Monday, October 4, 2004
|Tracy Kornet: Well you may know our
next guest from her role as Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager,
or perhaps you know her from her days as Mary Ryan on the soap opera Ryan's
Hope but now Kate Mulgrew is taking to the stage to play legendary actress
Katharine Hepburn in Tea at Five at the Orpheum Theater here in the Valley.
It is striking, the resemblance, the demeanor, the whole thing. Thank
you for being here.
Kate Mulgrew: It's my pleasure, nice to see you.
Tracy Kornet: It's nice to have you here. Was this a role you've always felt comfortable – you've been thinking about playing?
Kate Mulgrew: No, to the contrary.
Tracy Kornet: Really, why?
Kate Mulgrew: No, no. I found Katharine Hepburn singularly off-putting when I was a young actress.
Tracy Kornet: Oh…
Kate Mulgrew: Probably because comparisons were made and those can be trying because I very much wanted to be an actress in my own right.
Tracy Kornet: Oh…
Kate Mulgrew: It wasn't until Matthew Lombardo wrote this piece - and it's an extraordinarily well written piece – the polarity I think is… is unique and very compelling – young and old – that I began to understand what it is about Hepburn that is, in fact, so compelling, and which will withstand the hands of time. And that is her deep and unquenchable vulnerability, which is the last thing people usually go to when they talk about Katharine Hepburn, but is the first thing that is the pulse, I think, of her essence.
Tracy Kornet: You truly believe you know her.
Kate Mulgrew: Well I… I… I… that's a …
Tracy Kornet: That's a tough… I guess that's kind of a…
Kate Mulgrew: I know her as an actress who has created her…
Tracy Kornet: Uh huh…
Kate Mulgrew: Never having met her, which I think is only to my advantage. But I think that I have fallen in love with her in a way that was very unexpected and has been wonderful to play.
Tracy Kornet: We're just looking at a video from your show and it is amazing. It doesn't even look like you'd have to be in makeup that long. Do you? How long is the prep for this character?
Kate Mulgrew: (laughing) Well – which act?!
Tracy Kornet: Oh! I guess she does change! Yeah, tell us about the show. Tell us what part of her life …
Kate Mulgrew: She does change. She's thirty-one in Act 1…
Tracy Kornet: Okay.
Kate Mulgrew: Having just been labeled 'box office poison', and she's back at the family home in Fenwick. She's very agitated and she's very concerned that this in fact will be the end of her career. So we see her trying to be her gregarious, bombastic sort of strident Yankee self, and underneath is this terrible feeling, I think, of fragility that Hollywood will not accept her – that she will not become the great star that she promised her father she would become. And in Act 2, at seventy-six, having just experienced what was really a treacherous car accident, we see her in a far more reflective stance, and she's self deprecating, she talks about Spencer Tracy, (in the older Hepburn voice) she talks about her brother Tom, she goes deep, deep into her heart…
Tracy Kornet: Wow, your voice is so amazing! To hear you even speak of her like that.
Kate Mulgrew: Yeah. And it's … you know…
Tracy Kornet: And it's so darn dry in here, feel free to get some water, Kate, if you need it.
Kate Mulgrew: It is dry. It's dry.
Tracy Kornet: Kate this is your first time to Arizona, right?
Kate Mulgrew: I think so.
Tracy Kornet: Yeah.
Kate Mulgrew: I think…
Tracy Kornet: Well, you would remember if you're really struggling with the… and she's struggling with the heat, and we all know how lovely it has been the last few days, if you were only here in the summer…
Kate Mulgrew: Ah, but you're all talking about a cold snap and I want to say 'I think you'd better snap out of it!' What's cold?! It's 98 degrees!
Tracy Kornet: Yeah, you do need to drink a lot of water.
Kate Mulgrew: Yes.
Tracy Kornet: So if we need to bring in a tray…
Kate Mulgrew: Okay.
Tracy Kornet: … Just raise your hand and we'll do that for you. You live in New York. I want to know about you personally. Tell us a little bit about…
Kate Mulgrew: What do you want to know?!
