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An Interview with Award Winning Actress Celia Weston

By Maria Esteves – March 12, 2011
Actress in film, television, and theatre Celia Weston (CW) is known as the Southern type character. CW began performing on stage at the age of four in South Carolina. She has performed in numerous on and off Broadway productions including Loose Ends (1979), The Lady from Dubuque (1980), Garden District (1995), and True West (2000). She appeared as cast member of the CBS television sitcom “Alice.” She has starred in countless feature films such as Honky Tonk Freeway (1981), Stars and Bars (1988), Lost Angels (1989), Snow Falling on Cedars (1999), Joe Gould's Secret (2000), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), Far from Heaven (2002), Hulk (2003), The Village (2004), Joshua (2007), After.Life (2010), and many others. In 1997, Celia Weston received the Outer Critics Award for Best Actress in a play “The Last Night of Ballyhoo,” as well as the Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. In 1995, she received the Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actress in "Dead Man Walking." I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Celia Weston at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) Virtual Oscar Interactive Wall in New York, on Tuesday, February 22, 2011.

ME: What inspired you to become an actress?

CW: Well, we do not choose our gifts. When I was four years old, my mother started me in dance school. I liked the life, the costumes, and getting to wear lipstick. I always participated in school plays, shows at home in the garage like “The Little Rascals,” TV show if anybody is old enough to remember.

My first role in a school play “Candy Yam,” was in second grade. It was about nutrition. My costume was strong yams on a string around my neck. My mother didn’t have me try it out before walking on stage. She just slapped it on me. As I was walking on stage, the weight of the yams forced them to drop from the string. I started saying, “I’m yam, I am, I am moist mellow, something yellow.” I got a lot of laughs and I didn’t mind it.

I never really thought of acting as a serious professional pursuit. It wasn’t something that my family thought was acceptable. I kept telling my mother it was all right for me to be an actor. It took a lot of courage to come to New York. I got on that plane at the airport and my luggage popped open. The airline personnel came to shut the luggage with gaffer’s tape. When I got to New York, I moved into the Rehearsal Club with other young women trying to start a career as actors and dancers. I called it the half way house for nice girls. I had a few friends from school living there before coming to New York. That’s how I started, it was full steam ahead.

ME: What was the first performance that pushed to the public consciousness?

CW: My Broadway debut, “Loose Ends” (1979) with Kevin Kline at Circle in the Square Theatre. It was a coming of age story. It really hit a strong note demographic at that time. I was fortunate to get the lovely role of the nurse’s daughter. That’s what put me on the map!

ME: I understand you’re cast in the upcoming film “CRIPPLE,” directed by Michael Uppendahl. Can you briefly describe the film? What role do you play?

CW: “CRIPPLE” is based on a true story about a young man from Detroit, Michigan, who is upwardly mobile in life socially and with his career. Something befalls him very tragically, that is life altering. I play his mother, Lena Olin plays the physical therapist, Tom Berenger plays his father, and Aaron Paul who won this year’s Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama in “Breaking Bad,” plays the lead role. We finished production in December 2010.

ME: It’s Oscar Week 2011! What festivities are scheduled for Academy members and their guests at the Official New York Oscar Night Party?

CW: This year’s official Oscar party for Academy members and guests is at the famous Carlyle Hotel. We’ll start with a cocktail hour at the festive and hip New York landmark Café Carlyle. Then we move upstairs to the beautiful ballroom where we have a five-course meal.

The beautiful appointed room, fashionably design with floral décor combines color and design to include the linen and china for the occasion. We have large monitors set up throughout the room with good viewing for every table with direct feed of the Oscar event from the Kodak Theater without commercials. Academy President Tom Sherak, presents a personalized opening remark to New York Academy members and guests. It makes us feel special. Each guest has the official Oscar program that everyone receives at the Kodak Theater and the official Governors Ball favor at their plate setting. How great is that?

ME: Who is the executive chef at the Carlyle Hotel for this event?

CW: The executive chef is James Sakatos. In the past, the five-course meal was named after the nominated films for best picture. This year, we are not able to name the meals, since we have ten nominees for best picture.
We are starting with the appetizer Medley of Petit Lettuces (poached pear, truffles, roquefort salad). The second course is the Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut (Salify, Fava Bean, Leek Chowder, Beutre Roughe, Osetra Caviar).

The main course is Filet of Beef & Braised Short Ribs (fondant potato, roasted winter vegetable ragout, bordelaise shallot sauce).

Dessert, will be a tasting plate of caramelized pineapple tart tatin, steamed lemon curd, mango and papaya tartare with mint, chocolate opera cake, and pink grapefruit sorbet.

ME: What goals have you yet to accomplish?

CW: Well, if there were an Oscar here at this moment, I would probably touch it, and get close to it. But a girl could dream. I’m lucky to have been in some beautiful films, many which have been Oscar nominated.
I’m proud to have a brush with Oscar! Thank you, Celia.




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