Read an Excerpt: 'Cloris'

Polly Platt, Peter's then-wife, contributed greatly to the success of the picture. As the production designer, she was meticulous in the selection of wardrobe elements. From what she presented, I chose my coat, my hat, my bra, and my little white panties, and I feel strongly that these things were mine, Ruth Popper's. Polly's wardrobe helped me to know exactly who I was.

During the filming, Ellen, Eileen, and I became involved with the people we met in the restaurant in town called the Golden Rooster. We'd eat there almost every night and hear their real life stories. One day the owner of the restaurant began ranting that her lover had left her. She was married, and we thought she was upset because her husband had gone away, but that wasn't the case at all. It was her lover whom she was publicly moaning for. That sort of story was going on all around us in that little town. It was fascinating because we were actually portraying those people. Larry McMurtry had written his novel, The Last Picture Show, about the very people we were talking to.

Peter Bogdanovich was a different kind of director. I wasn't used to the way he directed. He'd come over and say some of my lines quietly in my ear. Good directors don't give actors line readings, but I realized as we went along Peter didn't mean to be giving me line readings. He wanted to suggest the quality of the scene. Bogdanovich was good. He knew what he was doing, and he knew what he wanted.

When we shot my major scene, the long one that, in my opinion, earned me the Oscar, Peter printed the first take. I wanted to shoot it again; I thought I could do at least the first part better. Peter said, "No, you're going to get the Academy Award for that scene." I thought, Yeah, sure. I didn't know I'd done it that well. Acting is so subjective. Sometimes you think you were splendid, and you get lukewarm reactions; sometimes you're almost rueful at what you did, and people tell you how brilliant you were. Anyway, I didn't think I'd done that scene as well as I could have.

I replayed the scene while I was in bed this morning, and I believe I did it better. Particularly, I did the early part better, where I say to Timothy, who's just arrived at my house, "I wouldn't have been in my bathrobe. I would have been dressed hours ago."

The night I won the Academy Award was one extended thrill. I couldn't have imagined that after accepting it, I wouldn't work for a full year. I don't know why that happened, whether it was because, as some have suggested, producers thought I'd be too expensive, or because I didn't have a manager at the time, or whether it was the "Oscar curse." A story comes to mind about the "Oscar curse." Many years ago, after winning the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as O-Lan in The Good Earth, after enjoying the applause and the standing ovation, Luise Rainer didn't work again for months. It was okay with me that I wasn't working. I would've been happy either way.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...