Angela Lansbury recorded an interview in 2010 with explicit instructions it was not to be released until she died. Here’s what she said.
Angela Lansbury’s legacy lives on.
The legendary actress died on Oct. 11 at age 96. But, in 2010, she sat down with the New York Times for what she intended to be her final interview. “She spoke with us with the understanding the interview would be published only after her death,” the NYT tweeted Oct. 11. Twelve years later, per her wishes, the outlet has released the video.
In it, the six-time Tony winner admitted, “I was too good of an actress. I was primarily an actress and not a pretty face.”
In the end, the legacy Lansbury wanted to leave is simple. “Through my acting I hope enabled people to get out of their own lives and be transported into other areas of life that they otherwise would never have,” she said. “Life is so hard for so many people.”
While she is best known for her role as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury had a career that spanned seven decades and went from silver screen to stage to television. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her roles in 1944’s Gaslight and in 1946 for The Picture of Dorian Grey.
She lost the trophy both times, but saw the bright side in her last interview: “Owning an Academy Award too early is a deterrent because you don’t know what to do next.”
As for one of the “great, great roles” of her career, Lansbury cited Mrs. Iselin in 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate. Directed by John Frankenheimer, Lansbury said he was passionate about making her character the essence of evil: “I’m forever grateful I got the chance to do it.”
From there, she went to Broadway in 1966 and took on the lead role in Mame, and earned her the first of her six Tony Awards. “I had to take on a mantle of stardom,” she said of the success of the play. “It was all about glamour and glamour was not something I had allowed myself to be associated with.”
Lansbury always considered herself to be a character actress. The role of her lifetime came in 1983 when she was cast as Jessica Fletcher, a retired schoolteacher turned detective novelist who also solved murders in Murder, She Wrote. “Jessica Fletcher is about as close to the sort of woman I might have been,” she said, “had I not been an actress.”
“She noticed things,” Lansbury said. “She had an ability to pick up on little bits and pieces that allowed her to solve a crime.” Over the years, she also resisted the idea that Jessica should find love, saying, “I felt it would destroy the mystique of Jessica.”
Watch the full video above.