Tomorrow I fly to New Orleans to film my role as Nancy Reagan in the Lee Daniels film, “The Butler.” Forest Whitaker plays the butler (true story) and Oprah plays his wife. I will have scenes with both of them and with Alan Rickman who plays Ronald Reagan…I’ve gotten used to thinking of him now as Ronnie, which is what Ms Reagan calls him. I’m excited about this. I feel very ready to take her on. I wish it was more than a cameo. I know that she is pleased that I am playing her. I know this because a friend of mine, writer Annette Tapert (who happens to be married to Joe Allen, Richard’s college roommate) was at a party given for her (and Betsy Bloomingdale’s) birthday. I asked Annette to tell Ms Reagan I was honored to be playing her. And, because I have a scene walking down a White House corridor with then Secretary of State, James Baker, I wanted to know what she used to call him (Jim) and would she have linked her arm in his (no). I’m glad that in the brief time I have to play her, the script allows us to see how involved she was in all matters surrounding her husband…almost like a chief of staff. She took a lot of flack for the china she purchased for White House affairs, etc, but she was no fluff piece. Whatever her politics, it seems that Ms Reagan was ultimately concerned about how policy positions would impact Ronnie’s legacy which is why she pushed for the summit with the Russians and wanted more moderates on his staff. Who knew!
Preparing for this role has been going on amidst our moving into a new house. Moving is inevitably stressful, less so for me than for Richard. In the last 38 years, I have moved in a major way 10 times, Richard never! But he’s taken it pretty well. It’s a perfect house for us. A good 3rd Act house, is how I describe it. Instead of the twinkling southern view of all Los Angeles and the ocean, we look out to the west (and a tad north) over hills. It’s a serene view. I’ll send some photos soon—
The move is why it’s been so long since I’ve blogged about what I’m doing. But, I’ll have to admit, it’s also because there is so much going on out there in the political realm that I find utterly shocking and despicable—I haven’t known where to start to express myself and so many others are doing a good job of saying what I would want said — about the “legitimate rape,” the pick of Paul Ryan as VP, the war in Syria, the rise in suicides among U.S. Combat troops and vets. So much. And so many people I knew have died in the last month. Not just Veronique Peck. There’s Frank Pierson who wrote “Cat Ballou” and directed my son in the amazing Showtime film, “Soldier’s Girl” (for which Troy was nominated for as Golden Globe); Phyillis Diller, and more.
Amidst it all, I feel blessed to be healthy, in a new home, working. I’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback for “Newsroom” which makes me very happy. Tonight is the last episode of the season and I’m in it. Hope you’ll watch. It ties everything together the way only Aaron Sorkin can.
I will for sure blog from New Orleans and send pictures. Stay tuned