I n 1973, Barbara Hershey - then known as Barbara Seagull, for reasons that we aons soon - participates in the popular American talk show The Dick Cavett Show and torpedo her career.She was alongside her partner of'then, the actor David Carradine , but when Hershey / Seagull stepped out on stage, she could hear their eight month old baby crying off camera. So she ran away and came back with the little boy, named Free. Unfortunately, Free continued to be concerned. So Hershey / Seagull breastfed her baby live. Cavett was stunned, as were the producers, who cut the s.
"Did you breastfeed the baby earlier or was it my imagination ? "Cavett asked on their return, Free now fed. " I did, "Hershey, then 25, replied without any embarrassment.
" I've seen it many times in my life. I think I've learned to be cool about it now. , but it bothers me a bit. Does it bother you? ”he asks Carradine, who raises his lips.wings evasively. "Well, we've presented the Censor with a unique problem that will keep him awake for days," Cavett concludes.
And not just the Censor. After the show aired, Hershey was widely criticized for breastfeeding on television, and this was seen as final proof of her unreliable hippie madness, even more than her decision to change her name to Seagull after he 'a seagull was killed while making a movie. Cavett was clearly a lot less baffled by this revelation than he was while breastfeeding.
Watching this clip now, I tell Hershey, I don't couldn't help but delighted to see how gloriously badass she was. “Oh, that makes me feel good! She hoots. "I wish I could say I [breastfed on TV] for some political or evil reason, but I was innocent. I knew what my son needed,so I gave it to him. "
Hershey has been playing since the mid-1960s, but his career has been undeniably hampered by public and media skepticism at regard her in the '70s, and the assumption that she was just Carradine's girlfriend. It wasn't until the' 80s, after breaking up with Carradine (and ditching Seagull) that things really took off for her. Doesn't she like the sexism of the 70s, when she was frequently dismissed as a fluffy face?
"I don't hold a grudge at all, because the feedback was honest and my feedback was honest. But when you've been playing for 50 years, you grow up in public a lot, and a lot of things are misinterpreted, so it's hard. I think I was going through what a lot of young people were going through at that time. I just did it in public, ”she said.
Hershey,73 years old, is in Los Angeles, talks to me via video chat, and even at that distance you can still see the same grace and self-control she had in the face of Cavett's disapproval, and when she played the rich Hilary Whitney in the 1988 classic Beaches, and as the mysterious Madame Serena in the 1996 Jane Campion film The Portrait of a Lady , for which Hershey received an Oscar nomination. She has the perfect posture of a former dance teacher which is exactly what she plays in her new movie, The Manor, Jason Blum's latest horror movie Welcome to the Blumhouse series for Amazon.
The movie has a great premise: what if the old people who say people are trying to kill them intheir assisted living center do not suffer from dementia but are telling the truth? Hershey plays Judith, a brave grandmother, who is ignored by her daughter and treated like a naughty toddler by staff at the center. Even her beloved grandson thinks she's losing her mind when she begs him to take her out before she is murdered. The film clearly wants to do for the elderly what Getting Out did it for people of color, showing how abused they are by mainstream society and literalizing their worst fears, and it does it pretty well in the first one. half, but becomes completely mundane in the second (Hershey says the ending is "provocative, and I totally agree "). I ask if part of the appeal of the film was the way it overturns stereotypes about older people.
" Yes. I believe in age but I don 't believe in numbers. I am 73 years old, it 's the truth! she says. I tell her she looks like about half of that which is true but she dismisses the comment. But they must have aged her in the movie because she looks about twice as old, I say. "Uh, I've turned my teeth yellow, and that's the only aging we've done. I think it was the lighting "she said.
Hershey may not believe in age, but unfortunately , others do, and that's what she says, "definitely " harder for an actress to find good roles the older she gets. "There are a few actresses who seem to have them all. and the rest of us are struggling. I hope if the audience likes this movie, it will encourage the filmmakers to see that we are not going to push the audience away because we are older. We can be more interesting because we are pleaseds older. "
Sexism and teasing towards women was of course not limited to the 1970s. Hershey explains how one of his Favorite things about the movie is the close relationship between Judith and her grandson, Josh (Nicholas Alexander). "It's not a relationship between an older person and a younger person, it's a relationship between two people who are crazy about each other, and I love it, "she says. It's hard not to hear a reference here to the attention she has received in a relationship, first with older Carradine in the 1970s, and later with Naveen Andrews of Lost, 21 years younger than her.They were together from 1999 to 2009. Hershey describes herself as a private person, so I ask her how she found light on her love life. "It 's difficult. I accept it, because what else can you do? But I 'm not encouraging him, "she said.
