Mommy Dearest

1.2.2008

By Bill Keith

Out's Entertainer of the Year and all-around MILF Mary-Louise Parker will return to the stage in February for Playwrights Horizons' Dead Man's Cell Phone. Here are exclusive excerpts from her interview with Bill Keith in the December/January issue.

Out: I was watching two different Charlie Rose interviews with you. On the first you said that you were absolutely happy with where you were, and then about four years later you said there was a lot more that you wanted to do.
Mary-Louise Parker: Well, I said I was happy with what I've been given, the opportunities, my career. It's not like I had some ultimate goal. There's no carrot for me. I still feel that way. There's a lot that I want to be able to experience, certainly, but I don't ever want to stop working. There's no goal out there like shaking it for the Oscar or something. I'm an actor -- I want to be doing it when I'm 80.

But you don't have a grand plan?
No, I don't have a big plan. I try to not look at the big picture, actually. That makes me a little bit dizzy. I have to stay with what's good for me.

Why do you think you have a particular resonance with gay audiences?
There's a tradition of being more elastic with sexuality and gender in the theater. I've always felt like one of those people who is a little to the left of the dial. And I never felt like I really fit in until I got to drama school with other kids who were the freaks of their towns, searching for something else because they didn't fit in with the norm. That was me. Then we went to college and got to an arts school with all the guys in the hall, the drag queens were borrowing my shoes, and it was great. I was never intimidated or put-off by someone's sexuality or not threatened by it, and I'm not threatened by playing it. I think at a certain point it seemed kind of hip. People wanted to play a gay woman or this or that. Initially, I think there was still kind of a stigma. I try to operate outside of those kind of stigmas.

Do you think you connect especially well directors and writers like Joe Mantello and Craig Lucas or Mark Brokaw, or is their sexuality so incidental?
There is a rhythm to the humor in some ways. There's an inclination for great beauty. One of my best friends now, she's really young and gay and she came out when was in high school. That just wouldn't happen at my high school. It's just like sometimes like they weren't the homecoming king or the homecoming queen, they were at home reading something interesting or dreaming about something wonderful, you know what I mean?

I do.
You know, the other night I was on a date and we were going somewhere and we're right across the street, we're a little early for dinner. We were right across the street from [New York city gay bar] the Cubby Hole. I was telling my friend this and she went, 'Did he go in there with you?' and I was like 'You can't really not be gay friendly and go out with me. You can't. It's not going to happen.'

You should take every date there at the beginning just to clear that up quickly.
Exactly, let's just all go to the Cubby Hole. I just think everybody's sexuality is a little bit elastic and it's personal. I don't feel like there's a norm. I don't want there to be a norm and if there is a norm, I don't want to be in it.

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