Actress Mary-Louise Parker visited Chicago recently for Steppenwolf's Fourth Annual Women in the Arts Luncheon at the JW Marriott. The two-time Golden Globe winner was honored with a video career retrospective and questions from Artistic Director Martha Lavey.
Parker's work on Showtime's Weeds has garnered her four of her Golden Globe nominations, six Screen Actors Guild nominations and three Emmy nominations. She took home a Tony for the Broadway play Proof in 2001.
She has starred in unforgettable roles in Red, Fried Green Tomatoes and Bullets over Broadway.
She has been a consistent friend to the gay community with her beginnings in the film Longtime Companion, playing a woman with AIDS in Boys on the Side, and the wife of a closeted lawyer in the HBO adaptation of Angels in America. This added to the surprise that recently she was accused of calling an antique dealer a "fag" in a scuffle. She wanted to set the record straight after the luncheon Nunn on One.
Windy City Times: Hello, Mary. How did you wind up at this luncheon?
Mary-Louise Parker: I don't know. They just asked me. [Steppenwolf ensemble member] K. Todd Freeman is one of my best friends. I just wanted to come with him.
WCT: He is the one that did that touching intro. You have known Steppenwolf actor John Malkovich through past projects, too.
Mary-Louise Parker: Yes, I want to be John Malkovich. I love watching him on set. He helped me shop for dwarf baby goats this past Christmas for my kids on our downtime.
WCT: You have performed in many roles in support of the gay community so I wanted to ask you how you became involved in the first place?
Mary-Louise Parker: Someone asked me once if I had any straight friends! I think it evolved from doing Longtime Companion so I have always been involved, and had a lot of gay friends both male and female. There is a misfit quality to certain generations of homosexuals because you never quite fit in while in high school. I think it will be different now because it is okay. I think in our generation I was a misfit and a wallflower. I always related to the other people that didn't quite fit in or were a little oversensitive. Do you know what I mean?
WCT: Yes, we are the same generation so I do. We appreciate it.
Mary-Louise Parker: Oddly enough, this horrible man accused me of calling him a name. I would never… I was crushed because I feel like almost anyone could have come at me and accused me of something but I thought could they go there? That is the one place I would never go. I hope no one believes that I would do that. The person I went into the shop with was gay, which no one knows.
WCT: Is it okay to tell people that?
Mary-Louise Parker: You can. I just don't want more people to Google it to bring it more attention. The man goes and operates under several names. The issue has always been so close to my heart. All of my gay friends were laughing at it going, "Yeah, right."
WCT: They thought it was ridiculous.
Mary-Louise Parker: It is really upsetting that the people of today can accuse you of anything nowadays and some people are going to believe it because they have a voice to the world.
WCT: At least I can get your side of the word out to the gay community.
Mary-Louise Parker: It just makes me so sad. I was really upset. How could he, of all places, go there with me? The shop owner wanted to sell the tape to TMZ and they wouldn't buy it because there was nothing on it. It just had me walking across the street.
WCT: Why did this happen in the first place?
Mary-Louise Parker: Because he owed my friend, like, $2,000. He bought her vintage purse then sold it, but didn't give the right amount of money. So we went in there together to deal with it and it was my idea to go in there.
WCT: I'm sorry it happened. I wanted to ask you if there are past roles you have turned down that you regretted?
Mary-Louise Parker: Well, I think it's in bad taste to talk about roles that I didn't play but since the actresses have talked about it in the press then I will. I was going to be in Desperate Housewives but I went for Weeds instead. People probably thought I was crazy to pick Showtime because back then they didn't have any big shows. I think they had The L Word around that timenot that there is anything wrong with The L Word.
WCT: It must have been hard to leave Weeds when it was over.
Mary-Louise Parker: We were all crying.
WCT: What are your future projects?
Mary-Louise Parker: I have Red 2 coming out. It is different from the first film, though. They had two different directions with two different directors.
I also have R.I.P.D. with the director of the first Red, Robert Schwentke, coming out as well. I have a lot of fun working with him.
WCT: Do you get to Chicago often?
Mary-Louise Parker: No, hardly ever. It is a cool city, though.