by Chris Harnick | Tue., Apr. 29, 2014 6:00 AM
Shirley MacLaine is feeling Glee-ful. That is when she has a moment to catch her breath on the fast-paced set Glee.
The Oscar winner makes a rare small screen appearance in the Tuesday, April 29 episode of the Fox dramedy as June Dolloway, a rich socialite with an eye for talent. She befriends Blaine (Darren Criss) and sets out to nurture the young performer. And she'll be back!
"She's wonderfully dramatic, funny, can be hard honest, and she's a tastemaker," MacLaine told E! News of her Glee character. "Her reputation is based completely on how she finds talent and she's right about it…she's flamboyant, and by the way, has a great wardrobe. That's another good reason why I did it."
MacLaine said she and her character are a bit alike. "I appreciate those aspects of her, yeah definitely," she said. "I think I would be a little bit more understanding of some of the problems that they young people go through in relation to wanting to be there for each other. She likes to say, ‘No, you're the star. You're not.' I could never do that."
MacLaine's TV appearances include a recent guest turn on Downton Abbey and not much else in terms of episodic TV. We got the lowdown from the living legend about what lead her to the fast-paced world of Glee.
Why did you agree to the Glee role?
I felt like getting up and kicking my heels, singing. Putting movement to notes of music and just the whole feeling of all that mixture again because it was my whole life up until about 10 years ago. AndI haven't done anything in 10 years and I thought it'd be interesting to go back and do it with no time at all to rehearse.
Was that difficult or more fun for you?
Oh sure—no, difficult is never all that much fun for me. I got over that when I was about 20. So, it's an experience about coordination and an experience about how technologized everybody has become. Everything is technology. Talent is technology. The double T's I call it.
What was the most fun about being on Glee?
Well, I'm in the middle of it. I've still got another thing to do. The most fun is feeling you did it right. But that's my background. That's my experience with [Bob] Fosse and Hal Prince and all the great choreographers I've worked with and so forth. You feel good when you do it right. Kind of a paltry definition, but there it is.
Did the cast come to you for stories about your career?
There's no time! They don't even have time to have a dinner, but they'd love to. And in between stuff a little bit, yeah. They all want to hear about everything. A lot of them want to hear about my books, metaphysics and stuff. They're very interested in that.
Has Ryan Murphy asked you to do his other show, American Horror Story?
Would you ever do it? Have you ever seen it?
I haven't seen it, but I don't want to go back to the mood in New Orleans, so I'm not sure about that. He's very talented though, he really has some stuff.
When you did Downton Abbey you spoke about the energy on set there, what was it like on Glee?
[Laughs.] I don't have a definition for that kind of hilarity. [Laughs.] That's funny, by the way.
What are the biggest differences between the two?
Downton Abbey is more the rhythm of life; the rhythm of what would this this character do, the rhythm of taking the time that creativity requires. Glee is not like that. Glee is an adjustment to the talent of technology.
Did you ever encounter anybody like your Glee character when you were coming up? Did you base this character on anybody?
No, I didn't. It's just probably a little bit of how I would do it myself, you know? She's had three husbands and lived all over the world and has plenty of money and just loves talented people. And, by the way, can't stop singing at her own showcases for other people. She gets up and does stuff herself because she's a frustrated performer.
What are you performing?
Next week we shoot a song from Pippin. God, there are so many songs in the show I don't know what else or how it all fits. I have no idea how it fits.
Had you watched Glee?
It's a long time five years, in and out, back and forth, yeah. Very admiring of this talent. I cannot tell you. They are extraordinary. And their health and their well-being and their work ethic is extraordinary...I just want to make sure I get the wardrobe.
Are you eying anything?
All of it!
You should have had that written into your contract.
I thought I did. Who knows, I don't read those things anymore…You know, Bob [Blackman] the wardrobe guy needs to get some credit here because he does one hell of a job with no time either.
Yeah, their clothes are amazing.
A-f---ing-mazing. They really are. And he's one of the old school. I don't know how he keeps up with it. I think it keeps him young. I had that kind of going in my head too, "Maybe I should do more, it keeps me young."
Glee airs Tuesdays, 8 p.m. on Fox.
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