The 5-Minute Interview: Mary Steenburgen, Actress

'I only agonised about age when I was younger'
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The Independent Online

Mary Steenburgen, 54, stars in Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School, available on DVD.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Driving on the Pacific Coast highway to my daughter's house to help her unpack boxes at her new apartment.

I wish that people would take more notice of ...

Global warming because I'm married to one of our country's biggest environmentalists. Years ago he started an organisation that is an ocean advocacy group now called Oceana.

The most surprising thing to happen to me was ...

Falling in love with someone I wouldn't have pictured myself with. I watched my husband [the actor Ted Danson] as Sam Malone in Cheers for years, but I thought he was the opposite of my type. When I was going to be doing a film with him as the leading man I wasn't excited.

A common misperception of me is ...

I'm nicer than I am. Like most people I have a dark side, but because of roles I played early on people tend not to guess that.

I'm not a politician but ...

I would like for one of my oldest and best friends to be elected President - Hillary Clinton. I'd love to feel my country had the world point of view it had years ago.

I'm good at ...

Living life to the fullest in terms of loving very deeply and spending a large part of my time being creative. I had a sense of mortality since I was a little girl which has to do with my father who nearly died eight times in my childhood. He had eight heart attacks.

But I'm very bad at ...

Small talk. I panic at parties. I don't like talking absolutely nothing and pretending, so I'm quite odd socially.

The ideal night out is ...

Going out for a fabulous dinner with my entire family and no one else. We have four kids [aged 22 to 27] and we spend the whole night laughing.

In moments of weakness I...

Play video games. Wii on Nintendo is amazing.

You know me as an actor, but in a truer life I'd have ...

Done something involved with the arts. I love to paint. And I have another profession - an interior design business.

The best age to be is...

The age I am. I had dinner last night with one of my best friends, the actress Laura Dern. We were talking about ageing in our business which is cruel to be in for women over 30. I was telling her I'm astonished by how, since I turned 50, I don't agonise privately about this at all. I did when I was younger. There's a certain freedom that comes when people don't expect you to be sexy.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

That life keeps teaching me how little I actually know. I used to think I was going to die wise, and now the one wisdom I have is I know very little.

Elisa Bray

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