With a career that began in 1960, Sally Kirkland has built an incredible resume’ of roles on both television and in film. After small roles on episodic television and the occasional film, she hit it big in 1973 by appearing in two of the year’s biggest hits, “The Way We Were” and the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, “The Sting.” While continuing to appear on some of the more popular television series of the decade (“Baretta,” “The Rookies,” “Kojack” among others) she continued on the big screen with roles in “Blazing Saddles,” “Bite the Bullet,” “A Star Is Born” (which was just released on Blu-ray) and “Private Benjamin.” In 1987 she won a Golden Globe and earned an Academy Award nomination for her role as a former Czech-star trying to make it in New York City in the film, “Anna.” She continues to work steadily, with notable roles in films like “The Best of the Best,” “JFK” and “Richard III.” She currently stars in Justin Chambers’ new drama “Broken Roads.” Ms. Kirkland recently sat down with Media Mikes to talk about her new film, what she has coming up next and what it’s like to be an Oscar nominee.
Mike Smith: Tell us about Mrs. Wallace, your character in “Broken Roads.”
Sally Kirkland: She is a strong, proud, and lonely survivor who when we find her has been lost since her husbands death. She never had a good relationship with her daughter. And when her grandson shows up at her door step angry over his mothers death she has an extraordinary opportunity to experience love again.
MS: What attracted you to the role?
SK: Because I’ve never been a physical mother or grandmother and it was an opportunity to experience that with her. I feel she is amazingly dramatic and funny, the best kind of role. Her vulnerability is breath taking. I love roles where I get to open peoples hearts. I was motivated by (writer/director) Justin Chambers passion and vision…as well as Aiden Bristow’s. (Ms. Kirkland’s co-star in the film).
MS: You’re also credited in “Broken Roads” as an associate producer. How did that come about?
SK: In this particular case it allowed me to bring in writers to help with the script and to have casting consultation and bring in music composers. It also gave me creative consultation in the look of the marketing and posters, etc.
MS: One of my favorite clips on Youtube is the Academy Awards ceremony when you were nominated for “Anna.” While most nominees, then and now, appear calm you were anything but. What was going through your mind in the few moments after you hear: “And the winner is……?”
SK: I think in my own mind. I thought I was going to win, and I’ve never been good at covering up my feelings or knowing how to lie. It was a huge humbling experience. Check out the video below to watch Ms. Kirkland at the Oscars.
You’ve built an incredible body of work over six decades. How have you managed to sustain such a long and successful career?
I’ve been very blessed to have worked with some of the greatest actors and directors in the world. Starting with “The Sting” and “The Way We Were” (directed, respectively, by George Roy Hill and Sydney Pollack and both starring, coincidentally, Robert Redford). They let me know there was no where to go but up. I’ve been passionate about acting since I was ten years old. Never was too interested in going to college or having a family. My whole life is my art and God. I experience the flow of God when I’m doing my best acting.
MS: What do you have coming up next?
SK: A film called, “Alice Stands Up”, written and directed by Brent Roske, who directed me in a short called “African Chelsea.” He’s written this film for me, which is extraordinary. We should begin shooting by spring.