Olivia d’Abo: “#MeToo has changed Hollywood, and the revolution must be loud and unpleasant” [TALKING]

interviewed Marta Górna | 20-08-2018
Original source: http://cojestgrane24.wyborcza.pl/cjg24/1,13,23725142,0,olivia-d-abo.html

Please note: This article has been translated from its original version to English. Accuracy of that translation or semantics shown may not produce accurate results.

– #MeToo has meant that actresses at a certain age can play. It’s exciting. And between them a sister bond was formed – says Olivia d’Abo, an actress known from “Conan the Destroyer” and the TV series “Wonderful years”.

Olivia d’Abo played in “Bolero” when she was 14 years old. She got the role by accident – she was spotted by a talent hunter on the beach. But her entire career is hardly called accidental. Just after “Bolero” appeared in “The Destroyer’s Convent” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both of these roles brought her in 1984 a Golden Raspberry for the worst actress of the year. This, however, did not discourage her.

So she played Karen Arnold in “Wonderful years”, also popular with us, Betty Jo in “Świat Wayne’a 2”, Molly in “Sknerus”, in which she shared the screen with Kirk Douglas and Michael J. Fox and in over 50 other films, of which the newest, “The Wrong Song”, just had its European premiere.

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Viewers were remembered thanks to the role of Karen Wallace, who was spoiled to the bone in the eagerly watched series “Law and order: a criminal intention”. She also asked for a voice, among others Jane from the animated Disney series about “Tarzanie”, Sonia Blade from “Mortal Kombat” and Black Widow in “The Ultimate Avengers”.

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But d’Abo is not just an actress & film. On Broadway she made a sensation in “Dziwna pair”, 10 years ago she released her first album and sang “Livin ‘on a Prayer” in a duet with Jon Bon Jovi. With us, the actress talks about the cult movies, the movement #MeToo and Złote Malinach. And she asks the first question.


Olivia d’Abo: What is a cult movie for you?

Marta Górna: It’s hard to explain. For me, this is a film with an ever-growing crowd of fans who, despite the fact that it was created decades ago, is still eagerly watched. More eagerly than new productions with nice special effects. And what is a cult movie for you?

I’m asking because I’m not sure what that means. I played in the ’90s in the movie The Spirit of ’76, which is now becoming cult. He talked about a group of leading scientists from another planet. Their leader, Carl Reiner (father of Rob Reiner), tells them on his deathbed that in order to understand the Declaration of Independence, they must go back in time until 1776, when it was accepted. Thanks to this, they have to find freedom. Although they are also looking for gasoline and accidentally move to 1976.

Nicole Wallace absorbed me so much that my psyche accepted her. One night, just before the nasty and quite strong scene that required me to refer to her dark past, I began to have strong stomach aches. At first, I thought I was eating a sandwich. Funny that sometimes we can react so psychosomatically.

People now want to see black characters more than they used to be.

I’m glad you talk about it. My favorite villain is Joker Heath Ledger. He spread the screen in every scene. He was confident, but at the same time it was obvious that he was suffering. No one else would play the role like Heath. He was enigmatic, exaggerated … When he talked about what made him who he was, he gave it up all. He hit the jackpot. The viewers wanted him to win. Once he put on his nursing uniform, I wanted him to blow up this building. You start to identify with him, you understand why he is an anarchist and you understand what he is fighting for. You just want He won. Especially since Batman is so …


Exactly! I felt sorry for everyone who was on the screen with Heathe Ledger. We are now at a time when viewers identify with black characters because they are more multidimensional. It’s more fun to play them too. They have nothing to lose. They crossed the border, for which some events pushed them.

It sounds as though you admired them.

I admire people who know who they are. For example, for me transsexuals and transvestites are the strongest people on our planet. And by the way, they are also the most feminine people, more feminine than most women I know. Because many women are still in a place where they think that asking for help is something bad and they are covering themselves with feminism. That’s good, but in my opinion, when it comes to the feminist movement, we still have a lot to do. As women, we must realize this.

#MeToo is quite a step forward.

This movement has created consciousness and this is a wonderful, positive thing. Changes have been coming for a long time. But we must be careful, because in the darkest scenario, we will destroy natural masculinity and femininity.

And regardless of everything, we are still mammals. Feeling the attraction to each other. Flirt is a normal thing and exists from the beginning of the world. Now it is extremely difficult for romanticism. Not only through applications that allow you to quickly arrange dates. Where’s destiny and romance? It’s very romantic when people talk about how they met. But they are not presented as often as they used to be. And that’s the problem.

Olivia d'Abo / photo: courtesy of Olivia d'Abo
Olivia d’Abo / photo courtesy of Olivia d’Abo

And #MeToo, in addition to the necessary changes, also caused fear of flirtation in men around the world. My son, who is millenial, told me: “Mom, I do not want girls to think I’m asking for a number because I want to embrace them or sleep with them. They can take away my intentions as insincere or false. I have to be careful that I did not come back. ”

When changes affect the behavior of subsequent generations of men, then you know that #MeToo really changed the rules of the game. It caused a revolution. But I think that balance is still needed in it.

It started with a bang.

It must have started. The only way for something to change is a loud scream. This cry echoed around the world. Now the movement begins to catch balance and we can not turn back anymore. Women united, understandable that their power is also in abundance. Women will no longer allow the old rules to come back. But I think that we could do better with some things.

For example?

Assessing how much someone is guilty. I think that not everyone was judged in proportion to what they did. Everyone was thrown in one bag. And yet not everyone was accused of the same. But nothing is perfect. The revolution must be loud and unpleasant. Your dirt will be dragged out. And women are finally respected. Because they deserve it. In the end, our planet is a woman, for God’s sake. It’s Mother Nature!

What is Hollywood now?

I now feel a greater appreciation for women in him. And I see that there are more difficult, demanding female roles. Not for dolls. I see greater demographic openness, that is – older actresses have more work. There is interest in such characters, there is a market. #MeToo has meant that actresses at a certain age can play. It’s exciting. And between them, a sisterly relationship developed.

Does it mean you used to compete?

I’ve never been like this. I always thought that she should win the best one. But I met with a different approach. In the past, we were not as solidary as now. Here, too, there was a revolution. We understood that we can unite. Of course, you can assume that “I have to be mean and fuck everyone”. If you want to be like this, please. However, this is a bit immature. There is enough space for everyone, and ultimately your life will be better if you let go. I am glad that I can see how it changes.

When I was at my first casting for “Wonderful years” they called me again five or six times. When I read the script, I knew that I had the best script I ever read in my hands. I felt that this was how the 1960s looked. I borrowed from her mother clothes from those years to fit the role more and I had no doubt that I would get it.

Together with me, a girl who had more of an acting experience than me was trying for a role. I asked her if she would give me a pen. She said, “No. It’s a soulless world and I will not give you a pen, sister, forget it.” Vile! This was my first experience of this type.

Sounds like she was the heroine of “Hairspray”.

It shook me very much. She raised her fierceness to a whole new level! Why can not we share this pen? I decided that I would never be like that. But when you start, you want it so bad. Your behavior is driven by this desire, and you have a goal before you. You will fight with all those who stand in your way, especially with other women, because they are your biggest competition.

 Olivia d'Abo as Karen Arnold in the series 'Cudowne lata' / photo courtesy of Olivia d'Abo 'title =' Olivia d'Abo as Karen Arnold in the series 'Wonderful years'
Olivia d’Abo as Karen Arnold in the TV series ‘Wonderful years’ / photo courtesy of Olivia d’Abo

But Anabella Sciorra, whom I met in the dressing room by Vincent d’Onofrio, when she started playing “Law and Order” told him that she considered me a very good actress. And that he admires me. I was delighted and it flattered me very much. Especially that I always admired her.

The insecurity disappears with age. The more roles you get, the more confident you are and what you are. You can afford to admit that someone else has done well with the role. I see now more and more women who support themselves on castings and wish them good luck.

You seem pretty relaxed.

I used to be focused only on my career. I did not see anything else outside of her. But because of that I lost contact with my life. I’ve been working since I was very young and my career was growing fast. But then I became a mother and began to devote myself to family, music, writing texts and expressing myself. I entered a completely new world. Now, when I work, I do not choose anything that seems disgraceful to me or does not speak to me.

I know that if something frightens me, it will push me further. And this will give me the opportunity to go beyond my comfort zone and try something that may not only be good but also important. That I will be able to communicate something. I want to risk it. I want every thing I take to be a journey at the same time. One who will teach me something.

Music is an important part of your life.

Thanks to her, I met my inner voice. He gives me immediate gratification. Acting, of course, too, eg when I’m on stage and I hear how the audience reacts to me. I absorb it. Teamwork is important in the theater. I feel it also playing my live music. I love music, I love acting. Both of these things give me something else. I used to think that I had to deal with them separately, but I do not think so.

Thanks to Broadway?

I played there in The Strange Pair with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. We gave nine performances a week throughout the year. It was a very hard job, but also an amazing experience. Theater live, every evening! We made 20 million dollars on tickets before we even started rehearsals. Director Joe Montello, who did, among others “Glengarry Glen Ross”, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick – working with them was something extraordinary.

