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The Sage, The Crone: Judith Ivey on Her Role in Women Talking | Interviews

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And what was your first professional acting job?

My first one was an Oscar Mayer bologna commercial where I was climbing a cliff with my boyfriend and was terrified and he lowered down an Oscar Mayer baloney sandwich and I cheered right up. And that was the very first paid job I did. And then the first paid theater job was a little more, let’s say, intellectual play called The Sea by Edward Bond at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. 

Was there a movie or a play that you saw when you were young where you said, “That’s it for me. That’s what I am going to do”?

I always thought I was going to be a visual artist. So, even though I was succeeding as an actress I didn’t take it very seriously, and I’m sure a lot of actors would like to punch me in the nose saying that. But I thought, This is kind of a fluke. This isn’t going to be a career for me. I really wanted to be a painter. And then I guess the first time my parents took me to see Carol Channing in Hello Dolly in Chicago, and when she had her dinner scene where she stuffed her mouth full of stuff, I think it ended up that it was cotton or something. You can’t believe how much she puts in her mouth. I thought that was the funniest thing and the most brilliant performance. That kind of hooked me. I thought that was so much fun.

Sarah Polley, of course, began as an actress, when she was a child. What is it that she knows as an actress that helps her be a good writer and director?

She is completely sympathetic to what your job is, and she respects everything from how many people are on the set to how much time you need to get ready to do this moment if this is upsetting for you. She had a psychologist who was there during the shooting in case anybody really just couldn’t go on because of the nature of what we were talking about and how upsetting it was. To the opposite of that, she has fun with it, she gets silly about it. And so, she doesn’t take it so seriously that there’s no perspective. She’s just a performance animal. I guess because she started so young it’s in her bones at this point.

During the pandemic, what did you do to keep yourself happy and occupied?

Well, as I said, I’m a painter so I was painting. I was making quilts. I’m very crafty as my girlfriends call me. And so, I have a constant project going on. I did one too many Zoom performances. At Christmas, I think I was in three different Christmas Carols. I think I played all the ghosts.

“Women Talking” will be available only in theaters on December 23rd.

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