Continued (page 2 of 4)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Joan Collins
Joan Collins has appeared in more than 118 movies and television series since she began acting when she was 9. She’s been on stage, written novels and memoirs and, she says with amusement, she’s active on Twitter. The actress, who turns 80 in May, is best known for her role as Alexis Carrington on the ’80s nighttime soap opera, Dynasty. She will receive the Sedona International Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. During the festival, she will perform One Night with Joan, her one-woman show that she has staged around the globe. The festival will also screen two of her films, Decadence and Rally ’Round the Flag, Boys! Joan checked in with us from L.A.
Sedona Monthly: Congratulations on receiving SIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Have you ever been to Sedona?
Joan Collins: I was in Sedona in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I went to an actualization course with Tina Sinatra. It’s beautiful – I’m looking forward to coming again.
You’ve been making films since the short Facts and Fancies in 1951, and part of your one-woman show, One Night with Joan, recaps your career. What is it like to see clips from all the films and television shows you’ve been a part of?
Quite frankly, I don’t really look at them anymore. I’ve been playing this show for about eight years. It was quite fascinating at first – to watch and see how I’ve evolved as a person and an actress. What is fascinating now is the fact that so many of the people I worked with are no longer with us. I came into the business when I was 9, and I was always the youngest person in any movie.
What can our audience expect from One Night with Joan? Tell us about the show.
In addition to my career, it covers divorces and the very famous court case I had with Random House. There are amusing stories – I talk about people they will know like Gene Kelly, Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, Paul Newman, Nigel Hawthorne, John Gielgud, Linda Evans. I’ve worked with a lot of very interesting and quite famous people.
SIFF will also screen Decadence from 1994 and Rally ’Round the Flag, Boys! from 1958. What are your memories of making these two films?
These are two of my favorite film projects. In Decadence, I think I gave quite an interesting performance. Rally ’Round the Flag was my first stab at comedy, and Paul Newman was the person responsible for me receiving that role. The studio wanted a blonde to play the role of Angela; they said, ‘Brunettes aren’t funny. Blondes are funny.’ I think it’s an underrated film. Paul and I have a drunk scene. We didn’t get drunk, but we had a scene where we had to laugh a lot. We were laughing hysterically all day long, and finally the director, Leo McCarey, said, ‘Stop all this laughing crap. We’re trying to make a comedy for Christ’s sake!’
Decadence was interesting because Steven Berkoff, who was the producer-director-writer-actor, promised me that we would have a two-week rehearsal beforehand. He’d done the play and performed it over 1,000 times – I’d never done it. Well, two weeks before filming, he told me we would have a week to rehearse. A week before, he said we couldn’t have a week to rehearse; we would have to do it the day before shooting. We ran through it the day before we shot. It’s a very, very demanding role because I’m on the screen the entire time. The character has very long speeches. I felt intimidated that Steven has amassed 1,000 performances so he knew all the nuances, and I had not. We almost did it rough – the first take. I am quite proud of how it came out, but I’m never thrilled to see myself on screen. I’ve been making Happily Divorced with Fran Drescher. After they filmed, they asked me if I wanted to see it and I said no.
You’re best known for your roll as Alexis Carrington on Dynasty. Those nighttime soap operas from the 1980s have really made a comeback in recent years with the revival of Dallas and similar series such as Revenge. Are you proud of Dynasty and Alexis as being part of your legacy and having such a lasting influence on television?
I wouldn’t use the word proud. I think it was an iconic role in an iconic series – arguably one of the best nighttime soap operas ever. I feel I contributed to it in a positive way. The character I played, who could have turned out to be just a baddy, bitchy cliché, became very much admired by many people. I’m not surprised it’s had an influence on TV, but I don’t think there are any nighttime soap operas. Apparently Revenge is the only one. I don’t think Gossip Girl is anything like Dynasty – it’s aimed at teenagers. I don’t think there has been anything for adults. Movies people saw in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s always featured adults. Films were made for grownups. In the ’60s, they started to have younger and younger people in films. That is what they do now. Films and television [are] aimed [at] younger audiences. In the ’80s, the studios and networks decided to aim for an adult generation, and I think that’s what happened with Dynasty. Of course, I’m talking network [television], I’m not talking cable, which has the best shows, like Homeland – that’s practically the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV. Networks aren’t really interested in anyone over the age of 30. It’s pretty sad because most people under 30 don’t want to watch TV.
Aside from Homeland, are there any other television shows are you watching nowadays?
I watch very little. I watch Downton Abbey. Those are two of the only ones I watch. I love movies – I go to the movies all of the time. I thought Argo was brilliant and I thought Hitchcock was wonderful. I just saw Skyfall, which I loved. I watch movies all the time on DVD or AMC. I just prefer movies, frankly.
When it comes to performing, do you prefer movies more than television?
To me, there’s not that much difference in actual performance.
You’ve seen many changes in television and Hollywood over the years. What role do you think film festivals play in the modern-day entertainment industry?
I think film festivals have become more and more important in letting the public become aware of small, independent films. There’s a huge proliferation. I think with all the different awards, the general public becomes aware of a particular film that they wouldn’t be aware of if it didn’t have the publicity that comes with film festival accolades. Film festival films tend to be more esoteric. When we went to see Skyfall, we saw six trailers, and I said to my husband, ‘There’s only one I want to see.’ It’s all about car crashes and car chases. I’m not interested in that. It’s geared toward 7 and 20 year olds. Film festivals give us original material.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the third volume of my memoires, and then I’m going to do a movie in England called Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist with Emily Watson, Celia Imrie and Dominic Monaghan.