Here's Lookin' at You, Kidder

Since rising to stardom in the '70s, Margot Kidder has left her mark on some of American cinema's most iconic roles. Now making her home in Montana, she returns -- as a lesbian -- in On the Other Hand, Death.

BY Harrison Pierce

February 24 2009 1:00 AM ET

Margot Kidder On the Other Hand, Death 02 x390 (Here!) | Advocate.com

Was there anyone who inspired your characterization of
Dorothy Fisher in the film?

I based some of it on a very dear friend here in Livingston,
and then we watched it together and she cracked up. She said,
"Here I am, a gay woman, watching my straight friend portray
a gay woman." And I hadn't told her I based it on her [
laughs

]. So it was fun. But you know, the thing that people tend to
jump over when they talk about portrayals is that, generally,
if the script's well written, the portrayal can be found in the
writing. If you look at the writing of this particular piece,
which is very good and very sophisticated, she's there.

The
Los Angeles Times
wrote a review of your performance that reads like a love
letter. Did you see it?

I did see it, thank you. It was very nice.

Are reviews something you've heeded throughout your
career?

No, because when you get the bad ones they're devastating. I
remember one from my mid 20s that began "Margot Kidder, with
her unfortunate thighs," and I remember going "ahhh!" Eh,
it's just people writing their opinions.

Let's go back to the beginning. So how'd a nice Canadian
girl like you end up in Tinseltown?

Well, at a very young age I decided I was going to be a -- I
didn't say
actress

to myself, I said
movie star.

I was living in mining camps in the Canadian north, and I'd
look at these movie magazines, which fascinated me with this
wonderful world of these people in Hollywood, and I wanted to
be like them. My diaries, my little-girl diaries, are full of
things saying "I want to go to Hollywood and be a movie
star." And I didn't even know what acting was, but I knew
that somehow came with the turf. So I was in school plays and
stuff. I was two years ahead of myself in school, so I was at
[college] at 16 and then I went,
That's not how I'm going to find my fortune, here in
Toronto.

And from there I went to Hollywood, at 18, and then kept on
working. I was too dumb to know that I could possibly fail,
because I was so young and naive [
laughs

].

Early in your career you shared a beach house with actress
Jennifer Salt at Nicholas Canyon Beach in Malibu that served as
a hangout for not-yet-famous filmmakers like Martin Scorcese,
Brian De Palma, and Steven Spielberg. That period has become
the stuff of Hollywood legend, hasn't it?

I guess it has. For us it was just a bunch of broke kids
passing the hat for dinner. We didn't think we were unusual,
although we had a great degree of cockiness. We were sure we
could change the entertainment business and the world and
everything else all at once. It was a wonderful time, and we
had a great sense of community. After it all sort of fell apart
and everybody got successful and went off to do their own
thing, I never got that sense of community again until I moved
back to Livingston. I think it's an essential in the human
experience.

Any anecdote you can share from that particular period that
gay readers might get a kick out of?

Oh, well, once I dropped mescaline and lost my boyfriend to
another man. Oh, no, it wasn't mescaline, it was the love drug.
What the hell was the love drug?

Ecstasy?

MDA. It wasn't ecstasy because it didn't have speed in it. In
those days, the pre-cocaine days, we took drugs only once in a
while. The guy who wrote the book [Peter Biskind, author of
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

] makes it seem like we were all loaded all the time, which
wasn't true at all. I mean, pot, maybe. We were very innocent.
We were deeply innocent people. So we took the love drug to
find love or something, and I remember looking over and there
was my boyfriend necking away with another man, so the love
drug worked for him [
laughs

].

Tags: film

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