Tony Winner Cicely Tyson Talks Once-in-a-Lifetime Role in A TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL
In February, Lifetime celebrated Black HISTORY Month with The Trip to Bountiful, featuring two-time Emmy winner, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee, and SAG and Tony winner Cicely Tyson (The Help), Emmy and Grammy nominee Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty), Golden Globe nominee and Grammy winner Blair Underwood (In Treatment) and SAG nominee Keke Palmer (CrazySexyCool).
The Trip to Bountiful was a television adaptation of American playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote's Tony nominated play. Set during the final years of the Jim Crow South, the film follows one woman's quest to reconnect with her past in order to ensure her family's future.
Ms Tyson spoke exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter about her award-winning role, which she shared was one she always wanted to take on.
"In 1985 I was wandering around Hollywood and saw Geraldine [Page]'s name on the marquee. I absolutely adored her, but I had no idea what The Trip to Bountiful was about-I hadn't ever read it, I hadn't seen it on television, I just was not familiar with it-so I just went into the theater to see her," the actress explains. "And I walked out, got in my car, drove right to my agent's office and I said to him, "You get me my Trip to Bountiful and I will retire!" He just laughed. But I made a visit to his office every single month, and every time I was there I said, "Where's my Trip to Bountiful?!" Now, tell me if this is not miraculous: in 2011, I'm sitting in my house; the phone rings; it's my assistant, and she says, "Van is looking for you." Van Ramsey is a costume designer whom I have worked with a number of times. He was looking for me because, he told me, he had a friend who wanted to meet with me and talk about a possible project, so we met. She said to me, "My father had such tremendous respect for you. I want to do one of his plays. I'd love to do it with a black cast. And if you say no to the lead, which is what I want you to play, I won't do it." So I said to her, "Who was your father?" She said, "Horton Foote," and I fell off the chair. [laughs] When I could recover I said, "And the play is what?" She said, "The Trip to Bountiful." Is that something? It was 26 years later!
Tyson also shared her reaction when her agent called her to ask if she would consider reprising her stage performance for the small screen. "I said, "That's impossible." My agent said, "What do you mean?" I said, "I can't do a movie of it. You can do what you want, but I can't do it." He said, "What are you talkin' about?" I said, "I finally got myself to the place-by doing vocal exercises and stuff like that-where I could reach the last seat in the balcony. And now you're asking me to bring all of that back into my navel? Are you kidding me?! That can't happen-it'll never happen!" He said, "Oh, you'll be alright." Well, it wasn't easy for me, because I had to fight to harness what I had on the stage and bring it down for the small screen."
Read the interview in full here
In The Trip to Bountiful, Carrie Watts (Tyson, who was awarded with a Tony for her role in the Broadway revival), begrudgingly lives with her busy, overprotective son, Ludie (Underwood) and pretentious daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae (Williams). No longer able to drive and Forbidden to travel alone, she wishes for freedom from the confines of the house and begs her son to take her on a visit to her hometown of Bountiful. When he refuses, Mrs. Watts is undeterred and makes an escape to the local bus station, where she befriends Thelma (Palmer), a young woman traveling home. When Ludie and Jessie Mae discover she is gone, they call in law enforcement to help, but Mrs. Watts is one step ahead of them and convinces the local sheriff to help her on her journey home to Bountiful.
Produced by Ostar Productions, The Trip to Bountiful is executive produced by Bill Haber (Rizzoli & Isles), Cicely Tyson, HAllie Foote and Jeff Hayes (A Day Late and a Dollar Short).
Returning to Broadway for the first time in over 30 years in this production of The Trip to Bountiful, the legendaryCicely Tyson won every major theatre award of the season - the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. The Trip to Bountiful also starred Emmy Award nominee and recording starVanessa Williams, Tony Award Nominee Tom Wopat, rising star Adepero Oduye, and Leon Addison Brown
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos