Scott's World -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By VERNON SCOTT, United Press International

HOLLYWOOD, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- There's a place in Hollywood's Pantheon of great actresses for Academy Award-winner Sissy Spacek, who deserves a second Oscar for her new movie "In the Bedroom."

Spacek yet again proves her astonishing talents as one of the country's best dramatic actresses in this powerful story of a family in crisis.


It is Spacek's third movie this year, preceding "Tuck Everlasting" and "Midwives," an unusually busy spate of activity for the diminutive (5-foot-2) actress who chooses her roles carefully.

Though short in stature, Spacek is a towering actress, right up there with the best of her contemporaries and such old-timers as Helen Hayes and Ruth Gordon.

Like other serious actresses, Spacek eschews Tinseltown gossip, supermarket tabloids and such hyper-thyroid publicity mills as "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight."


As with many another superlative acting talent, she doesn't live in Southern California, choosing to make her home on a horse ranch in rural Virginia with her husband of 28 years, set designer/director Jack Fisk, and daughters Schuyler and Madison.

Sissy, whose real name is Mary Elizabeth, represents millions of American women who are neither outstanding beauties nor hyped celebrities.

She is freckled with straight hair and an unspectacular body. But her large eyes are soulful and expressive. Like millions of other women worldwide, she has great strength of character and it shows through.

Spacek is out of place among current flavors of the moment: ironed blonde hair, anorexic-figured, breast-enhanced and belly button-pierced glamour girls worshipped by photographers and magazine circulation builders.

But put Spacek in a drama and magic happens.

She represents an ignored, over-looked but huge segment of American womanhood: strong, ladylike Southern women, rural wives in Appalachia and the Texas plains. Women who build and maintain families and, yes, stand by their men.

They are unpretentious, hard-working females who receive little recognition or praise, be they waifs or abused wives.

Spacek, a native of Quitman, Texas, has played both in her 30 years as an actress and has never less than outstanding performances.


A sampling of her films include "Carrie," "3 Women," Welcome to L.A.," "Raggedy Man," "The Grass Harp," "The River" and the classic "Coal Miner's Daughter" for which she won her Oscar.

In every performance Spacek has brought life and passion to the women she portrays as have few other actresses.

"I love the women I've played," Spacek said this week. "I'm drawn to ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, which is a big part of the human condition.

"I connect with just plain old everyday people. Human behavior fascinates me, the people who are the nuts and bolts of this country who help hold up the world.

"They don't do things for recognition or money. They do the right thing.

"People like Loretta Lynn -- who I played in 'Coal Miner's Daughter.' -- I love Loretta."

Does Spacek have an instinct for off-beat roles?

"No," she said. "You know I just read things and when they touch something in me I connect with them in some way. Maybe it is instinctual. I bond to them.

"I never set out to get a part; they're brought to my attention by my agents -- Rick Nicita and Steve Tellez. I'm eternally grateful to them both.


"The films that belong to me I'll do and the ones that don't I won't. It's magical.

"I think that no human gets away unscathed in this old life. We've all experienced loss and grief and pain and tragedy. Look at this nation now.

"In terms of 'In The Bedroom,' the script just hit a chord and seemed very, very real. I've never had a life like my character Ruth Fowler, but I've suffered loss in my life.

"This is a human emotion that I recognized and could connect with."

Why has Spacek never been a flavor of the month?

"I started out in the '70s, a special time to work with so many good directors and actors. Because of the prevailing issues my generation of actresses became products of our time.

"We were serious about what we did. We didn't want to be 'The Girl,' we wanted to be representative of womanhood. I want a long career like Hepburn, Crawford and Davis. If I want to work at 75 I hope I'll be able to do it.

"The actresses of my era are Jessica Lange, Sally Field, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton."


None of them was over-exposed in gossip columns or exploited on TV talk shows. But they collected Oscars and gave the screen some of its best performances.

"My father is Czechoslovakian. Mother is English-Irish, so I'm a mutt," Sissy said.

Not so. She epitomizes personally and on screen millions of unsung women who represent the best in the complex, ever-changing fabric of America.

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