Then he asked ‘And what would they be famous for?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m sure that the local nuns would make lace, and maybe they grow pears and export them.’ And of course we had pears all over the set, and lace clothes all over the set. He couldn’t have been more darling. He was picking up on everything. ‘What do you like?’ I said, ‘I love real flowers, and I love my garden.’ So we had real flowers on the set, and every day fresh ones. It was lovely.
He made Genovia a manifestation of you and your interests.
He picked everybody’s brain. I mean, it wasn’t just me. It was also Anne Hathaway, who was adorable—and it made her career. Very, very talented. I spotted that immediately. She is a natural, really.
When you work with young actors who idolize you, do you have to put them at ease? Or do you ever indulge that mystique?
No, I didn’t indulge in it. I do like to put them at ease. My God, I’m one of the luckiest ladies alive. Think about it. I like to try to share, and I’m not just being Pollyanna-ish about that. I recognize how very, very lucky I’ve been.
You don’t have a reputation for playing characters who are cold or indifferent.
There were a couple of movies where I tried, like [1968’s Gertrude Lawrence biopic] Star. It was a wonderful movie to do, but people didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t a terribly lovable character, and it wasn’t hugely successful at all. Although it’s grown a bit over the years.
Also at that time, movies were changing. Low budget movies were in, and big budget movies were disparaged. God, how that’s changed. Everything comes full circle. But in those days it was, ‘Oh, how could you spend this much on a movie? Let’s do Easy Rider instead.’ That kind of thought was going around. So it came out at probably the wrong time.
Is there another title in your filmography that you think deserves more attention?
A film with Andrei Konchalovsky called Duet For One. I played a lady who was in a wheelchair who had M.S. It was very loosely based on Jacqueline du Pré, the wonderful cellist. It was a very difficult and very depressing film to make, and it disappeared literally overnight at a Christmas release. But it was a very interesting experience. It was with Max Von Sydow and Alan Bates.
For the last decade or so, you’ve done mostly voice acting.
Yes, it sort of started and grew—and it’s wonderful. I don’t have to get hair and makeup anymore. I just go into the studio and do my voiceovers. It’s a whole other kind of moviemaking. You just chuck everything at the wall and they take what they want out of it. So there’s a lot of experimentation. Apart from Despicable Me and Bridgerton, and, umm … [laughs] I’m not going to mention Aquaman, where I play some kind of a sea serpent or something. But what interesting things to get one’s voice into!
Of course now, Minions is just coming out where I play Gru’s mum. I love the Minions. I adore them.
I remember when you first did the narration for Bridgerton, and people were scandalized that Mary Poppins and Maria from Sound of Music was narrating this hot and heavy show. Did it feel scandalous to you?
[Laughs.] It’s delicious, isn’t it?
This interview has been edited to supply context and clarity.
Source by www.vanityfair.com