Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist
 

Jessica Lange Interview -


She got the monkey off her back a long time ago so it's a subject to relegate to second banana time with the actress the increasingly perspective Jack Nicholson calls a cross between a delicate fawn and a Buick.

Jessica Lange is 46 this year. She has made a lot of films and babies. She is an off-beat beauty; a tall natural blonde with an equally natural flat nose so unlike these pert little upturned things that sniff around Beverly Hills . She was a model before she jumped into the arms of Jeff Bridges and 'King Kong' in 1976.

'Successful model? That's a myth. I doubt that anybody could find a published photograph of me. The year I modelled was the most painful year of my life. Editors would always talk to you in the third person as though you were merely a piece of merchandise. You get to a point where you are tired of worrying about how people are going to judge you. In your twenties your buffeted around. I'm not pretty. I am pretty. Am I talented? I'm smart, maybe? Forget it.'

Nearly two decades on Ms Lange collected her second Oscar last week -- as Best Actress for 'Blue Sky' in which she co-starred with Tomy Lee Jones -- and she may be a contender again next year for 'Losing Isaiah.' Like Lange, it is a formidable piece of work.

The film directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal (Gyllenhaal) is the 'Kramer Versus Kramer' of today. It deals with the complex situation of inter-racial adoption. Lange is a social worker who adopts a black child. Then, the boy's natural mother, a former crack cocaine addict, wants the child back. Halle Berry who stole the frothy' The Flintstones' last year plays the real mother. You can understand the drama and emotions involved. And the politically correct lobby stalking the corridors of the movie. 'Black babies belong with black mothers,' says the lawyer representing Halle Berry . But, for drama as often now in real life, the adoptive parents fight back.

They point out that they are teaching the boy about multi-racial culture, about the ethnic melting pot we all live in. There's a wonderful line when they explain that the boy watches ' Sesame Street '. To them it represents all that is good in education and entertainment. The opposition lawyer quizzes:' So who is this child to identify with? The yellow Muppet?'

In America this is called 'transracial adoption' and there have been studies showing how the children as they become teenagers feel 'lost'. They are black with white 'parents' and the ethnic hook is missing. Nevertheless, this teenaged thing -- and the identity thing happens to almost all teenagers -- goes. The majority, say the surveys, benefit from growing in a family environment rather than in a crack house in some inner-city slum.

'It is a film with a strong theme and a message,' says Lange who was 'compelled' to make the movie. She believes it is an issue which has side-stepped most of us, a subject which has been withering in the dark. No longer. She and Halle Berry deliver career performances.

Which is what Lange has been doing since she got out of the clutches of 'King Kong'. She likes blueberry pancakes rather than caviar. She's also happier in the backwoods than the Polo Lounge. After starring as Kong's handmaiden -- Italian film tycoon Dino De Laurentiis called it 'King Klong' and had similar difficulties with his star's name -- she became a trivia joke on the Hollywood glitz circuit. Her later pursuits proved them all wrong.

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