Here’s another inspiring interview from Marg that recently appeared on spryliving.com:
June 1, 2014
by Paulette Cohn
It’s been three decades since Marg Helgenberger landed her first TV gig, on the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, and she’s worked steadily ever since, on series such as China Beach, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the CBS drama Intelligence. Like all long acting careers, it’s had ups and downs. But the 55-year- old actress says age has definitely brought perspective.
“I remember losing out on roles that were written for women in their 30s to women in their 20s—which is out of my control, but it used to bother me,” she says. “Now I wouldn’t really care. I know something better will come along.”
The native Nebraskan reveals other advantages of having a few more years behind her, how losing her father to multiple sclerosis (MS) gave her a mission and the ways Hollywood has changed since her soap opera days.
There seem to be more great TV roles for women nowadays. Is that a change since your career began in the ’80s?
My experience in television has always been positive—I’ve played a variety of strong and unique roles. What’s changed more is the film business, which makes fewer female-driven films. I think that’s why more traditional film actresses are coming to television. It’s rare for women to find a good film role after age 40.
At 55, do you still feel pressure to look a certain way in order to get work?
In some ways, I feel less pressure than I used to. I felt it in my 30s because that’s a crucial decade for women in the film business. But I’m much more comfortable with myself now. It’s about accepting who you are. I don’t think that means giving up. Acceptance means acknowledging what is, and what goals you have, and taking the necessary steps to achieve those goals.
What’s your key to maintaining good health?
Being disciplined, which most successful actors are, because we have to be in front of a camera. I don’t eat dairy or a lot of processed foods or much dessert. But French fries are my weakness. I do think a buddy system is very helpful for people who are just starting to maintain some sort of a diet or exercise program. A great fitness class and instructor can be really inspirational.
How did you get involved with advocating for multiple sclerosis research?
My dad died of complications from MS when he was quite young—age 50. He had progressive MS, which is tricky, and there were very few medications he could take back then. Mostly, they would just shoot him up with cortisone and hope for the best. Now, there are a lot more medications. People’s lives are extended and dramatically improved—the funding and research pays off. So I’ve recently gotten involved with Race to Erase MS, a Los Angeles-based foundation. It’s been very successful in getting doctors from all over the country to share their research and ideas.
And your mother is a longtime breast cancer survivor.
Yes, it was one right after the other: My mother got breast cancer, then my father got MS when she was still in recovery. I was in college. It was devastating. But they’ve made so many advances in breast cancer research, too. Every year, I do something for that cause, like the Revlon or Susan G. Komen walks.
Any advice for caregivers?
I think it is important that it becomes a family affair. Hopefully, if there is more than one child in the family, everyone can get involved. If not, reach out to volunteers in the community. It’s very challenging to do it alone.
Barrington Stage Company kicks off its 20th season with a deft and provocative family drama imbued with psychological mystery. Sharr White’s highly literate and timely family play, which was first produced four years ago, keeps its audience on its toes, undermining our assumptions almost as soon as we make them.
I always wonder how a contemporary play finds a theater. Actor and Barrington Stage Associate Artist Christopher Innvar tells us in his director’s note: he was cast in a Manhattan Theater Club production of White’s The Snow Geese in New York and was so taken by the playwright’s sensibility that he chose to direct another of his plays in Pittsfield.
It’s easy to see why. The Other Place revolves around a deep crisis in the lives of a couple of stellar professionals: Ian, a middle-aged oncologist, and Juliana, his 52-year-old wife, a research scientist. The play begins with her monologue — pitching a drug Juliana’s lab has developed — at a mostly male medical conference in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Brilliant, hard-edged, a chic professional, she lectures on her research with practiced ease, showing a series of slides, describing the way her drug interacts with the molecular structures diagrammed, and interjecting personal asides to her two audiences: the assembled neurologists and us.
A stark, single set facilitates quick transitions: the action moves from a contemporary living room to a doctor’s office and then a beach house. We slowly realize that these scenes may be flashbacks, flash forwards or Juliana’s fantasies about her marriage, her possible illness, her estranged daughter and son-in-law, and The Other Place, the house where her family summered when she was young and which she has inherited.
Between Juliana’s imperious commands to the slide technician, “NEXT!” we learn bits and pieces of the crises that drive the play. Like the English professor protagonist of Margaret Edson’s powerful drama Wit, Juliana is a fiercely independent academic who can turn on a dime from gracious woman to sarcastic bitch. Like Edson’s Vivian Bearing, she’s a control freak who suddenly finds herself having an inexplicable episode of memory loss. She’s suddenly out of control, suspicious, angry, confused, dependent on the kindness of both family and strangers. It’s a role to die for, and Marg Helgenberger fully inhabits Juliana’s many wildly fluctuating emotional states.
To read the complete review, please visit artsfuse.org.
The Emmy Award winning actress, Marg Helgenberger could not have picked a better role for her return to the stage. She is a no-nonsense actor who is not prone to histrionics or showiness. Her matter-of-fact demeaner has served her well on television and in film, and it provides a solid base for this theatre project. Turns out that her character Juliana in Sharr White’s THE OTHER PLACE is also strong willed,, a successful scientist who is firmly in control of her life, her career and her emotions. But when her mind begins to misfire, the signs are subtle and, using her intellect, she concludes that she must have brain cancer. It runs in her family, she says.
Thus begins this personal puzzle play which given the intimacy between the audience and the actors on the St. Germain Stage, expands to envelop actors and audience into an intellectual embrace. You can see every blink, every wrinkle of the brow of the actors on stage and hear even their most secretive whispers and asides, and as the Barrington Stage opener unfolds, we find that the transformation taking place on stage does not reveal its secrets easily. We lean in closer, the better to study Marg Helgenberger’s creation of a great mind disintegrating. She has an up-close style of acting that illuminates the smallish space as her journey takes its many twists and turns.
To read this complete review, please visit www.broadwayworld.com.
Yesterday Barrington Stage Company posted a slide show of photos from “The Other Place” on their Facebook page. Click the photo below to be taken to the slideshow to view the full-sized images. There are 13 beautiful photos in all, all taken by Kevin Sprague Photography. Thanks so much, Barrington Stage Company!