Deauville 2011: Shirley MacLaine Talks Acting and the Afterlife

The Oscar-winning actress opened up while in town for an homage to her career.

Shirley MacLaine may have had several past lives, but her current one was honored at the 37th annual Deauville American Film Festival on Sunday with an homage to her long and ongoing career. The actress waxed nostalgic in Normandy with The Hollywood Reporter’s France Correspondent Rebecca Leffler and shared her terms of endearment for her unordinary career.

On Alfred Hitchcock: “He was something else. He was very, very, very funny. He had to be when he looked like that.”

On memory: “I’ve learned to give up the worry about it. Anything I can’t remember anymore isn’t all that important. Most of my past I regard with nostalgia because I can’t remember it.”

On the “New Hollywood”: "I don’t understand it. It’s not the real Hollywood to me. There are many actors and directors who are brilliant like Fincher or Soderbergh for example. But we used to make pictures in 30 days and that’s considered a below-the-line wonder now.”

On Hollywood: “Hollywood is a lot further ahead than Washington, DC. It has the truth sooner and it’s more relevant. I feel like I belong there. I live in Sante Fe, New Mexico, but more for my beliefs. It’s the spiritual capital of North America.”

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On acting and the afterlife: “It’s fun to do this investigation into who are we really. I don’t see any different between creating a character in a movie and wondering how he or she got to be that way and my own particular identity search. Every day, we make the creative choices of what to wear, eat and say. We’re the writers, directors, producers and distributors of our lives every day. What’s the difference between that and Hollywood?”

On the character she relates to most: “Aurora from Terms of Endearment. She was just a vast canvas, which I think I am as well. As for my Oscar for that, maybe I was just playing myself.”

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On her critics: “I feel bad for people who make malicious fun. Everyone knows there’s something more there. I think people get so caught up in materialization that they don’t open up. It takes courage not to be so efficient. We’re in a culture where it’s a luxury just to reflect.”

On l’amour: “Love should be permanent in my opinion, but it isn’t. I have permanent love for my dogs though. It will not disappear or deplete or change until they go.”

On her Bernie co-star Jack Black: “He’s such a dream. He’s so fun and so nice. It was a pleasure to get up at 6 am to spend the day with him. I play a wealthy, mean bitch in the movie – I love playing those parts.”

On acting: “I feel very relaxed in front of the camera, I don’t know why. I don’t have anything to hide. I’m not afraid of it.”

On her life: “I really don’t have any regrets. I don’t understand the concept.”