MARSHA MASON

One of America’s most beloved actresses Marsha Mason joins us to reflect on her life in the spotlight, and with her ex-husband, master playwright and literary legend, Neil Simon.

Aired on September 26, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> WE LOST A GREAT TALENT AND NEW YORK TREASURE RECENTLY.

NEIL SIMON BEGAN LIFE RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY ON JULY 4th, 1927.

HE DIED ON AUGUST 26th.

A PROLIFIC PLAYWRIGHT, HE WROTE SCORES OF CLASSIC PLAYS, MOSTLY BROADWAY COMEDIES, INCLUDING 'LOST IN YONKERS' WHICH HE WON THE 1991 PULITZER PRIZE.

AMONG HIS FAMOUS SCREENPLAYS WAS THE 1977 FILM 'THE GOODBYE GIRL' AND 'CHAPTER TWO,' BOTH STARRING MARSHA MASON.

I SPOKE TO MASON, NEIL SIMON'S EX-WIFE.

IN AN INTERVIEW WE RECORDED BEFORE SIMON'S DEATH.

I TALKED TO HER ABOUT HER DEATH IN THE REPERTOIRE COMPANY OUT WEST AND HER NEW ROLES IN A POPULAR TV SERIES, AMONG THEM 'THE MIDDLE' AND 'GRACE AND FRANKIE,' AND HER PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH NEIL SIMON AND HOW IT BEGAN.

WELL, WHAT HAPPENED WAS, I WANTED TO GO BACK TO ACT FOR A SECOND SEASON AND I WAS PLANNING ON IT.

AND MY AGENTS HERE IN NEW YORK, SHE SAID, WELL, YOU BETTER -- WHY DON'T YOU AUDITION FOR THIS NEW NEIL SIMON PLAY, BECAUSE ACTUALLY YOU'LL PLAY FOUR OR FIVE PARTS, BECAUSE THE WHOLE IDEA OF REPERTOIRE IS WHAT GOT ME EXCITED.

SO I WENT AND AUDITIONED.

AND I HAD ACTUALLY SHOT 'CINDERELLA LIBERTY' BUT IT HADN'T COME OUT YET.

SO 'CINDERELLA LIBERTY' CAME OUT, BECAUSE 20th CENTURY FOX PUSHED IT OUT FOR A CHRISTMAS RELEASE.

AND SO I ALWAYS HAD TO GO BACK TO CALLBACK S SO I WENT BACK TO MY AGENT'S OFFICE AFTER I DID THE AUDITION FOR 'THE GOOD DOCTOR,' WHICH WAS NEIL SIMON'S PLAY.

I SAID I THINK IT WAS OKAY, I'LL PROBABLY GET A CALLBACK.

SHE SAID, THEY CALLED AND YOU GOT THE ROLE.

SO I HAD TO WEIGH STAYING IN NEW YORK AND DOING WHAT I HAD ALWAYS COME HERE TO DO, TO GO TO A.C.T., AND I WAS JUST SO TORN AND I HAD A LONG TALK WITH BILL.

HE WAS SO WONDERFUL.

HE SAID NO, NO, YOU MUST GO AND DO IT.

THAT WAS LIKE IN THE SUMMER, AUGUST OR SEPTEMBER.

AND THEN I KIND OF CLEARED OUT MY LIFE AND EVERYTHING, AND I CAME BACK TO NEW YORK AND GOT READY TO GO INTO REHEARSAL.

WE REHEARSED, I GUESS IT WAS AT THE THEATER, I KNOW ALL AROUND THE TABLE, THE FIRST READING.

AND THAT WAS OCTOBER THE 3rd.

AND NEIL AND I WERE MARRIED ON THE 23rd.

BIT OF A WHIRL WIND.

YES, IT WAS.

BUT IT WAS JUST MEANT TO BE.

ABOUT, AGAIN, THESE ARE SOME OF THE MOST WONDERFUL FILMS.

IF PEOPLE OUT THERE HAVEN'T SEEN THEM, THEY SHOULD GO SEE THEM.

YOU THEN END UP LEAVING HOLLYWOOD, STEPPING AWAY FROM ALL OF THIS.

IN THE LATE '80s.

YOU GO TO NEW MEXICO, ORGANIC FORM.

YEAH.

AND MAKING A PRODUCT LINE.

YEAH, YEAH.

I SAW YOU SAY BEFORE THAT, THAT ACTORS SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE DIRECTING.

AND DIRECTORS SHOULD HAVE EXPERIENCE ACTING.

AND YOU'RE DOING MORE AND MORE DIRECTING NOW.

WHAT IS IT THAT IS ATTRACTING, IN THIS PART OF YOUR CAREER, WHAT IS ATTRACTING YOU TO THE NOTION OF DIRECTING NOW?

I THINK IT'S TRYING TO EXPAND ONE'S POTENTIAL.

AND ALSO IT'S VISIONARY.

I DON'T KNOW HOW ELSE TO PUT IT.

I STARTED OUT AT SECOND STAGE.

THEY GAVE ME MY FIRST BREAK.

CAROL ROSSMAN AND ROBIN GOODMAN.

AND THEY WERE WONDERFUL.

AND THAT'S SORT OF -- AND THEN I LEFT IT FOR A LONG TIME, BECAUSE I WAS BUSY RACING CARS AND GROWING HERBS.

BUT THEN I -- WHEN ROBIN TOOK OVER THE BUCKS COUNTY AND EVERYTHING OUT IN PENNSYLVANIA, SHE SAID WHY DON'T YOU, YOU KNOW, COME AND DO SOMETHING.

AND I WAS VERY OF IT, THE COLLABORATION WITH THE SET DESIGNER, LIGHTING DESIGNER, SOUND DESIGNER, WITH THE ACTORS.

AND BECAUSE I SORT OF REALLY DO KNOW EVERYTHING NOW --

YOU'VE BEEN THERE, YOU'VE DONE IT ALL.

I'VE BEEN THERE AND ABSORBED A LOT.

AND I'VE ALSO DONE A LOT.

SO I FEEL CONFIDENT IN TERMS OF WHAT I'M DOING, AND I ALSO FEEL STRANGELY ENOUGH THAT THE 20 YEARS IN NEW MEXICO MEANT LEARNING MANAGEMENT, LEARNING DISCIPLINE, LEARNING BUSINESS, BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR, AND BECOMING A MANAGER OF LATINO MEN, WHICH WAS NOT AN EASY THING.

NO.

IT POSITIONED YOU FOR ALL OF THIS.

YES.

AND IT REALLY DID EXPAND ME AS A PERSON.

WELL, I KNOW I SPEAK FOR ALL OF YOUR FANS, WHICH I AM ONE, THAT WE'RE DELIGHTED WE GOT YOU OFF THE FARM AND HAVE YOU BACK ON THE SCREEN.

THAT'S LOVELY.

IT'S BEEN A REAL DELIGHT TO MEET YOU.

WELL, COME SEPTEMBER 27 TO PROVINCE TOWN, MASSACHUSETTS.

IS THERE A BETTER PLACE AND TIME TO GO TO PROVINCE TOWN, MASSACHUSETTS?

MARSHA, YOU BE WELL.

MARSHA MASON CAN BE SEEN GUEST STARRING ON 'GRACE AND FRANKIE' AND DIRECTIN ING AT THE TENNESS WILLIAMS FESTIVAL IN PROVINCE TOWN, MASSACHUSETTS.

THAT FROM SEPTEMBER 26th TO THE 28th.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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