Monday, June 9, 2014

BEA's Adult Author Breakfast on Thursday: Anjelica Huston

Our Thursday at BEA 2014 started off spectacularly with a breakfast that featured Anjelica Huston, Tavis Smiley, and Lisa Scottoline, and was hosted by the amazing Neil Patrick Harris!  When we signed up for this breakfast, we knew of course that we would NOT be disappointed, and had been looking forward to it with anticipation for months.  

When the day finally arrived, we got to the Javits Center Special Events Hall to see a line that felt endless!  We eventually made it into the auditorium and found seats in the table area, which meant we were given a small stack of books (which included Anjelica Huston's first autobiography, Tavis Smiley's history of Martin Luther King, Jr's final year, and an excerpt from NPH's upcoming choose-your-own-adventure style autobiography).  Amber got a great shot of the newest additions to our collection:

We settled in with coffee, water, orange juice, and a muffin basket, and soon NPH was introduced.  He was instantly hilarious, with just the right mix of humility and hilarity (everyone knows that smile that he pulls off perfectly!).  He spoke briefly about his own upcoming book, and then introduced the speakers and turned the floor over to them. 

Anjelica Huston spoke first, and you can instantly tell there's a reason she's so revered in the industry.  She began with a poem by Maya Angelou, "A Brave & Startling Truth", to honor the poet's recent passing.  The entire hall full of people was properly respectful.  Then, Ms. Huston began her talk by mentioning how she only began publishing last fall.  (That was the autobiography which the breakfast attendees had received.)  Her mother was a dancer who once made the cover of Life magazine, a cover that was likened to the Mona Lisa - a photographer came to take images of a prima ballerina in the same corps as Anjelica's mother, but ended up enthralled by and snapping shots of Enrica Soma instead: 

Ms. Huston recalls reading Colette at age 13; her mother gave her the book. She commented on how she learned the art of live theater as much from her mother as from her more famous father.  She talked about how she used to make homes for the fairies in the hollows of chestnut trees with her doll furniture, which thoroughly charmed us.  She loved the Addams Family comics, and ironically would "practice" being Morticia in front of the mirror.  Her first performance was with the older daughter of a family friend, and took place in front of Peter O'Toole!  They put on part of Macbeth, although Anjelica remembers that she got stage fright and ran behind a curtain.  She had been bitten by the acting bug, though, and her life would never be the same.  She began to audition, although she felt very unlucky at first.  When she was dating Jack Nicholson in the 70's ("he was the love of my, A love of my life" she quipped), she wanted to be getting the sorts of roles he was - for things like Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and The Shining.  A car accident which luckily caused no lasting damage, however, helped her change her attitude, and to "gain a little humility," she said.  Because "someone telling me what I can't do brings out my most childish defiance!"  

Luckily, Anjelica Huston went on to take on spectacular roles, and her performance in Prizzi's Honor made the Hustons the first family in history to have three generations of Oscar-winners.  So while it was a rough start, Ms. Huston really went on to shine, as we all know well!

At this point in her life, though, Ms. Huston wants only the simple things, such as being around the people and animals she loves, sitting by the sea, drinking a glass of wine, enjoying a pretty garden, and the like.  "I'm not so interested anymore in the big waves, they're hard on my heart...I want to live a harmonious life," she concluded.  

Finish reading about the breakfast on our second post here!

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