And Nathan and Matthew have just made a new version of “Producers”, so as a dynamic duo they had a lot of fans. Each night was different. For me, this is the most intoxicating act – reacting on a regular basis, being confident and the material that is being done. I love to lose myself in the role. And by the way, the Broadway show has always been one of my biggest dreams. For me, Broadway means that you really succeeded.

Olivia d'Abo in Broadway performance 'Odd couple' / photo courtesy of Olivia d'Abo 'title =' Olivia d'Abo in the Broadway show 'Odd couple')
Olivia d’Abo in the Broadway show ‘The Odd Couple’) / photo courtesy of Olivia d’Abo

Before this experience, I thought about quitting acting. I did not know if I wanted to continue this because I did not feel that I had the challenges I needed. And then the opportunity suddenly arose. I had to go to New York with my own money, read the issues written by Neil Simon, become Gwendolyne Pigeon in “Strange couple”. Finally, something that was worth my risk came up. Something that allowed me to make a bold decision.

I created my own version of Gwendolyne, I invented this deadly laugh for her. I felt that it would be something that would revive me and provoke me to do my best. Then I thought, “This is my passion, that’s it, what else should I do in my life? Be a waitress?”.

Soon, also in Europe, we’ll see you in the new movie, “The Wrong Son.” You play a mother who lost her son.

This movie scares me, because my mother died in April. My heroine lost her husband and son and is completely alone in the world. I know exactly how he feels. From the very beginning I sensed that it would be a challenge. She is a woman who could easily become a victim by her gigantic sense of harm and suffering. Before I put on her, I asked myself, “How do I play someone who has managed to overcome it?”

Olivia d 'Abo in the film' The Wrong Son '/ photo: courtesy of Olivia d'Abo' title = 'Olivia d'Abo in the movie' The Wrong Son '
Olivia d’ Abo in the movie ‘The Wrong Son’ / photo courtesy of Olivia d’Abo

Years later, a young man knocks at her door and claims to be her missing son. But she feels that something is wrong. It was difficult for me psychologically, but also physically. I twisted my ankle on the first day of shooting and had 12 consecutive days to squeeze out as much as I could. The team wanted to hide it somehow, but I resisted. I said, “Let’s use it.”

Last week, the role became more physically demanding: I had to run through the forest and finally I forgot about the pain. I understood that in a sense it was a gift from fate. Another obstacle on the way of my heroine.

For your first two films, you got a Golden Raspberry for the worst actress. It seems to me that now you would not care. And how was it then, in 1984?

At that time I did not really know what Golden Raspberry really is. But since then I’ve heard that people with Oscars also have them. Golden Raspberries are a bit like Oscars – it can be your kiss of death. Because how to beat Oscar?

I was 14 when they gave me a Golden Raspberry for the worst actress for the films “Conan the Destroyer” and “Bolero”. The funny thing is that people think I played first in Conan. It’s not true. “Bolero” meant that I got a role in “Conan”, but the premiere was later followed by confusion.

The film industry can be funny. Everyone has a story about how he got his first role. The one that made them put their foot between the door. For me, this is the role of a young Spanish Gypsy woman. The irony is that I’m not a Spanish woman but a British woman, and my hair is clear. “Bolero” was created in Spain, so they could easily find there someone who would fit the role, I was after all at the other end of the world.

Well, but I played it. And how it happened is a very storytelling story. When I surfed on the beach with my brother, a talent hunter spotted me, a crazy French woman with a strange accent. She said I would become a star, and I thought she was crazy.

My brother behaved like a professional agent. He said: “My sister is a great actress, we will send you her portraits.” Pictures that I did not have, of course. Eventually, this woman sent my pictures to John Derek and his wife, Bo, who was a big star then. I met with them, read the script and the contact broke off for a few months. In the end, they appealed to me and so I made $ 10,000 dollars that I paid for private schools for me and my brother. It was almost like a fairy tale.

I got the role in “Conanie” thanks to “Bolero”. “Conan” caused a stir, then “Bolero” came to the movies and people were confused, because the movies entered the cinemas in the wrong order. They could also think, “Who is this girl, this almost a woman who is not a real Spanish woman?” They did not know which drawer to put in.

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I was 14 at the time and felt a little hurt because I was young and inexperienced. Besides, I still have to learn a lot. When I think about it now, I understand that Golden Raspberry was just another prize for those who are just starting. And I can see how far I managed to go.

Posłuchaj podcastu Olivii d’Abo “Every Friday with Dan and Olivia”!