When it comes to a harsh review she received 50 years ago for her first film, Anjelica Huston has neither forgotten nor forgiven.
Critic John Simon wrote of the actress's debut performance in 1969's A Walk With Love and Death, directed by her father, John Huston: "There is a perfectly blank, supremely inept performance by Huston's daughter Anjelica, who has the face of an exhausted gnu, the voice of an unstrung tennis racket, and a figure of no discernible shape." (A gnu, in case you're wondering, is a type of antelope.)
It was the only review blurb Huston included in her 2014 autobiography A Story Told Lately: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York and provided for umbrage from the 67-year-old in a new no-effs-given interview gone viral that the actress conducted on the press rounds for her latest film, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.
"It sticks with you. And now that you’ve reminded me, it will stick with me for another ten years," Huston explained to Vulture's Andrew Goldman. Told he wouldn't have even brought it up had she not included it in her memoir, Huston retorted: "No, I completely accept that. I think the news there is he’s dead and I’m not."
Simon, however, is still alive. He's 93 now, Goldman informed Huston.
"He’s dead as far as I’m concerned," she shot back.
Huston has a right to be peeved. Read the quote again and you'll notice Simon – considered one of the snider critics of his time – is taking aim almost entirely at her physical appearance, rather than her actual performance.
Despite, yes, some obvious nepotism involved, Huston went on to become one of the most respected actors of her generation, making indelible marks on films like The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Prizzi's Honor (1985), Enemies: A Love Story (1989), The Grifters (1990), The Witches (1990), The Addams Family (1991), Buffalo '66 (1998), and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). She won an Oscar for Prizzi's Honor, one of three times she was nominated.
The interaction about Simon's snub was hardly the only eyebrow raiser in the must-read interview, which was reminiscent of a similarly frank, pull-no-punches conversation with Quincy Jones from early 2018. Among some other topics discussed:
On how Oprah Winfrey never spoke to Huston again after losing the Oscar to Huston: "She never had me on her show, ever. She won’t talk to me. The only encounter I’ve had with Oprah was when I was at a party for the Academy Awards, a private residence. I was talking to Clint Eastwood, and she literally came between us with her back to me. So all of the sudden I was confronted with the back of Oprah’s head. … Nobody else would dislike me so much as to literally, physically come in between the person I was talking with that way. But I admire Oprah. God knows, she’s made some big steps."
On the public’s turn against Woody Allen: “I think that’s after two states investigated him, and neither of them prosecuted him.” [Asked if she’d work with again]: “Yeah, in a second.”
On Jack Nicholson's cocaine use: "Never took overt amounts. He was never a guzzler. I think Jack sort of used it, probably like Freud did, in a rather smart way. Jack always had a bit of a problem with physical lethargy. He was tired, and I think probably, at a certain age, a little bump would cheer him up. Like espresso."
On being arrested at Jack's house when Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl: "Well, see, it’s a story that could’ve happened 10 years before in England or France or Italy or Spain or Portugal, and no one would’ve heard anything about it. And that’s how these guys enjoy their time. It was a whole playboy movement in France when I was a young girl, 15, 16 years old, doing my first collections. You would go to Régine or Castel in Paris, and the older guys would all hit on you. Any club you cared to mention in Europe. It was de rigueur for most of those guys like Roman who had grown up with the European sensibility."
On how nothing's really changed despite the #MeToo movement: "I was at the hairdresser’s yesterday, and I heard tales of such horror from women. There was one other client and two girls who were working in this rather small hairdressing shop. And one of the girls had been passed a Mickey Finn in a bar and had woken up on a couch with a guy ejaculating wildly all over her face. And as she was telling the story, another girl who worked in the salon came in and said, 'The weirdest thing happened to my friend last night. She was found at four in the morning in the Wilshire district, coatless, shoeless, with scratches and bruises all over her body. She doesn’t know whether she was raped. So, I’m trying to stop her from having a bath because we need to get her to the police.'
"Frankly, I think there’s a whole element of guys who will get up to what they want to get up to. I didn’t think Brett Kavanaugh was all that believable. And yet this whole thing continues to be whitewashed and whitewashed and whitewashed. On the other hand, there is a thing called a male imperative, and it is maybe stronger than any #MeToo movement, because it happens at birth. I have a great 3-year-old nephew who made his way over to my umbrella rack the other day and pulled an Irish walking stick out and said, “I am the leader of the universe.” Girls don’t do that."
On strife with Bill Murray: "He was a shit to me on Life Aquatic. The first week I was there, we were all in this little hotel, and he invited the entire cast to go and have dinner, except me. And everyone came down for dinner, a little dog-faced about my not being invited, and they were all like, “Oh, you know, we don’t really want to go.” That was worse than anything. … I think we met again in Florence, because that movie was shot all over Italy, and we were doing a scene at Gore Vidal’s house in Ravello, and he said, “Hey, how’ve you been? I missed you.” I said, “You’re full of shit. You didn’t miss me.” He looked all confused for a moment. He’s been a little nicer to me since. He showed up at my husband’s funeral. He couldn’t have been nicer that day. He showed up. A lot of people didn’t."
She also talked about John Wick 3 a little bit.
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