CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Actress Lynn Redgrave
Aired May 22, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: tonight, exclusive, Lynn Redgrave. For the first time, the shocking details of the scandalous divorce that set off a tabloid frenzy. She opens up about everything. She's been through it all. A no-holds-barred hour with Lynn Redgrave, exclusive next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Great pleasure to welcome to this edition of LARRY KING LIVE Lynn Redgrave, the acclaimed stage and film actress, two-time Academy Award nominee. She was nominated for a supporting role in "Georgie Girl" and for Best Actress nominee for "Gods and Monsters." She's starring on Broadway in "Talking Heads," which is already a hit.
There's lots to talk about with this wonderful lady. A lot of it is not on the too happy side, like having breast cancer.
LYNN REDGRAVE, ACTRESS: Uh-huh.
KING: And how did you discover it?
REDGRAVE: I discovered it myself just shortly before Christmas and...
KING: You did a self-exam?
REDGRAVE: No. I kind of got uncomfortable in the night, turned over and went, Whoa! What's that?
KING: Felt the lump.
REDGRAVE: Yes, and was flying to LA the next day. I discovered it in New York. And I had a trip planned to LA for a few days. I'd only just recently moved back east and didn't have doctors in New York. So I called my doctor in LA, and went in on the day after, which happened to be Friday, the 13th of December. So it was a...
REDGRAVE: She actually sent me down to have a mammogram. They sent me over to a cancer center, and I was diagnosed and told, yes, that's what it is.
KING: How so they tell you you have cancer? How do they...
REDGRAVE: Oh! It's really hard. I tell you. First, the mammogram doctor says, OK, this looks like this is, you know, a lump. It doesn't look benign. Here's your old mammogram. Here's the thing. Here's the ultrasound. You need a biopsy. And so I went straight to this place in Santa Monica, and the doctor looked at everything and said, You know, we're going to do a needle biopsy right now. We'll have the result in five minutes, but it will confirm what I'm telling you now, and that is, yes, you have a cancerous lump.
And it was scary, you know, because on the morning of December 12, I was a very, very fit woman who, like a great many women, was in denial about my ability to get this. I don't have it in the family. I do all the right things. I don't smoke. I eat well. I eat healthily. I run. I walk. I do all the good stuff. I couldn't...
KING: Why me?
REDGRAVE: ... possibly get cancer. No, no, no. You know, your friends have got it, but oh, it's probably some other reason. It should -- you know, levels of -- levels you're thinking about, what could happen to you.
KING: What treatment options were offered?
REDGRAVE: Either to start chemotherapy and see if it would shrink, because it was too big for a lumpectomy, or to have a mastectomy and then the follow-up treatment of chemo and radiation, which is what I'm doing. And I chose that.
KING: You chose the surgery.
REDGRAVE: I chose the surgery because I had to work. I had to work for my own well-being. I had to be on stage. I had plans to be on stage. At the end of the chemo, I would have to have some sort of surgery, a lumpectomy, or possibly a mastectomy anyway, which would come right -- would mean I couldn't be on stage at the moment. I want to be. The chemo does not stop you working. I'm working right now, and I was -- I had chemo this morning. And I was hooked up for three- and-a-half hours, and I'm sitting here and I feel great.
KING: How about the psychological aspects of the breast?
KING: You know, the breast...
REDGRAVE: That's hard. It's hard. I probably handled it, in a way, a little easier than many women who are not lucky enough to be actors. As an actor...
KING: Faked it?
REDGRAVE: No, no. You know what? As an actor, particularly because I'm -- I would call myself a character actor. I change my look, my physical appearance and my body, my hair color, my whatever all the time for a role. You mentioned Hannah in "Gods and Monsters." You know, that was transforming your body.
So I -- the thought that I would physically be different was -- it's not a thrill, I have to tell you. It's kind of -- it brings you up short. But I was able to look at it right away. I was not, you know -- and some women who can't. And also, I'm 60 years old. I have children. I have grandchildren. I'm not a 30-year-old woman who perhaps -- you know, my youth, my body, my -- we're very hooked up as -- you know, as men and women, on our physical appearance and on -- you know, breasts for women, we know what that is.
KING: What was the surgery like?
REDGRAVE: It was -- Gosh, well, I was in great, great hands. I was only in the hospital two nights. And on the third night, I was, you know, dressed to the nines, having dinner at a great restaurant in New York.
KING: How long before they put a prosthesis in?
REDGRAVE: Well, I haven't had reconstruction and I may not.
KING: You haven't.
REDGRAVE: I may choose not to. I still could. I chose not to at the time.
REDGRAVE: Because again, I -- there's a healing problem. There's a lot of stuff. It takes longer to heal, longer, therefore, before you can start chemo. And I wanted to be on stage. And I also am very nervous about implants. You know, I'm just nervous about all that. So I could still do it. I could think about it. But I needed to adapt to myself.
