Queen for a lifetime
Following on from grandfather Walter and father John, actor, writer and sometime director Anjelica may be a third-generation Academy Award winner, but her emergence from under the shadow of such formidable patriarchs – father John, long-time romantic partner Jack Nicholson – was hardly a foregone conclusion. Happily, says the 1996 recipient of the Women in Film Crystal Award, things have changed since her earliest movie appearances in the late-1970s.
“Right now, I am doing Smash, a big series for NBC,” she tells me. “And I am very pleased to say that as many female directors as men were working on Smash. Those gender prejudices are clearing away. Not only in film but also in politics and other spheres. It really is about time. It used to be such a boys’ club. I remember in the old days my dad’s crews were predominantly male. Now you see just about as many women, even down to the grips.”
The Huston clan have always been a formidable bunch, but between Anjelica’s work on Smashed and her nephew Jack’s recurring role on Boardwalk Empire, there really is no escape. Brother Danny, meanwhile, is currently filming the second series of Magic City for the Starz network.
“We are putting ourselves about,” she says. “At least we’re gainfully employed. It’s better than winding up in prison. I am so enjoying my nephew’s success in particular. It’s great to see that transposed onto a younger generation.”
She has, she says, thrown herself into work since the death of sculptor Robert Graham, her husband of 16 years, in 2008.
“You better believe it. My life is now more about finding my centre. It has been a new chapter for me. And I find myself at the centre, trying to negotiate life as a single person. It’s required that I make some adjustments. But I am proud of the work I am doing. It’s all good. We sometimes have to diverge from the things we like the most in these times.”
The things she likes most are riding around on horses and mucking out on her ranch at Three Rivers, California. Mucking out? Can it be that Anjelica Huston, one of the world’s most elegant women, is just a big old tomboy?
“You’ve got me,” she cries. “That’s my secret. I am happiest running around on horses. It’s like Old McDonald’s farm. It’s not as ordered as it should be. I have goats and ponies and all that stuff. It’s a little like it was growing up. But being there is my favourite thing. I do love mucking out. I am happiest when I am in the mud.”
Secret of the Wings is out now