Who would have ever thought that Angela Lansbury, who has had a successful career if film, television, and on the stage ever since her Oscar-nominated performance in 1944’s Gaslight (her first film!) would be most widely known for voicing a teapot?
Of course, Lansbury didn’t voice a teapot in any movie — Lansbury voiced Mrs. Potts in Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast, one of the few animated films to be nominated for Best Picture, and in the movie her character memorably sung the film’s title song.
But even though Beauty and the Beast is set to be re-released in theaters in 3D later this month, the occasion has allowed the 86 year-old actress to reflect on her past career and future roles in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Lansbury’s most famous television role was her twelve-year run on detective drama Murder, She Wrote. Although the role brought Lansbury both fame and fortune — not to mention four Golden Globes — Lansbury remembers the experience as being positive but confining, explaining, “Shooting a TV series is a 24-hour job. You work Monday through Friday; you get up at 5:15, you get home at 7:15. You have no social life; you just have time, maybe if you’re lucky, with your family over the weekend, your grandchildren and so on, and that’s OK. But you have no other life whatsoever, and this went on for 12 years. After a while I was dying to get out of it and move on. But you get trapped by success sometimes.”
After living years in Los Angeles, Lansbury got an apartment in New York in 2006 and resumed her very successful career on Broadway (she is the only actress to win four Tony Awards for Best Actress, and won an additional one for Best Featured Actress in 2009).
Starting in April she will appear in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, and Lansbury explains that it’s about the time for her to head back to New York by saying, “I come back for the holidays, do Christmas and cook the dinner and do all the good stuff that one enjoys as a family. And now I’m getting ready to put the house to sleep again and go back to New York and start rehearsals on the 10th of January.”
But ultimately Lansbury is forever associated with a cartoon China teapot, and that suits her just fine. She confesses, “[Children] don’t know that I’ve done those other things. They know me by my voice because children hear me in a supermarket; sometimes I’ll be chatting with a friend about lettuce, and suddenly a child will say, ‘Mrs. Potts!’ It’s enchanting.”