Susan Tyrrell Told Me: “I’m Basically A C-Word”


I just found the very first interview I did with late, great actress Susan Tyrrell.

It was in 1981, for Soho Weekly News (two years before the Details one I’ve been running excerpts from.)

Tyrrell had just gone into the off-Broadway play A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking. She spoke of the play with her usual fiery candor, and as a result, all her other interviews promoting the show were promptly canceled. Well, I’m thrilled I got this one.

Some highlights:

*”I’ve become incredibly antisocial. I spend all my time alone. I have this one friend who comes around. I think I have two friends in L.A., last time I looked. I’m disillusioned with the whole fuckin’ world. I’m having my tubes tied next week. I just want to ensure that no actors come out of me.”

*”To me, this play is sitcom. This is as close to TV as I think I’ll ever get. It’s exhausting. I’m the lay-in-bed-and-eat-bonbons type. It hurts. I start to resent the theater because it breaks into my sleeping time. It cramps my style. At least on a bad movie you make a hell of a lot of money and it’s very fast, and you’ve got a handsome crew to play with.”

*”I hate success. I have the ambition of a slug. I work when I need the money, which is about once a year. Success freaks me out. If it wasn’t for that, I’d like to work more, but the more successful you are, the more crap you’re offered. So it seems like the less I work, the more I get the special things. Most of the people that are successful really suck to me. I don’t think success is a judge of talent at all, not these days.”

*She liked White Chicks‘ director Dorothy Lyman, but otherwise hated women directors.

“They all suck. They all belong in the kitchen. These lousy women directors want me to have my period on stage and bleed and gush and just bleah, you know? So of course you’re gonna get bad reviews. You’re trying to serve a director and a playwright, with the director’s lousy ideas and the playwright’s lousy ideas, so I’ve learned to just do it for myself and hope and pray that I find some people with some taste along the way.”

*”I don’t win personality contests. I’m an actor, and who I am offstage is nobody’s business. I don’t get jobs over the desk. Maybe under the desk.”

*Andy Warhol‘s Bad was “one of my favorite movies, even though I looked like dogshit in it.” About Tom Waits, she said, “You can’t even hear what he’s saying anymore. It’s like flushing a toilet.” As for Edward Albee, when Susan tried out for the mother in the Broadway version of Lolita, Albee came up to the stage and asked her if she could try being “a little less low.” She said no.

*Susan told me about her group, Bertha DaBlues and the Hard Livers, which was all set to sing songs she wrote like “Eat Me at Eight,” “Smegma Skies,” and “But The Pussy Purrs On.” But two of the Hard Livers lived a little too hard and ended up in jail, so the act was put on hold.

*And finally: “I either have lots of money or I’m penniless. I’m basically a cunt either way, so it doesn’t mean much to my friends.”

Archive Highlights