On The Couch
Saturday Extra; On the couch
17 September 1994
What do you do to feel alive?
I need to constantly remind myself that I’m part of something bigger than just myself. I get bored when I get obsessed with what I’m doing or where I’m going. That’s when I feel half dead. I feel really good when my focus is kind of broader and I’ve got a bigger concept of what it is to be alive. And some of the inferences of my own career and my own self worth diminishes.
You have been acting since you were 13 years old. That sort of makes you an adult throughout puberty, doesn’t it?
I kind of developed a consciousness, probably too early. A consciousness of being in the world and the responsibilities of being in the world. Rather than just having an adolescence which is largely, I think, being completely absorbed in one’s own needs. At 13 and 14, I was hit very, very strongly with a sense of feeling duties as an employee and be responsible and get enough sleep. I was aware of what it was like to be depended upon.
Weren’t your parents concerned about that?
I don’t know. I suppose they were. I didn’t have the maturity to see it.
Many child actors have said they would never allow their children to act.
Yeah, I have mixed feelings about children acting. I think acting can be psychologically damaging. Because you have got to be aware of what you are doing. It can confuse children. I wouldn’t push for my children to get into acting early. I reckon the later, the better.
Start at 40, look at people, look at the world and then decide to be an actor. When you have got something to bring to it. Has it affected you?
I think the only way it has really affected me is that from an early age, people have asked me what it means to be an actor so I have always had to reflect on myself. From really young, I have had an overdeveloped sense of self.
Were you conscious that you were different, special?
Conscious that I was having a life that other kids my age weren’t having. Which I sometimes hated.
Was that because of other people’s jealousy?
I was more jealous of them than they were of me. I always wanted to be part of the gang basically. And I never really was. I could have been but, before I got to be, I was kind of ripped out and thrown into a really bizarre industry. So that was the end of that. I have never been part of a tribe. All my friends are one to one. You can’t have dinner with 12 of your mates because none of them know each other.
I’ve developed close relationships with people who are from all over the spectrum but don’t know anything about each other. That’s to do with a scrappy upbringing, not being in school long enough to establish a tribe.
What is girly about you?
There’s not a lot about me that is really tres, tres femme. I really like make-up, being able to wear a dress when someone tells me. I’m not very feminine. I tend to lean more heavily on the masculine side of myself. It makes me feel more balanced.
What is fame to you?
Extreme fame would be hell to me. Fame to me means everyone else owning and walking around with an image of you in their head. So there are multiple images of you in the world. And then so where does that leave the reality of who you are? How scary to have millions and millions of you being carried around in people’s heads … Some of them are deluded and some of them are 10 years old.
What brings out the immaturity in you?
When I’m happy, when I’m excited, brings out the child in me. Joy. I think the key to staying fresh and young at heart is joy. Joy is basically where the child is for most people. It is for me.
Who were you in a previous life?
I would like to have been Marlon Brando. He might drop off before Saturday. I would like to have been a male movie star in the ’40s. They got the best roles. Nothing’s changed.
Nadine Garner appears in Amadeus at the Atheneum. Bookings: Bass 11500.