KING: And what does Sloan-Kettering say about the progress?
KING: ... defeated the breast cancer.
REDGRAVE: Well, right now, technically, I have no breast cancer. I had breast cancer -- on the morning of January 16, I still had breast cancer. On the afternoon of January the 16th, thanks to a brilliant surgeon -- I'm not going to name the doctors right now because I know there's a certain sort of anonymity, but I want to thank them very, very much. They did an incredible job -- surgeon and my oncologist and all the people. So as of mid-day January 16, I technically have no cancer. Right now, I have no cancer.
KING: Who did you tell you had breast cancer?
REDGRAVE: Very, very few people. The first people I told were my very dear friend and agent, Susan Smith (ph), because I was staying the night at her house in LA that night. I then called my brother. I didn't tell my children right away, for a week.
REDGRAVE: My son and daughter-in-law were about to have a new baby, and I didn't want -- I wanted to wait until the baby was born before I told them because I didn't want anything to mar their joy. My daughter in England I knew would perhaps take it the hardest because she was away and couldn't come to me. My younger daughter, Anabelle (ph), who's a senior at Parsons (ph) School of Design -- wonderful photographer -- was having finals that week, and I thought she can't -- none of them can process this. And I really also wanted to have the full-body scans to learn if it was anywhere else -- and it wasn't -- before I told them. So I didn't tell them, until for a week, and then I told them.
KING: There's no husband to tell?
REDGRAVE: There's no husband to tell.
KING: How did the family react?
REDGRAVE: It was hard for all of them, but because I was able to tell them that the scans were OK for the rest of my body, and because I've had a kind of go-ahead positive attitude, I think it helped them take it OK. And I then was able to also tell -- you know, I told my sister. My sister and brother have been fantastically supportive. And it's wonderful that my sister's in New York right now with "Long Day's Journey Into Night," so I'm able to see her on a regular basis.
KING: You and Vanessa...
REDGRAVE: The time when you need your...
KING: ... have always been close?
REDGRAVE: Well, there have been types when we weren't so close, you know, separated by both countries -- you know, I lived on the West Coast for a long time, she lived in England -- and circumstances in life. But the wonderful thing is that in my new life, as I call it, of the last four years, the old "blood is thicker than water" has come through so deeply.
KING: More about that in a minute. Our guest is Lynn Redgrave. What a talent! Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP- "GODS AND MONSTERS")
REDGRAVE: It says here, Good-bye. I find (UNINTELLIGIBLE) such a wonderful life. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) foolish man. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) take care of (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP "TALKING HEADS")
REDGRAVE: People don't like to think you have a proper life. That's what I've decided. Or more of a life than they know about, anyway. And then when they find out, they think it's shocking. That's funny. I never thought I had a life. It was always Bernard that had the life. He's worse this time than he was the last. Eyes used to follow you then. Not now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, if I'm correct, Lynn, your brother, Carne (ph), had prostate cancer, right?
REDGRAVE: Yes, he did. Yes, which...
KING: How's he doing?
REDGRAVE: He's doing absolutely great, I'm glad to say. He had treatment, and he's doing great. He never missed a beat, either, which is why I was very quick to call him because, you know, I was wanting to get right back on stage and was, indeed, on stage three weeks after surgery in "The Exonerated," a show I'm sure you've heard about, that was...
KING: Saw it and loved it.
REDGRAVE: Yes. Incredible.
REDGRAVE: Yes, incredible show to be in.
KING: Anybody's going to New York, see "The Exonerated."
REDGRAVE: Yes. It's about six people on death row who were wrongly accused and then finally released. And amazing piece. And then, of course, "Talking Heads." And my brother, during his treatment, had been at the National Theater in Great Britain doing a Harold Pinter play and also filming during the day "The Forsyte Saga," which I think was recently on one of the American channels. And he said -- you know, it was great because I knew he hadn't skipped a beat, either.
KING: Did the way he handled it help you handle it?
REDGRAVE: Very much so. He said, Will you get tired? Yes, you may. But of course, he had -- he had a somewhat different treatment, but -- and he didn't have surgery. But it's -- you know, being an actor, we're so lucky because -- and that's why I knew -- we call it "doctor theater," even "doctor movie," actually, sometimes, but "doctor theater" is the real thing because at that magic hour, when I'm down at the Minetta Lane (ph) in "Talking Heads," 8:00 o'clock in the evening, I'm not a woman who is, you know, having chemo, going to a hospital, has had breast cancer...
KING: You're that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
REDGRAVE: ... who's doing all that. I'm -- yes. I'm a person -- I'm somebody else, and I have a date to go to. And I've been told that -- by the people at Memorial Sloan-Kettering that, you know, most of their patients work. Most of their patients -- if -- some patients, of course, have to, economically just have to work. Maybe they're a single mother holding down a job. They've got to work. And you can work, thanks to these extraordinary breakthroughs. I've had no nausea. I've had...