In a scene from the Mansion, some of the residents of the house mock an older woman who has had plastic surgery, and the Hershey's character gently berates them, saying," I understand people's choices. It's impossible not to see this as a nod to the criticism Hershey received in the '80s when it was alleged that she had collagen injected into her lips. Does she have that in the movie?
"Well, what was said about me was really silly. What I did was was for a role, and it was temporary. I didn't do any surgery. I wish I hadn't done it now because I didn't want to attract attention that way and i became the star kid in plastic surgery and it wasn't fair, it wasn't what i was doing or what i had done. Look at my face! I haven't changed it, ”she says.
I tell her that since The Manor is about a protagonist who begins to doubt his own sanity, and is a former dancer, I imagined she was playing 2010 Black Swan visionary Nina (Natalie Portman), in which Hershey played Portman's mother, but now as a grandmother.
"Oh my God ! Nathalie! What an end for this character! Well, in Black Swan, it's not clear whether or not Nina dies in the last scene. I 've always chosen to die there, "Hershey says, finally ending a decade of fan speculation.
Hershey was born and raised raised in Hollywood, the daughter of a second generation Jewish and Presbyterian immigrant from the Midwest. From an early age she wanted to play and I ask her why.
"The truth is repression. I had a repressed childhood. I wasn 't allowed to say whatIt was negative, so I would go out into the back yard and play the wicked witch and there was this liberation and this freedom. I could be anyone and say anything and I was safe and free and happy. Most of the creative people I know have had conflicting childhoods, which I think makes them need to express something. I don't think talent is very scarce, I think the need to express something is, ”she says.
Her brief stopping by Seagull in the 70s wasn't the first time she changed her name: her original last name was Herzstein, but her (Jewish) agent told her it sounded 'too Jewish', so he changed it to Hershey, "which I hated because it reminded me of chocolate, and I thought, oh my gosh, so sweet!" I accepted it, but it wasn 't my choice, "she said.
The name change isRunning in the Family: When his son Free was six, he asked him his name meant. “I told her, 'It means you're free to change your name whenever you want,' she laughs. “It had become a symbol of the 70s and I was embarrassed for him every time he showed up, 'Hi, I'm free.' It's a tough thing to go through. So we got a book of names and he chose Tom. But when he became an adult, he changed it to Free, ”she says affectionately. Free now works as a nurse in Los Angeles.
Hershey has worked with some of the best directors of the '80s, including Martin Scorsese (The Last Temptation of Christ), Barry Levinson (The Natural, Tin Men) and Woody Allen , who offered him the role of Lee in his masterpiece, Hannah and HerSisters, three days after she moved to New York. Hershey is great as a fragile sister who falls into an affair with Elliot (Michael Caine), the husband of her sister Hannah (Mia Farrow). I ask Hershey if it hit her later that Allen somehow predicted her own life in this movie, given that Farrow's partner betrays her with a female relative, as Allen soon would, when he did. sadly cheated on Farrow with his daughter, Soon-Yi Previn (who appears in the film). The polite smile dies on Hershey's lips.
"I never watched the movie this way, I just watched it for him- same. You know, yeah. I don 't really have too many comments on this, "she said cautiously.
I ask her what she thinks of the Allen's defamation during the last decade , with the public and media largely assuming that he assaulted his daughter Dylan, despite being cleared by two investigations in the 1990s.
She sighs, considering his response. “I think it's a shame. I think people should have fair trials and I don't know if he did. People have rushed to all kinds of judgments and it probably says more about them than what happened - no one really knows what happened. I like to give her the benefit of the doubt, but neither do I know what happened, ”she says.
Despite the difficulty to find roles once a female actor dares to go north of her forties, Hershey never stopped working. Still, the movie she's probably best known for today is Beaches, in which she starred alongside Bette Midler. The 80s were the heyday of the movies.ts on women, with Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias and Beaches , and I ask Hershey if she thinks they could be done today. "Hmm. I'm not sure. I like to think so, but they might need another hook ", she said.
Like many films about and for women, Beaches was criticized upon its release. "They called it a 'girl movie ', which really offended me, because a movie with two men is called a movie," Hershey said dryly. "But when we did, I felt it was important because it showed that friendship between women is powerful and important, and over the years people keep coming over and telling me : "I saw it with my best friend and it changed my life ", "I saw it with my mother ... 'The repercussions are so strong and I like it beautifulblow. "
Most pleasant, she and Midler stayed close after the movie and often went out to dinner together when they lived near one of the 'other. double take on us, and it ' s fun. I 'll always love it "she said.
I ask Hershey if she's going to take a little break after The Manor, and she laughs. "I love when people say that to actors, 'Take a break ' ", she said, clearly thinking of the aforementioned role-seeking. I ask her what she does when she 's not scratching. Painting, mainly, she says. "And I'm learning Italian now. I love to learn. I don't close the doors, I open them.