I saw this article posted online recently where British actress, Anne Reid (best known for her role the long-running soap Coronation Street) was quoted as saying that actresses who don’t have children lack the authenticity to play mothers on screen. Her explanation: “I think you kind of have to have been there. Because it’s a gut thing, isn’t it?”
I huffed and puffed appropriately of course, but then I took a step back and thought about it. I don’t know what it’s like to be a mother. I don’t know how the relationship between a mother and child feels. I know it’s unique and I can guess how it feels, but I really have no experience to tap into. I don’t think I’d play a very convincing mother, so maybe Reid is right.
Then I remembered: I’m not an actress. Duh! Of course I wouldn’t be very good.
So, Annette Bening isn’t gay, but you wouldn’t know if after watching The Kids are Alright. Helen Mirren is neither a mother nor a royal, but she had us convinced of both in her role in The Queen. Hilary Swank isn’t a boxer, Ellen Page isn’t a pregnant teen, Judy Garland had never been tossed over the rainbow by a tornado, and I’m pretty sure that Kathy Bates has never been so enamored by an author that she’s resorted to kidnap and torture. They are actresses; playing characters unlike themselves is what they do.
Anne Reid is clearly a talented actress and has won a major award for playing a mother, but she’s also played a host of other roles in her 50-year career, including a woman with Alzheimer’s. Were you not convincing in that role, Anne, because you’ve never had Alzheimer’s?
Didn’t think so. I rest my case.