Q&A with Talia Shire

When Senior Planet  chats with actress Talia Shire, you can’t help ask if her brother, Francis Ford Coppola, has sent care packages of his famous wine…especially since many of us are imbibing a lot more during Coronavirus lockdown. Our Entertainment Correspondent, Gil Pringle, spoke to the 74 year old actress ahead of her latest role.

“Forget the wine!” laughs Shire, an Oscar-nominee for her role as Connie Corleone in her brother’s Godfather movies. “But Francis has been sharing a great reading list with the family – books and poetry.”

When she refers to family, of course she’s talking about the Hollywood dynasty which includes her brothers Francis and August; her niece, director Sofia Coppola and nephew Nicolas Cage; and her own son, Jason Schwartzman. 

Quarantine gone to the…dogs?

Shire’s second husband, producer Jack Schwartzman passed away in 1994 and while she misses the regular physical contact with her three adult sons, she’s kept busy with her three dogs. “They’re driving me nuts but I can’t imagine life right now without them,” she says affectionately of her French Bulldog, Zazalita, white Husky, Luca, and “the little guy”, Chica, an 8 lb. tiny terrier.

“We’re all animal lovers, so my children know I am OK because I’ve got my dogs, she continues. “I need them because I read Shakespeare to my dogs, I sing to them and act with them! I would be lost without them. The dog adoption industry was really born after 9/11. Dogs bring so much healing,” adds Shire, who stays in touch with her family by phone, text and e-mail. “I love receiving videos of my children and grand-kids. We’re all finding those little things on the internet that make us feel happy.”

Although she’s bingeing on old episodes of Columbo and old Michael Powell movies – 1948’s The Red Shoes is her favorite – putting on pandemic weight is the least of her problems. “I’m the baby of the family. My big brothers August and Francis were the great cooks while I was terrible. I’m a vegetarian so I’ve found easy ways to eat healthy.”

What’s new in her career

Famously starring as Sly Stallone’s screen wife Adrian in the Rocky films, she earned an 1976 Oscar nod for her role. “We’ve always stayed in touch,” Shire notes, “Sylvester is a great poet and artist.”

While she prefers to focus more on her sons, producing and nurturing their work, she’s occasionally tempted back in front of the camera, appearing in the Netflix series, “Grace and Frankie,” and now starring in the award-winning independent movie, Working Man (learn more here).

Written and directed by Robert Jury, she plays the wife of a factory worker who continues going to work every day even after the factory closes down. The movie was shot on location in a real factory outside Chicago; it co-stars Peter Gerety and Billy Brown.

“It’s a very important story to tell, especially today,” says the actress.  “People need meaning in their lives through work. Even senior citizens must never be out of work; their job is to share their wisdom. Freud said, ‘To be happy in life, as a human being, you needs a job and you need love’.”

Thoughts on the Pandemic

Living in Los Angeles, close to UCLA Medical Center, she applauds the courageous health workers on the frontlines of Covid 19. “What we all should teach our children is humanity and the value of love. I see that actively demonstrated with medical care. These people have been amazing, great healers. I go out there to reflect and pray. It’s important to appreciate these acts of kindness.”

She hopes a new generation of story-tellers and filmmakers will create art during lockdown.“I guess we’re all in this crazy, spiritual quarantine together. I do believe we will all come out of this very transformed.”   

Her secret to aging with attitude?

“Laughter is a big deal to energize and stay healthy, to embrace the seasons of time. Growing older is wonderful, freeing and an opportunity to share your wisdom with your family and society.”

Working Man is available everywhere on demand May 5th.  Watch the trailer here.

WORKING MAN will be on demand, Apple TV, Prime Video, Xfinity, Google Play, Spectrum, FandangoNow, and Vudu (anywhere you can rent or buy movies). As of now, there is no end date for the digital release.

Photo:  Film Still of Talia Shire in Working Man, photo by Piero Basso, courtesy of Brainstorm Media.

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