KING: Is it a mistake to look...
REDGRAVE: ... fantastic...
KING: ... at people who hear the words "Memorial Sloan- Kettering" or "oncology," say that equals death?
REDGRAVE: I would...
KING: Is that a mistake?
REDGRAVE: I would damn well hope so. You know, they've saved -- they've saved thousands of people's lives. And I would urge all women to have that regular mammogram.
KING: Regular means how often?
REDGRAVE: Well, every year after -- I'm not sure when they suggest...
REDGRAVE: ... 30 or 40 years. I mean, I don't know if -- there's no proof as to whether if I hadn't skipped that year, we would have found anything or not. But the fact is that it's a good thing, and women should do it. And -- and you know, I'm -- here I am, an example of someone who thought I was at such low risk that I bet it couldn't happen to me.
KING: How did it change you?
REDGRAVE: Here's a funny thing. I'll try to sort of explain it and not sound too Pollyannaish about it. But when this happens to you -- and I think other people would identify with this -- suddenly, colors are brighter. You see everything. And I remember the night before surgery, I was in my apartment in New York, and I was lying down and I had music playing, some favorite music, and candles burning. And I looked around, and I saw titles on the bookshelf. I saw -- Oh, I remember that book. I haven't looked that for a long...
When I was outside during the day or when I was on my way to the hospital -- and it was still dark when I was on my way to the hospital the next morning, you know, 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning, whenever -- everything, in a sort of strange way -- I'm really not being Pollyanna and perfect about this -- it is almost -- I can only describe it as a certain weird privilege to know what it feels like to think, Oh, my God. This -- how long have I got? I believe I have lots of time. I have to believe that, that it won't come back, and that that's why I'm in good hands. But I also do live my life by putting nothing off.
A friend calls who I haven't seen in a while, I don't anymore do that, Oh, let's do lunch, if it's a friend I really want to see (UNINTELLIGIBLE) old friends don't go, Oh, she said to me, Let's do lunch, and we didn't make a date. That means she doesn't want to see me. I don't mean that. But if it's possible, I say, What about this week? What about today? What about tomorrow? I don't put it off. I don't put off any time with my grandchildren. I don't put off a thing.
And actually, I was sort of doing that for the year that preceded this, and it makes me wonder. I put it down to, OK, I'm -- you know, I know the prime of a woman's life isn't supposed to be as she heads towards 60, but you know, I think it is. I feel like I'm in my prime. I'm working as hard or harder than I ever have in something I love, in a show I love. I'm also doing constant book readings, movies. You name it, I'm doing it. I'm also scheduling run to the hospital, do the thing, OK, got to do it, that's all we can -- you know, that's OK. Lovely people.
But I'm looking at life, and I'm putting nothing off. And so it's changed me in a way, but I think I maybe had a little pre- knowledge somewhere, something in my body must have -- why did I, when I went to Australia to make "Peter Pan," which I did just before -- for the three months preceding Thanksgiving, I said to myself, Now, was it just because Australia's so far away? I said, You've been to Australia 10 times, but each time you never stayed to see -- to swim in the Barrier Reef or to go to Ururu (ph), known as Ayer's Rock previously. I'd been to Sydney lots of times. I went again. I went to the opera. I put nothing off. All my days off -- and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) get a chunk, maybe a week off, I'm going to do everything right now. And that was before I knew. And I got home, and I discovered. Makes you wonder. Makes you wonder.
REDGRAVE: I wonder.
KING: More with Lynn Redgrave on -- she's starring in "Talking Heads" on Broadway. We'll talk about that in a while, too. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "SPIDER")
REDGRAVE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Waxing (ph) already? Perhaps you'd share your thoughts with me some time. It's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) How much many shirts are you wearing? One, two, three, four! Now, really, is this absolutely necessary?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, well, indeed, it is, Madam. Clothes maketh the man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "THE ANNIHILATION OF FISH")
REDGRAVE: I'm fighting back! please! You don't have to wrestle anymore, so now we can get married!
JAMES EARL JONES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) me foul play. You've done something wrong here today. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're with Lynn Redgrave, and we can't have Lynn Redgrave on and not discuss that crazy thing that happened in your life with your husband and the girl working for you. And she has a daughter. The daughter marries your son. I mean, it was, like, bizarre.
REDGRAVE: Well, it was bizarre and...
KING: It got all the press, so fair to ask.
REDGRAVE: It's absolutely fair to ask, and it's your show. But of course, now that I'm a woman smelling the roses, living my own life, I won't talk to you a lot about it. It's only fair you ask. You're right, it's out there. Let me put it this way. The end of 32 years of marriage and having three children -- my son Ben (ph), Delta pilot, my daughter, Kelly (ph), a teacher, my daughter, Anabelle, a photographer -- the end of that, if you like, was open-heart surgery without an anesthetic.
