Venice Interview: Linda McCartney is on the right Frequency

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Linda McCartney is on the right Frequency


They say that the true test of a great actor is whether he or she can stand the test of time, giving an equally impressive performance when they’re old and winkled, as when they’re young and beautiful, Elizabeth Mitchell must be relieved because she’s passed the test with flying colors at a very young age.

In the New Line Cinema release, Frequency, Elizabeth plays Julia Sullivan, wife of fire-fighter Frank (Dennis Quaid) and mother to John (played as an adult by James Caviezel). During the course of the film – a supernatural thriller that covers 30 years – Elizabeth goes from a beautiful young mother to a still-spry senior citizen, and plays both with equal aplomb. Pretty heady stuff for the eldest daughter (of three) of two lawyers who was born in Dallas.

“I’ve wanted to be an actress as far back as I can remember,” Elizabeth admits. “I worked at the Dallas Theater Center for six years, starting when I was 13, then taught kids there when I got older.”

Elizabeth went on to earn a BFA degree in Acting from Stephens College, in Colombia, Missouri.

After Academy, which, she tells “was an amazing experience. We studied Shakespeare, Chekov – I went to theater practically every night. If you’re a student there you can see all the shows on the West End for practically nothing.” A few of Elizabeth’s stage credits include productions of “As You Like It,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Three Sisters,” “Measure for Measure,” and “Chicago,” among many others.

“I had a lot of amazing teachers, and I think ‘Three Sisters’ had the biggest effect of me personally, I played all three sisters,” she says, then a beat, “Not all at once, of course,” ending her sentence with a heavy laugh. After finishing her studies in London, Elizabeth returned to Dallas, where she had hoped to stay. “They had so many amazing theater groups in Dallas when I was there as a kind, but when I got back from London, they were all gone!”

Disappointed, but undaunted, Elizabeth followed the path of all aspiring thespians and went to New York.

After doing many off-Broadway plays, Elizabeth booked a role on the daytime soap “Loving.” “It wasn’t a very fun experience.” she remembers. “I was a ghastly soap actress. I really couldn’t have been worse. It was a nightmare.” Her big break came when she understudies one of the leads in the hit play “Three Tall Women.”

When the show hit the road, Elizabeth joined the cast, and travelled with them to Los Angeles, where she stayed.

It wasn’t long before Elizabeth got another break, being cast in the TV series “L.A. Firefighters.” When asked if she’s concerned about being typecast as a firefighter’s wife, Elizabeth laughs. “Ask me about playing nurses, too. It seems like I’ve played dozens.” Even though the series lasted only one season, Elizabeth found that she loved living in Southern California.

“I was lucky in that when I moved out her, so did all my from New York. I don’t understand why people criticise L.A. saying it has no literature, no discussion, no intelligence. I’ve found that to be so untrue. There’s an amazing amount of music, art – you just have to find it.”

Elizabeth first grabbed the attention of many people with her work in the award-winning HBO movie “Gia,” starring Angelina Jolie as 80s supermodel Gia Carangi, a tragic figure who self-destructed in a haze of alcohol, drug abuse, and finally her death from AIDS. Elizabeth played Linda, Gia’s sometimes-reluctant lover, “Had it been anyone else but Angelina, it would have been a very difficult part to play. My role basically required me to react to her. Angie is so brilliant that it made my job really easy. She’s a real powerhouse.”

Elizabeth’s next film is “Linda McCartney,” a biopic on the late wife of former Beatle and rock music icon Paul McCartney. The CBS telefilm airs May 21.

Elizabeth found McCartney’s photographs a great source of research for insight into her character. “The first thing I guess I’d have to say about Linda is that she was an amazing mother, just so kind and loving, and brave. She had so much thrown at her early on when she married Paul. It would have been very easy for her to have become vindictive and thrown it back at people. But she never did. Instead of getting bitter about it she just helped people more and became more lovely, really. Rebels know who they are and they keep going, and when they do, people eventually accept them.”

As far as Frequency goes, Elizabeth has nothing but praise for co-stars Quaid and Caviezel, “Jim is so intuitive and so smart, a real watcher of people. It’s very easy to be put of by how beautiful he is at first, but once you see what’s behind that, it’s so easy to just fall in love with him. It was very easy playing his mother, because if I ever raised a son that well, I’d be really proud.”

Fellow Texan Dennis Quaid was equally fun to work with. “Dennis isn’t the kind of man who likes to be watched. He’s the kind of man who lets everyone know that he think they’re interesting. I go meet his wife (Meg Ryan) at the premiere, and she was exactly the same way. everyone she met she was very interested in and very loving, so I guess they’re just that way. They’re a golden couple for the right reasons.”

When asked if it was hard playing young and old in Frequency, Elizabeth again answers with a laugh. “On the one hand I guess it was, but I’m lucky enough to have some very strong, wonderful women in my life and it was a pleasure to kind of put their shoes on for a bit. My grandmother was doing front and back kicks until she was 65,” Elizabeth exclaims. “She wore red lip-stick and white hair, threw parties and drank scotch. As my grandmother said, when a young man walks down the street at 18 and an old man walks down the street at 75, I said ‘Oh, what a nice looking older man!’ My grandmother said, ‘Oh, honey, I can look at both of them!”‘