Shirley MacLaine on Her Early Career: “I was not a Hollywood glamor girl; I guess I was basically a young character actress”


Recently Shirely MacLaine was awarded the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award for her long career in films — which is still ongoing, as she stars in this year’s Jack Black comedy Bernie and next year’s Ben Stiller comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

She was joined at the ceremony with her past actress co-stars, including Meryl Streep, Sally Field, and Julia Roberts, and some of Hollywood’s iconic males, like Jack Nicholson and MacLaine’s own brother, Warren Beatty.  MacLaine talked with Zap2It about her career and why she doesn’t feel qualified to give advice to young actors.

Despite her years of experience, MacLaine claims that she isn’t the one to ask for advice on how to make it.  She says, “I talk to young people today who ask me for advice, ask how I did it and I don’t really have any advice. It all happened so quickly. My advice would center around how you handle it, how you know who you are, how you become self-aware early enough. I mean, it happened to me when I was 19.”

Of course, part of the problem is that MacLaine didn’t quite fit the almost mandatory starlet role in her early years.  She explains, “Nobody knew what to do with me anyway.  I was not a Hollywood glamor girl; I guess I was basically a young character actress. And that means you have to change it up every time.”

Despite her claims to the contrary, I am sure that MacLaine could speak a lot about how to be successful in Hollywood, whether she realizes it or not!

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