT OF THE WRITER.
9. In addition to acting, you are a founding member and on the Board of Directors for the American Film Institute and served on the first National Council of the Arts under Presidents Kennedy & Johnson. What made you want join these organizations? What do you get from being part of them? I WAS APPOINTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! I GET KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE UNCOMFORTABLE RELTIONSHIP BETWEEN ART & GOVERNMENT.
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? ALWAYS HAVE A PASSPORT WITH YOU & BE PREPARED TO GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY WITHOUT GOING HOME FIRST – YA NEVER KNOW WHEN YA MIGHT HAVTA DISAPPEAR – FAST!!!!
11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? MARLON BRANDO IN "THE WILD ONE."
12. Favorite way to spend your day off? IN BED WITH MY DOG/THE REMOTE CONTROL SO I CAN TRY TO FIND A BOB MITCHEM MOVIE FROM THE 40’S ON TV/GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES/ "HAL"(MY LAPTOP)/& A JAMES LEE BURKE NOVEL ON MY KINDLE.
13. Favorite skin care product? LA MER MOISTURIZER.
14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? TO TURN MYSELF INTO BOB MARLEY AT THE LAST SUNSPLASH HE PLAYED IN JAMAICA.