Queen for a lifetime
She’s been Hollywood royalty for decades, and now she’s earned her wings! Anjelica Huston talks to TARA BRADY
Most of the time, an actor will shuffle their feet or laugh dismissively around the family oriented projects on their CV. The same excuses are dutifully trotted out: “I wanted to make something my kids could watch” or “It was only a day’s work away from my Chekov season on the West End.”
Anjelica Huston is not one of those people. This Christmas marks the Oscar-winner’s third turn as fairy-in-chief Queen Clarion in TinkerBell: Secret of the Wings and she couldn’t be happier.
“I love anything that has to do with kids,” she trills. “Making kids love to hate you or just love you is the best. There’s an immediacy with kids and their reactions. You just connect.”
She’s not bluffing. For more than two decades, Huston has hopscotched between adult themed critical wows – The Grifters, The Golden Bowl, Buffalo ’66, Seraphim Falls, 50/50, Choke – and goofy all-ages projects such as Barbie as Rapunzel, The Addams Family, Daddy Day Care, Material Girls and Horrid Henry.
“I am afraid I do have the market sewn up,” she says. “I have been very lucky. The Witches with Nic Roeg really was a highlight. And I found him as devilishly in thrall to the ‘terrification’ of children as I was. That was such a great movie to make and it instilled that taste for making kids’ movies. Children’s minds are all about darkness. I love that.”
The TinkerBell franchise is, Huston admits, a particular highlight. The cutsey-pie animated characters are, after all, a much nicer class of fairy than the malevolent wee folk she heard about growing up in Ireland: “These ones are less likely to leave you traumatised for life,” she laughs. “The fact that I am still working in Pixie Hollow is very much a reflection of my Irish childhood, I think. I still love being away with the faeries.”
Huston is fiercely proud of her Hibernian heritage. The daughter of director and actor John Huston and Italian- American prima ballerina Enrica ‘Ricki’ Soma spent most of her childhood near Saint Clerans House in Galway. She can even find nice things to say about the Sisters of Mercy – even if they did give her the odd slap when her catechism wasn’t up to scratch.
“I was not very happy in my first years in England when I transferred to school there,” she recalls. “I went to the French Lycée there and it was very different from the nuns, for whom I actually have a deep affection. They were very nice to me. Everyone was. It is always wonderful to go back. Mercifully there are people in the West that I grew up with and adore. That’s where it all began.”
Does contemporary Ireland have anything like the same appeal? Or is her “Ireland” locked wistfully and carefully away?
“I am aware of what happened in the Celtic Tiger years. So many ugly buildings went up and all the housing estates. I am not somebody who likes change all that much. It’s true that my relationship is very much with Ireland as it was. Of course, I understand that for a lot of people life is a lot better. I remember people living on dirt floors with no electricity. It was a hard life. You can’t resent the fact that central heating is a part of Irish life now.”