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Five Minutes With Candice Bergen On Hollywood, Ageing and #MeToo

Alicia Silverstone, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen pose at the premiere for the movie "Book Club" in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Five Minutes With Candice Bergen On Hollywood, Ageing and #MeToo

Candice Bergen talks about her new film 'Book Club', in which she stars alongside veteran actresses Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen

Five Minutes With Candice Bergen On Hollywood, Ageing and #MeToo

Candice Bergen exudes an understated elegance.  With an acting resume spanning over 50 years, it’s difficult to pinpoint the zenith of her career.  However, it was undoubtedly Bergen’s Golden Globe and Emmy winning role on the CBS sitcom, Murphy Brown, that landed her on the map to stardom.  Alongside other Hollywood heavy hitters such as Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen, Bergen stars in Book Club, a movie about ageing and the ever-changing nature of relationships.

Did you all know each other before you started filming?

We all knew each other slightly. I’d known Jane (Fonda) and Diane (Keaton) for many, many years but not well. Mary (Steenburgen) I knew slightly. Every one of the four of us is highly professional so it wasn’t fooling around on the set because we were very aware of our jobs but loved working with each other. It was pure pleasure.

It’s rare to have a movie with so many lead female characters.

Much less old actresses working with each other, let’s be frank! I don’t know how they got this movie made. The studio didn’t want to go with older actresses, they wanted younger, vibrant actresses but there’s nobody more vibrant than us frankly.

Have you ever been in a book club?

I’ve never been in a book club myself but from what I understand the first priority is drinking wine. And then if you talk about anything coherently it’s like a miracle. But the point of a book club is to discuss the book at hand.

What do you discuss with your friends in real life?

Politics and doctors appointments.

Have you read 50 Shades Of Grey?

When the first one came out I went right for the juicy parts. But when it first came out I didn’t know how to get the book without being recognised and there was some concern. Nobody was comfortable going and buying what was considered a porno novel so someone lent me their copy. And then I was just reading the good parts and someone borrowed it from me and I never got it back. So I did read some of it but I haven’t really read it all.

Not all three of them?

No, one was plenty.

How did the script relate to your own perspective on your life and friends?

What I am impressed with is that it’s really grounded in honesty and women’s friendships. And as far as older women having sex – I think that what the movie encourages is life doesn’t end as soon as we’re programmed to think it does. Value your female friendships because that’s a big foundation for women, and leave yourself open to possibilities. Because what’s the point in narrowing it and putting in an expiration date? Expirations dates are fairly out of mode.

Do you believe that 70 is the new 40?

I believe 70 may be the new 50.

Are you still a photographer?

Well not so much lately. But on Instagram I’m a photographer. I love Instagram.

Along with #metoo and #timeisup, do you think we see a real change for women?

I think it’s already had an impact but a superficial one. And I think now it’s time to start a dialogue and include men in the dialogue. We need to tell them what we expect and there should be a public forum for that.

Do you find freedom in ageing?

I never did much to conceal my age. I know some people and close friends of mine are very protective about keeping their age a secret but I don’t understand why. It’s very out of date. And I think we should just feel privileged to grow older. I don’t see what needs to be concealed. I’m 72. What’s the big deal?

What are the benefits of being a mature woman?

Well I don’t know if it’s true of men and women but as you get older you get much smarter. I’m 100% smarter now than I was when I was 30 or 40.  I feel more vibrant and alert because you’re getting older and you don’t have that much time left. My age now is the best I’ve ever felt – aside from the fact that I have two fake hips.  You just don’t care about the little stuff, and the big stuff, you just don’t care about much frankly.

Do you ever listen to music to help you get into character?

Sometimes I’ve done that and used certain cuts from albums and certain music sort of just to try to get me into the mood. I always have Brazilian music on in my house.

Did ageing and losing your beauty every scare you?

You know my parents were very smart with me and never focused on my looks and I have as a result very little vanity for a woman. I look older and I haven’t had a facelift. I had plastic surgery; I had my eyes done when I was 41. But I haven’t done excessive stuff because I don’t really believe in it. And I think, as you get older you should look older. I’m with a lot of friends who are my age and I look like their grandmother.

Which women had a strong impact in your life?

In 1973, I spent a week in Gombe, Africa with Jane Goodall at her camp. And Jane had published a book then and she was a heroine of mine.  I knew the author Lillian Hellman a little bit. She was very impressive. And frankly, I find Jane Fonda remarkable. She is just so intelligent. She notices everything. She would be a great double agent because she just misses nothing. And she cares about people. We were taking a photograph, the four of us, and she took the iPhone and she retouched it so that everybody looked their best. I thought, thank you.

What a great life you’ve had!

I’ve had. And it’s not over.

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