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 12:00 AM ET

Margot Kidder On the Other Hand, Death 04 x390 (Here!) | Advocate.com

At this point,
Amityville Horror,Black Christmas,Sisters,

and
Superman

have all been given the remake/reboot treatment. What do you
think was special about the 1970s that makes it so difficult
for the remakes to replicate the magic of those films?

Now, I am not in the movie world anymore, so I don't know what
the hell's going on down there -- [movies] are just fun to
watch. One of the problems, I think, overall, is that movies
cost so much money. I mean, we made movies for $300,000. Now
the budgets are as much as that of a small nation. The desire
of the studios to make nothing but blockbusters is the problem;
you can't take risks on small movies if you're required to make
a blockbuster.

I know you've been an outspoken opponent of some of our
government's military efforts in the past few decades. Why do
you think society celebrates Lois Lane asking tough questions
on the big screen but resists when the actress playing her does
the same in real life?

First of all, it's very American. It's very odd, this notion
that artists shouldn't talk about political stuff, as if it
doesn't affect us as much as it affects everybody else. In most
countries artists are de facto involved in the political
process because they often lead the way -- they often write the
articles and are at the forefront of a lot of the voices that
are objecting to Neanderthal policies, such as the ones we were
stuck with for the last eight years. I think it's easier in a
comic book to go,
Oh, this isn't real.

I understand you recently became a U.S. citizen?

I did. I couldn't stand back and watch and not be able to vote
any longer. The last eight years were so bad -- it was like
being in a nightmare we're just waking up from. People didn't
want to look. We suffered a collective amnesia. And
now one of the results of that, one of the many, is this
hideous economic collapse. I'm working now with our political
group -- our website is

MontanaWomenFor.org

; you should go look us up, we're pretty hot! -- and
this month we're focusing on our food pantry; at this point
every town and city has got to make all politics local.

In the film
On the Other Hand, Death,

a character says "We don't pick our fights, our fights pick
us." You're an inspiration to many for your courageous fight
to understand and come to terms with bipolar disorder. How did
"coming out of the closet" as a public figure dealing with
this very common issue change your life?

Well, coming out of the closet was not my idea [
laughs

]. I mean, it was all over the news. It's not like I had any
options. But it was great -- it was the uncaging of a secret
that was not a secret to anyone who knew me, but it was a big
weight off my back. I didn't have to pretend any longer or try
desperately to go into hiding when the symptoms hit. One of the
things that allowed that piece of my story to be easy was that
I got letters from all over the world from people. They all
started out "My family doesn't talk about this, so I've never
talked about this," and I go,
Wait a minute -- there are that many people whose families
have this so-called deep dark secret? Why aren't we all talking
about it?

Everybody knows
somebody who's been through something like this. So it was very
easy to speak about it, and now it's just part of my story --
it's not hard at all. It's been almost 14 years now since
that happened. No, 13, without an episode of either bipolar or
depression or mania, so I think I can safely say I'm cured. I
now speak in opposition to conventional psychiatric wisdom that
says you have to stay on all these drugs to manage your
symptoms for the rest of your life, even if you feel like a
vegetable. I think that's a hideous, hideous extension
of the prejudice against people who suffer from so-called
mental illnesses, and it's one of the great travesties in our
society and it's all done so the pharmaceutical industry can
make extraordinary profits and I find it obscene.

Well, Margot, you truly are an American icon…

You angel! I just lasted. I just got older and lasted this
long, that's all.

If you could tell the young girl from Canada all that lay
before her, would she have believed you?

Yes, she would have when she was young [
laughs

]. You know, I was only in Hollywood a week when I got the
ingenue lead in a big movie Norman Jewison directed [
Gaily, Gaily

]. I was so naive it never occurred to me I should realize how
lucky I was. It took me until my mid 30s to realize,
You really lucked out, Kidder,

instead of going,
Oh, yeah, this is what's supposed to happen.

That's the wonderful thing about being young: You don't have a
clue!

Tags: film

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