Tracy Kornet: Ahhhh…. Now are you…?
Kate Mulgrew: I live in New York but my hus…
Tracy Kornet: Are you as vulnerable as … will you be vulnerable with us for a moment?
Kate Mulgrew: I will be. I will be. I am getting more vulnerable as I get older, I'll tell you that. My marriage has taught me a great deal. I'm married to… I'm married to the most decent man I've ever met.
Tracy Kornet: Well who is he?
Kate Mulgrew: Tim Hagan. He's a politician. And he lives in Cleveland. So I should say that I live both in New York and Cleveland, but I'm really based in New York. And I have a wonderful life. It seems to be getting better and better. At least from the point of view of aging with a little grace. Which my mother was so … worried about.
Tracy Kornet: What do you mean?
Kate Mulgrew: When you're an actress it's easy not to.
Tracy Kornet: Ah…
Kate Mulgrew: And now my mother is dying of Alzheimer's, and my father just died…
Tracy Kornet: Oh boy…
Kate Mulgrew: And my husband just had a heart attack…
Tracy Kornet: Wow…
Kate Mulgrew: So I'm thinking, let me just try to have a little wisdom…
Tracy Kornet: Wow…
Kate Mulgrew: A little grace, and love deeply. And that's it. So vis a vis the Hepburn piece, if I can give it to the audience, I do hope that they can receive it.
Tracy Kornet: These experiences have to have made you a better actress, though.
Kate Mulgrew: I hope so. I …
Tracy Kornet: I just know, I just lost my mom, two… three months ago…
Kate Mulgrew: I'm so sorry…
Tracy Kornet: In fact my little sister, we're not going to embarrass her, but she's out there, she's eighteen, she's here visiting this weekend, and of course we both lost our mom here a couple of months ago, and it is life changing. And I'm so sorry …
Kate Mulgrew: We're not yet… maybe we shouldn't be having this conversation.
Tracy Kornet: No, we should! This is life. Kate, this is life, okay.
Kate Mulgrew: Yes.
Tracy Kornet: And there is no reason that we can't embrace the good and the bad.
Kate Mulgrew: No.
Tracy Kornet: And I mean, how awesome that you're married to a fantastic man…
Kate Mulgrew: Yes.
Tracy Kornet: …You can spend the rest of your life with.
Kate Mulgrew: Yes. Are you?
Tracy Kornet: I am.
Kate Mulgrew: Yes. Good.
Tracy Kornet: I am. But, do you have children?
Kate Mulgrew: I have three children.
Tracy Kornet: Three?
Kate Mulgrew: I have two boys and a girl.
Tracy Kornet: Any actresses or actors in the family?
Kate Mulgrew: I do have an actor. I'm stunned. Because he had nothing but disdain for it. He was dripping with contempt for it. All… all our lives!
Tracy Kornet: He was dripping with contempt! I'm going to use…
Kate Mulgrew: This kid…
Tracy Kornet: … that phrase to death, look out!
Kate Mulgrew: Yeah, he was! And then last year he said to me, "Hang on to your hat, but I'd like to go to professional conservatory and drop out of college."
Tracy Kornet: Oh boy.
Kate Mulgrew: I said, "Well be my guest," but I… I was… and he went to the Circle in the Square for a three month audition program, and he was accepted.
Tracy Kornet: Oh, wow!
Kate Mulgrew: So, that's what he's doing.
Tracy Kornet: That's exciting. All right, well I guess we should mention that Tea at Five is going to be at the Orpheum October 5th through 10th. There's only eight performances, and as you can tell just from this taste here on the set of Sonoran Living, this is going to be a fantastic show everyone. Call the number on your screen for tickets. You can also visit the website – their website and ours, we'll have all of this linked. And Kate, thank you for being here.
Kate Mulgrew: It's been my pleasure, you're lovely to talk to.
Tracy Kornet: Oh, thank you. And we'll be checking out your show. By the way, where are you going next from here? Nowhere near?
Kate Mulgrew: Hartford. And then Boston.
Tracy Kornet: Okay, well, thank you.
Kate Mulgrew: Thank you.