If one is to believe that life is to be lived in such a way that we learn by past things or we gather strength from experiences that have been hard or tested one, and that you go, OK, you know, if I can get through that, I can now -- I'm stronger -- and it almost made me view breast cancer surgery and treatment as something that I had been prepared for in a way that was far more horrific than this, which, where I'm in good hands, I'm able to carry on. There were times after my marriage ended where, you know, I really felt like I was at the bottom of a mountain, there was a great big, fog up there, and I'm never going to cross to the other side.
KING: How did you deal with the shock of it? I mean, that...
REDGRAVE: I don't know how I dealt with it. I went to a shrink. I know they don't like to be called shrinks. I went to a psychiatrist.
KING: One would think after that many years, you knew your husband.
REDGRAVE: You would. And I didn't, and that's another thing. You know, you...
KING: He was also your manager, right?
REDGRAVE: Yes, he was. Yes. It was very, very hard. I can't say a lot about it because I left it behind.
KING: I understand.
REDGRAVE: I left it behind, and I moved on. And I moved on...
KING: But it's still in your family, isn't it?
REDGRAVE: Well, you mean because we have children?
REDGRAVE: Well, you know, my children are my greatest blessing, and my grandchildren, and my family, my mother, Rachel, who's about to be 93 and is in America right now. So I'm able to see her all the time, and my sister and my brother.
KING: Ever forgive him?
REDGRAVE: Forgiving's a funny thing, isn't it. There's a thing in "King Lear" where King Lear says to Cordelia, the daughter he has most wronged, Forgive and forget. And I think one can forgive, and I don't think one can forget. I'm not sure what stage I've reached about my marriage yet, but I know I'm past it. I no longer -- I feel...
KING: Obviously. It's obvious (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
REDGRAVE: It's over there. But it wasn't. You know, it was, as I say...
KING: How do you feel...
REDGRAVE: ... was climbing a mountain and never thinking you'd come to the top.
KING: Just a few more things on that.
REDGRAVE: Of course.
KING: How do you deal with your daughter, Nicolette (ph)?
REDGRAVE: Oh, she's not my daughter.
KING: Your daughter-in-law.
REDGRAVE: She's not my daughter-in-law. No, my...
REDGRAVE: No. No.
KING: They didn't marry?
REDGRAVE: They married and they divorced.
KING: Oh, they divorced.
REDGRAVE: Yes. No, I never...
KING: During that period, that had to be rough for you, the period when they were married.
REDGRAVE: Well, I was -- I was in lack of knowledge land and...
KING: Oh, you didn't know.
REDGRAVE: ... so that was -- that was...
KING: You didn't -- this was all...
REDGRAVE: This was...
KING: ... post-fact.
REDGRAVE: Yes, it was all after. And my son...
KING: You are a survivor.
REDGRAVE: My son was remarried by then, to my wonderful daughter-in-law, Neva (ph).
KING: And there were no children with Nicolette, then.
KING: You are a survivor.
REDGRAVE: I think -- I think I've always been kind of -- I used to think of myself as a piece of rubber when I was a kid because I was kind of very shy and very -- very emotional about things, but I kind of would bounce back. You know, things would hit me, I'd fall to the floor, I'd weep, I'd cry, I'd get upset, and I'd kind of come bouncing back. And maybe that's being the third child, although my entire family are very resilient -- very, very resilient. I don't know whether it's because we come from this small, eroding island that fits -- you know, fits once-and-a-half into the size of Texas, but it's maybe a bit of the British spirit or maybe thanks to both our parents, Michael, my late father, and my mother, Rachel Kempson (ph). And if (UNINTELLIGIBLE) survivor, my goodness, my mother, Rachel Kempson, is a survivor. So she -- she instilled that in myself and Vanessa and Carne.
KING: What did you do, Lynn, with your anger? What do you do with anger? Had to be angry?
REDGRAVE: Yes. It eats you up. It eats you up. And you have to -- I had a lot of help. I had a lot of therapy. And I was able to -- because it was hard, you know, to -- you can't just lay it on friends and children. You can't always unload to them because it's not -- because they're going through their own very difficult times, too. And so I was very grateful that I didn't do the British stiff upper lip, but I went straight to a therapist. And she was wonderful and helpful, and I went for about two years.
KING: This loyalty is such an important thing in people's lives.
KING: And disloyalty is betrayal, is the worst.
REDGRAVE: Betrayal is the worst. And I think you -- if you can have support -- and of course, I had work. You know, "Gods and Monsters" had just come out, so I was working. I was doing movies. I was doing plays. I was -- and that saved me. I was -- while -- the worst moments of being down, the bottom of the bad mountain, I was working with James Earl Jones on a little film called "The Annihilation of Fish," where the two of us played these most unlikely, completely crazy lovers. And he is a wonderful, wonderful man.
