BWW Interview: Veteran Actress MORGAN FAIRCHILD Continues to Cast a Spell in A CINDERELLA CHRISTMAS
Veteran film and TV actress Morgan Fairchild needs no introduction. She has been working for the past 40+ years, always recognizable as the glamorous blonde vixen from such series as Flamingo Road, Paper Dolls and Falcon Crest, as well as the soap Search For Tomorrow. Now about ready to start rehearsals for the Lythgoe Family's Christmas Panto, called A Cinderella Christmas at the Pasadena Playhouse, bowing December 8, Fairchild took time out of her busy schedule to chat with us about the role she is playing and her career. Has she been happy or does she long to change her sexy image?
What role are you playing in the show?
I'm playing Cinderella's wicked stepmother, the one who makes her work so hard!
Sounds like a natural fit. Are you having fun?
I was hoping for the good fairy godmother, but my previous evil characters seem to have guided the casting!!! Wicked, I can do falling off a log, so this should be great fun!!! Hope my singing isn't too embarrassing next to the wonderfully talented young cast.
Have you ever done a panto before or is this the first time?
No, I've never done a panto before, and I'm really looking forward to it!
What do you think of the style? Is it easy or difficult to play?
I haven't started rehearsals yet, so I'm not quite sure how it all goes, but I hear from everyone that it's great fun! And I certainly intend to have more fun than anyone!! I'm sure I'll be quite silly!
So happy to see you recently in a cable movie. You played a bitchy boss. Do you get tired of these roles?
I'm so glad you liked Perfect On Paper, the Hallmark movie you referenced. I've been lucky to work all my life as an actress, so I never turn down a good part. However, it's true! I have played a lot of bad girls. To tell the truth, they are usually the most fun. Although, I'd still love to play a doctor or a paleontologist - that's what I wanted to be when I was growing up...and I still think I'd be good.
What is your ideal role?
A doctor, lawyer, senator. I do have hopes, that as I get older, producers will give me a chance to expand even more. AND I LOVE doing comedy.
Do you have a favorite TV show/film from the past that you appeared in? If so, which one and why this choice?
I have several shows that I particularly loved. Mork and Mindy, because I so loved Robin and loved working with him. I always love being part of anything new and cutting edge, and it certainly was that in 1978. Paper Dolls, because I loved my character, Racine, and her dark humor - and I loved the writing on that one a lot! Friends, because I loved the sexy, funny way they wrote for me, as a woman who was no longer a kid. Always great material and terrific one-liners on that show! Falcon Crest, because it was the first time the adult repercussions of incest were shown in prime time, and because I got to have the fabulous John McMartin play my father. I had adored him in Follies, still my favorite Broadway show, which I saw at least a dozen times. And, of course, the film Pee Wee's Big Adventure. We had such fun on that one!! I think it was Tim Burton's first movie!
I saw you do Crimes of the Heart at the Falcon Theatre a few years back and you were very good. You should do more stage work in LA
I'm so glad you liked me in Crimes of the Heart. Loved that part! Garry Marshall called and asked me to do it for him (he was directing, too) and I couldn't say no, after the breaks he gave me on Happy Days and Mork and Mindy. Beth Henley (the playwright) came to see it, too, and seemed to love it. At least she was kind enough to say she did.
I started in the theater when I was 10, so I grew up in that medium. I always do projects that interest me, like Geniuses (directed by Gerry Gutierrez) at Playwrights Horizons, or a national tour of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (directed by Fritz Holt) - both in the 80s. I did a national tour of The Graduate in '04-'05 that was very well received (#1 touring play of the year) and 2 years ago I did a run of Murder Among Strangers at The New Theatre in Kansas City. Oddly enough, I had opened the first theater those producers had in Kansas City with a tour of Last of the Red Hot Lovers in '72!! And I'm heading back next spring to do Dixie Swim Club at New Theatre.
I still think The Seduction (1982) is one of the sexiest movies and that your work in it was terrific. Any memories of this or feelings about it as you look back?
Thanks so much for the kind words about The Seduction. It was kind of ground-breaking for the time. First time a stalker fan story was done (I was told) and first time the "girl" turned the tables and chased HIM with a shotgun. Although, after chasing him through the whole house with that gun, and missing him numerous times, I told the director that NO ONE could miss him that many times ... with a shotgun. It was getting embarrassing, for a Texan!
As a sexy blonde, do you feel you can never get past that image or are you OK with it? Or would you rather play a good character role like a tough alcoholic mother?
Oh, I would LOVE to play something else, too, but I'm grateful to have had a whole career being the evil vamp. There are certainly worse ways to make a living! I love doing comedy, too, so I've been able to combine the "sexy" part and the "comedy" part to good ends. But it would always be nice to play more varied parts. That's what all actors want. Always looking!!
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Whom do you enjoy watching onscreen? From the old crop of actors? From the newer crop?
I always love anything with Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, etc. I was fortunate enough to work and become friends with Bette Davis, Natalie Wood, Jane Wyman, Roddy McDowell, Vincent Price, Patrick McGoohan, among others. Of the current actors, I admire Tom Hardy, Jeremy Northam, Colin Firth, Julianne Nicholson, Sarah Paulson, Jennifer Ehle, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith (who I got see onstage several times and was blown away back in the '70s-'80s)
Anything you care to add?
I would just like to add that when I was starting out, I was often the youngest one in the cast. I was always so grateful to the stars and pros that took me under their wings and were kind to me. Now that I'm the "older one", I hope to always be the "kind friend" the younger ones remember fondly. Theater has it's own special camaraderie, and it's wonderful to create those new relationships on a new show. I'm really looking forward to that on this one!!
A Cinderella Christmas plays Tuesdays - Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 12:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.; Special matinees -- Friday, December 23 at 3:00 p.m.; Monday, December 26 at 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 28 at 3:00 p.m. and Friday, December 30 at 3:00 p.m.; Wednesday, January 4 at 3:00 p.m. and Thursday, January 5 at 3:00 p.m. (No performances December 25 and January 1.) Online sales and information -- www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org Phone -- 626-356-7529