Acting once 'dreaded' by 'In Plain Sight's' Warren
By Luaine Lee
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
STUDIO CITY, Calif. — Lesley Ann Warren is one actress who managed to work under Hollywood's defunct studio system and is still emoting on its sound stages. When others have buckled under the massive changes, Warren just keeps on trucking.
"It's so different," she says. "The whole process of filmmaking, the process of getting the job, of creating the character with the care and intention of the producers who were also so creative, everything is so different. Having come from there and lasting this long, it's a difficult transition."
The pale and fragile-looking Warren is costarring in USA's "In Plain Sight," with Mary McCormack. Warren plays McCormack's child-like mother, who requires almost as much attention as the charges in the witness-protection program which McCormack's character oversees.
The one-time "Cinderella" and Jim Garner's sexy moll in "Victoria Victoria," Warren fell in love with performing when she lost her first tooth. And she's still mad about the game. The star of such films as "Choose Me," "Clue" and series like "Desperate Housewives," "Mission Impossible" and "Pearl" admits that for a while the passion faded.
"It's what I've done since I was 17. I have to admit I'm 100 percent less enamored with the business. I did this miniseries about 12 years ago. Prior to that I went through a six-year period where I'd lost every ounce of love for acting and the whole business. I dreaded it and was completely uninspired. The business itself had taken the life blood out of me," says Warren.
"Then I did this miniseries with Ben Kingsley in Morocco ('Joseph'). I played his wife. And he was so in love with acting, he was so passionate about acting that I remembered what it was I loved about acting. I was able to return to the work with a newfound memory experience of what it was I'd wanted to do when I started."
Warren was driven as a child. She pushed herself into ballet at 6. "It was a lifeline for me," she says. "It had so many other factors except ballet itself as a possible career. It created a structure for me, and it created a place that was very safe, and I knew what was expected of me. It was a loving environment for me. I was very disciplined."
She was 17 when she appeared on television as "Cinderella" and 21 when she married former hairdresser Jon Peters, who became a big-time movie producer. They had a son and divorced seven years later.
After the divorce she says she fell into a funk. "It wasn't about work. It was a spiritual or emotional bankruptcy that had to be filled by life's lessons that I had to learn that kept me in situations that were not good for me, people that were not good for me, wanting career to fill up places inside of me that it couldn't. I had a lot to learn and re-learn. ..."
Part of what sustains her now is her 10-year marriage to marketing and branding agent Ronald Taft — as well as Chinese medicine, acupuncture and homeopathy. "That's been very powerful for me," she says. "I'm also a very spiritual person. I do believe in God, in a higher power."
Her son, Christopher, works at the Sunset Gower Studios, procuring producers to shoot there.
"I warned him about working in the business," she says. "It's in his blood, I suppose."
As for Warren, her disenchantment with La-La Land hasn't stopped her. "I don't think I'm tough in the ways that people generally consider tough. I don't have a tough demeanor, I don't walk in the world in that way. ... But what I know about myself, the older I get the more I know about myself.
"Chinese medicine — which is what I do — they call it having 'Shem' which means a big heart like a warrior. I have a strong, strong spirit. Even though I go to dark, shadowy kinds of places, my spirit is such that I come out of that with a larger, more comprehensive view of life and myself. That allows me to continue and carry on."