KING: He is.
REDGRAVE: What a man! What an actor, an icon of American actors. And this little film directed by...
KING: You had an outlet.
REDGRAVE: I'd go every morning. And sometimes getting up in the morning -- Thank goodness I'm going to work, and I'm going to see Jimmy and I'm going to see Charles Burnett, the director, and Margot Kidder, who was also in it, was wonderful. And I'm going to see those lovely people in makeup and hair and costumes. And I would walk in. And there were times I would sit in makeup and I would sob. And then they'd say, We're ready. And it's a low-budget film. You know, no messing about. Get out there. And I could turn into this character, and it was my absolute salvation. I went straight from that to another one, and straight on. And I worked solidly all through that.
KING: You never -- you may have been depressed, but you didn't go into a depression to cause you...
REDGRAVE: I didn't go into a depression where I stopped. No. I had what I called my days of grief, and they got further and further apart. They have -- they do still hit me occasionally, and it's an overwhelming grief for what -- even though my life is so good now, even including going through treatment for cancer, my life is incredible. And yet, I suppose you mourn the loss or the death of what you thought your life was, even if you find your life is better after. You mourn the future that you thought you'd planned.
And to begin with, the beginning, I mean, It's now been four years -- the first while, those days would hit me when I couldn't think. You know, Does -- Am I doing the washing up, or am I getting my skirt -- you know, that total panic of, I don't know. Do I need a pen, when I woke up. I mean, stupid things. You know, have I got the door keys, crying because I can't find the door keys, which are in my hand. That sort of thing. And they spread out until the days of grief hit you further and further apart. And they still occasionally hit. Perhaps a piece of music, the sound of a bird, they hit. But now I know I come through them, and it will pass.
KING: We'll be right back with Lynn Redgrave, starring on Broadway in "Talking Heads." What a woman! Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REDGRAVE: Allow me, he said, to shake hands with your feet. I've been going to Mr. Sudwick (ph) for years. I think it's an investment, particularly if you're like me, and you go in for slim- fitting court shoes -- squeeze, squeeze! And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reads me the riot act, of course. But as he said, It's a free country, Miss Potter (ph). If you want to open the door to a lifetime of hard skin, I can't stop you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Lynn Redgrave.
After betrayal, how do you trust anyone?
REDGRAVE: Well, that's a good question. When I -- you're good at this. You should take this up.
KING: What am I going to do when I grow up?
When I first -- when it first happened, I would look at friends who had been married long time or meet somebody new, you know, and they'd say, And this is my husband or this is my wife, whatever and I would have this funny feeling of Oh, my goodness, you don't know that you know, it -- I sort of looked on marriage for a little bit a partnership as something that down the line it's going to fail. I couldn't help it. And I would feel so bad. I would see people very joyful and I would think, Oh, they don't know, maybe they're human and this will happen.
I kind of got over that. But I'll tell you one thing. I don't want to marry again. I did that.
KING: You want to be in love again?
REDGRAVE: You bet. You bet.
KING: You're looking for love?
REDGRAVE: I find love from time to time.
KING: You do?
REDGRAVE: Yes. Yes.
KING: But not marriage. Why?
REDGRAVE: I don't want marriage. You know why? Because I did that. I did it for 32 years. That was what I did. I was a very, very young woman when I married. I was 24 and I just had my 60th birthday.
I now -- I call the shots in my own life. I do something because I want it. In my house, that coffee cup goes there because I decide that's where it's going. When my children need something, my grandchildren, I don't have to -- I don't ask anybody's permission to do anything. It's a place that I was when I was a very young actress and I got married and I was happy to share my life.
I -- you know -- Oh, yes and you want to take care of that aspect and I'll take care of this. But you know some thing? Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, tore it up, burned it and now I'm here saying, I'll call the shots. I don't want to have to say, Honey, you know, could you turn off the sports channel because I'm not a big sports fan, and I don't love the television being on just for the sake of turning on. I'd like turning on for some thing specific. Turn on for you. Turn on for a lot of things. But now -- I don't want it playing. I don't want to have to deal with, Does somebody else feel like that. Are they on a different schedule from me?
KING: How did the children dealt with all this?
REDGRAVE: They've been wonderful. I think it was a little easier for -- in some ways for my son and daughter, both of whom are married and have children. So they're older. So Ben is married to Nivea (ph) and they have children and Kelly is married to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and have children.
And Anabelle would was still -- you know, she was still just in high school when this happened. It was incredibly hard for her. She lived in her house her whole life since she was one day old and suddenly her life had changed and she and I have -- we were always close. I'm close with all my kids. But we've been closer and closer. She's been incredibly supportive during my treatment, for example, and come with me to just about every thing.
