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Lara Flynn Boyle doesn’t do a lot of interviews, but on Sunday morning she went looking for one.
“I’m told that you’re the person I should be talking to?” says the actress, approaching me on the grass known as Exposition Park in downtown Los Angeles, site of the 15th annual LA County Walk to Defeat ALS.
Boyle is wearing aviators, cargo pants, red Nikes and a navy blue t-shirt announcing her participation as part of Team Winsor Pilates. The shirt is enough of an explanation as to why she’s eager to go on the record. Mari Winsor is a Pilates guru who is facing a brave battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and she’s got many famous friends including Boyle, Miley Cyrus and Elizabeth Berkley. For the past few years, Winsor has had a strong presence at the walk, and this year her team is sharing a tent with Nanci Ryder’s Team Nanci supporters who, for the fourth straight year, pushed Ryder to No. 1 in fundraising.
Celebrities bring media attention that leads to money that fuels the research to find a cure. Everybody knows that, but not much is known about Boyle these days.
She’s kept a low profile in recent years, and many of the recent headlines carrying her name have not been kind, typically using words like “unrecognizable” in reference to her appearance. ALS is a horrifying neurodegenerative disease that robs people of the ability to walk, talk, eat and, sometimes even blink, so trivial questions about looks or tabloid attention seem inappropriate.
Still, Boyle is game to talk and the ground covered, including her relationship with Winsor, life lessons she’s learned from watching her friend face ALS and whether she’s done with acting.
How long have you known Mari?
About 12 years.
Mari has been a presence here at the walk and has shared her journey with this life-threatening disease. What can you say about how she’s faced this battle?
It’s not a battle for her, it’s a conviction. She’s been my Pilates instructor for years, and I fell in love with her. We became lovely friends. This is someone who is not a crybaby. It’s unbelievable to imagine someone so sprite, so healthy and a Pilates instructor … it’s the last person you would think that this would fall upon. She’s my hero.
What have you learned from her that you’ve applied to your life?
To shut up, quit crying and [quit] being a big baby about everything. Wow, I have no problems. I spend time with her and it’s unbelievable how inspiring she is. She’s not a showoff unlike me —being an actress who loves the praise. She doesn’t want any praise. She is just unbelievably inspiring. Every time I spend days with her, I’m awestruck when I get in my car. I’m awestruck about the power of her spirit.
You mentioned being an actress. What’s the status of your career right now? How are you feeling about acting? [Her last acting credit came in 2014 on the family comedy Lucky Dog.]
I love a call sheet. I go where a good call sheet takes me.
The conversation in Hollywood right now is all about sexual misconduct in the wake of Harvey Weinstein. Were you ever mistreated in your career?
Oh, all the time. All the time! It happens all the time.
How did you handle it?
I looked at it on two levels: Do I want to flip burgers, or do I want to put up with someone not being appropriate with me? I chose the other side.
Can you speak about any of those experiences? Have you processed what happened?
It still stays with you. You still remember things that were not quite appropriate, but you move on and that’s all you can do I guess. I support all the actresses that have come forward.
How are you on a personal level? How are you feeling? What are you up to?
Nothing. I’m an actress, nothing is personal (laughs). It’s all out in the open.
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) October 15, 2017
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