KING: How did you deal with all of the tabloids?
REDGRAVE: It's rough. It's rough. Tabloids...
KING: Especially in Great Britain, right?
REDGRAVE: Great Britain -- oh, they're dreadful, Larry. You know that.
They're -- I mean, at least here, the tabloids -- you know, they're in a section. They're brightly colored. They're sitting there in the supermarket or whatever, and you know those are the tabloids. But in Britain it's harder to distinguish. There's more of them and they pass for the popular press and occasionally for the press that is supposed to be the thinking -- thinking man's press.
It's every body. They'll stake out your house, they'll do -- I mean, they are -- they're just unscrupulous and they get -- I got outed by "The National Enquirer" about my -- my breast cancer. It was probably inevitable that some body would find out and of course, the very next thing I heard, because the British press are onto it, was that -- the next people who got wind of it was the British press. Suddenly my agent in England is besieged with calls. We just know that this is coming out on so and so. It's rough. KING: How do you think the public reacts to tabloids?
REDGRAVE: Well, I think here it's a little easier because they see it and they believe it, but they don't believe it because, as I say, they're brightly colored. Those things are garish-looking. In Britain it's sort of harder. It's tough, you know? They'll put people on planes next to you with a secret microphone and a tape recorder in sweater.
KING: They do?
REDGRAVE: Yes. Yes. They did that to me and my daughter.
KING: You grew up in a different household, did you not? I mean, Sir Michael Redgrave was not a walk in the park, was he?
REDGRAVE: Well, I guess it was -- no, he really wasn't except when he did walk in the park and then he was fun.
KING: What was it like?
REDGRAVE: It was....
KING: Was it just you or Vanessa or...
REDGRAVE: Me and Vanessa and Corin...
KING: And Corin.
REDGRAVE: Of course. Yes.
And you know, my dad was --was this big star already by the time I was born because he'd already made "The Lady Vanishes" and films like that.
It was a little tiptoey around the egg shells, you know, with him. IT was -- as you say, not easy. Our mom, Rachel, was a very loving mom and then we had a wonderful nanny and we lived in a place down by the River Thames.
And -- you know, but these were people whose job it was just, just like mine in my house, to go out, to work and to go in the theater. And I suppose it was a different life to some people.
KING: Was he a good father?
REDGRAVE: He was -- it wasn't really, but it wasn't that he was bad. He was -- it was what I sort of call a little bit of benign neglect, you know? He was so into his own life, both his artistic life and kind of his thing that he was not -- you know, I wrote a whole play about him and me called "Shakespeare for my Father" that I performed on Broadway for about my nine months and performed every where for -- performed here in Washington at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I went on needing for a long time after his death to make a connection with him because I didn't feel had had this connection. And as we know, the relationship with a father does not end with death. If there are issues still, the issues remain and the wonderful thing is that in a sort of a way in "Shakespeare For my Father," where I played him sometimes -- I mean, I would transform back into him to me to the Shakespearian characters to my growing up to every thing. I felt I spent more time with the spirit of my father than I'd ever spent in real life.
And by the end of the four years of doing it, my feelings toward him are wonderful. They're strong and wonderful. Before I go on stage at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) every night in "Talking Heads", I look up and my dad is there and he smiles at me and that is magic.
KING: We'll be right back with Lynn Redgrave on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GEORGY GIRL")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll smack it anyway.
REDGRAVE: No, she's right, Jasper. Unlike the back of a bus, my face is too fat, my hair is like glass and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, shut up. You're not. Look, she's just jealous of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why the hell did I marry you?
REDGRAVE: Oh, just please go away.
Why did you marry me? Oh!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Lynn Redgrave. How did Vanessa get along with her father?
REDGRAVE: Well, she acted with him several times and she loved that and I think found it a little awe-inspiring, you know? He was such a great, great actor, an incredible actor. You couldn't see...
REDGRAVE: All the time. All the time in several, you know, each show go again and again. Most particularly, of course his -- one of his greatest performances "Uncle Vanya" opposite Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Rosemary Harris. An incredible, incredible life- changing experience.
But what an actor. And his films live on, of course. There are films that still play them on television, of course, or are rentable. You know his performance as a ventriloquist in "Dead of Night" still is like -- all actors should see that. All actors.
KING: How old was he anyway?
REDGRAVE: He wasn't terribly old. He had Parkinson's disease for about, I'd say diagnosed for about 11 of the last years of his life. And treatment was not as good as it is now, of course. We're still going along and he died in '85 and he was 77.
KING: Have you always been an activist?
REDGRAVE: Think I sort of have, yes. You know I get sort of riled up if I see something that I think is just sort of blatantly wrong, then I'll stand up.
I did become American citizen in order to vote. I lived in this country for a very long time and I finally reached the point where I thought, I'm often sticking my neck out on various issues as all human beings have a right to do.
But I don't want anybody to say have the right to say well if you bloody Brits don't like it go home. And they have the right to say that if you haven't become a citizen. So I thought dammit, I need to vote. So I actually became a citizen in the end of '97.
KING: What do you make of this criticism of the Hollywood types who do speak out?
REDGRAVE: Well, you know, I don't get this. I don't because I say you didn't check citizenship at the door because you became an actor. The criticism is well you have a forum and you think you can press out your feelings (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You bet.
If you ran a huge supermarket chain and you had access to come on Larry King and you were activist and had thoughts about politics, you'd have a right as a citizen to tell you about those things or on any other show. And we wouldn't go, what's the man who runs a supermarket doing telling us about this? Where's he the expert?
Yes, he's as much expert as anybody else, and actors didn't check their brains out. They didn't check their citizenship at the door.
KING: Why do you think it upsets so many people?
REDGRAVE: I think there's an old-fashioned feeling stemming from what, I don't know, that actors don't have real brains. I mean where do they get off? You know? I just think -- isn't that America?
KING: Don't you think a good actor has to be quite intelligent?
REDGRAVE: I would think so, too. That's exactly what I would think. And I think, isn't that what America's about? Isn't that why I became a citizen so I could vote? Doesn't having a vote mean a voice?
KING: Vanessa feels the same way?
REDGRAVE: Well, Vanessa isn't an American citizen. But, yes, I mean she...
REDGRAVE: She's always spoken out. You don't have to like what somebody says. You can hear it and say OK, I disagree. Have a good...
KING: Was your father an activist?
REDGRAVE: I think in his early days, very early days. He certainly was, yes. That diminished with time. I don't -- I never knew quite why. I mean I think in spirit he was still, but he just didn't get out there and...
KING: Did he get upset at the Redgrave sisters?
REDGRAVE: You mean probably Vanessa and Corin.
No, I think he was always a person -- in fact, I can recall him saying how great to have strong feelings something. Everybody doesn't have to agree. Nobody is ever in this world, we can see that, going to agree on so many things. But at least know how you personally feel about something. And if you want, speak your mind.
KING: Marlon Brando taught a course about acting. It's going to be available soon, and he called it "Lying For a Living." Is that true?
REDGRAVE: No. I don't think so. I mean God forbid I should criticize the great -- brilliant, brilliant. But that's sort of like the George Burns...
KING: Don't you lie for a living?
KING: You're not Mrs. Phillips. And your not...
REDGRAVE: No. No. Miss Fozzard in "Talking Heads." No, it's not lying. In fact, lying as an actor is absolutely -- you see it. You can see it. You can't tell a lie.
KING: What is it if it's not lying since you're not that...
REDGRAVE: Transformation. It's transforming yourself for -- so that an audience can connect, hear something, maybe just on a very basic level. Take them out of themselves, maybe let's pretend it's a fluffy sort of a piece. A fun thing. At least take them out of their life and give them relief for a while. If it's something that's more serious that will involve their emotion -- many emotions more than just laughter, though laughter is a great healer. You're not lying. (CROSSTALK)
REDGRAVE: No. I'm not criticizing Brando, who I thought was a superb actor. Everybody approaches him in every way.
But no. It's not lying and it's not pretending. Yet at its best, at its lower level, it's just that. And that's what weeds out the greats from the non- greats. You see it, you see it on television. You see lying every day.
And that's not saying everything television is bad, there's some great stuff. But there's some stuff which is pretty pedestrian and basically you know that they are not -- it's just pretending.
Great acting is not pretending. Great acting involves something that is beyond that.
KING: Is stage very different from film?
REDGRAVE: Stage is different. It's more different in its technique, not in -- not the source it comes from. On film with the camera here I can think a thought and my skin will change color. The audience can't see that in the theater. So maybe that thought has to be turned into a bit of body language that can be seen from 2,000 seats back.
KING: We'll get a break and be back with our remaining moments with Lynn Redgrave, currently starring on Broadway in "Talking Heads." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP -- "SHINE")
GEOFFREY RUSH, ACTOR: Will you marry me?
REDGRAVE: Well, you're very practical, David.
RUSH: I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) enough. Of course, not, of course, not. Then neither am I, Gillian, neither am I. I'm not practical at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You missed the plane.
REDGRAVE: That's sweet of you, David. I don't know what to say.
RUSH: The stars, Gillian, darling. Then ask the stars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDGRAVE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what's he got to do with it? He said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and what not. It's obviously eh, eh. I said eh, what? He said eh, thing. I said pass around the word Bernard. Eh, what? He said skirt it yourself you stupid, two-horns, four-legs place where to get milk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Lynn Redgrave. I've been saying on Broadway. It's off Broadway.
REDGRAVE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a beautiful little (UNINTELLIGIBLE) theater. It's down just near West 3rd Street and 6th Avenue. And we opened -- we just opened and the reviews have been fantastic and we're packing them in.
KING: Do you still give it your all whether it's off Broadway or B movie or...
REDGRAVE: Yes. Yes.
KING: ... Cleopatra.
REDGRAVE: It's the same. It's harder when the writing isn't so good. This is by Allen Bennett who wrote, "The Madness of King George" and what words they are. Six solo plays on two different evenings. I'm in Program B for anybody watching.
KING: Nothing like saying great words, right?
REDGRAVE: Incredible. Allen Bennett is a genius. He began with "Beyond the Fringe," all those years ago. Peter Cook, (ph) Dudley Moore (ph), Thompson Miller (ph) and Allen Bennett. And the writing of the six little plays in "Talking Heads" and mine is "Miss Foster Finds Her Feet." Our solo plays are linked by him. He writes about people from the part of the world that he's from most of the characters are from the part of the world which is leads in the northern part of England. And he takes small lives that seem so small and simple. And as each onion skin layer comes off, you discover more and more, that they're hilariously funny and deeply moving and just -- it's a privilege to be in that great stuff. We ought to give it your all. Yes, I give it my all if it's a script that isn't working so well, it's just harder to do that.
KING: Are you still involved with Weight Watchers.
REDGRAVE: I'm not. No. But gosh I had a good time with them. They saved my life.
KING: How long?
REDGRAVE: It was about years. They really did because I was very -- a very, very uneven eater. I was very compulsive eater, yo-yo and all that. And I just -- they got me on the straight and narrow.
KING: Were you very heavy.
REDGRAVE: I never got as heavy as I thought I did. I certain had a -- when I look at the photos when I thought I was huge, I wasn't huge, but I had a problem.
KING: You were fat to yourself.
REDGRAVE: I was fat to myself.
KING: What did Weight Watchers do? What was the secret?
REDGRAVE: It's sensible eating. It's we know it's good. it's real good stuff. But it actually helped me being the spokesperson because I'd get all these letters and people stopped me in the street and say I lost 150 pounds because of you. If that isn't motivation to stay on the straight and narrow because you think my goodness, somebody looked up to me, I didn't have the problem they had. I can't imagine losing 150 pounds. The bravery that some people had to go through. So that actually did spur me. And people would write me such wonderful letters. And I would think I'm going to stick with this. And by the time I'd stuck along with it. It had become a way of life to eat sensibly, to know when I was full. I never knew when I was full for a longest time.
KING: Any parts you want to do?
REDGRAVE: So many parts I'd like to do. Some of them I'm too old for. I played Cleopatra on television many years ago. I would love to play Cleopatra on the stage again. I've never done Cleopatra on the stage and I would love to do that.
KING: Was there part when you were very young that you would have loved.
REDGRAVE: One I would have loved. When I was very young I wouldn't have got because there whole set a side issue of how tall I was and that's of course, with Juliette. I would never have been cast a Juliette. Too tall, just way too tall. And nowadays you probable could swing that. Why not, I know plenty of 14-year-olds who are as tall as me. So -- but you know what, I guess I blew it. But, in Shakespeare with my father, I was Juliette from time to time.
KING: Is Shakespeare easier or harder to do?
REDGRAVE: It's a great test. I think if you can do Shakespeare, you can probably do anything which is why I often teach a Shakespeare class.
KING: Why is that true?
REDGRAVE: Because it demands so much of you, both physically, mentally, vocally, emotionally that if you can make it -- not lose the poetry and yet make it speech, make it as if it was just written. You know when you hear a great actor do Shakespeare who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm very familiar with Shakespeare. When somebody I never heard that line in that speech before. I've seen this play a hundred times, but yet, my God, I never knew that was there, because they make it so fresh. So if you can help an actor circumvent this whole thing, and certainly drop any bug bear they have sitting on their shoulder about I can't do Shakespeare, I can't do Shakespeare. If you free them up to do it, and that's sort of what I do when I do my classes, then I think they can do anything.
KING: Lynn Redgrave, you can do everything. Thank you so much.
REDGRAVE: Thank you very much, Larry. Nice to be with you.
KING: Lynn Redgrave, what an honor. She stars off Broadway at a Medallion Theater in "Talking Heads" in play B of...
REDGRAVE: Program B by Allen Bennett we should add..
KING: Program B by Allen Bennett. "Talking Heads".
We thank Lynn Redgrave. We thank you for joining us. We'll be back in a minute. Don't go away.
Thanks for joining us for tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. What a great pleasure to have Lynn Redgrave with us. She stars off Broadway at the Medallion Theater in "Talking Heads." If you in Gotham or heading that way, certainly trying to get in, Play B.
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