I have had a couple of emails from people asking if i could re post ths wonderful BBG interview which was written by James Grissom in 2012 and on the Forum before the crash! so here it is again I love it! Barbara Bel Geddes: Too Far Within Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie the Cat (1955). Barbara Bel Geddes was the single most difficult actress to interview for Follies of God. Bel Geddes was so resistant to being interviewed or talking about her past that she felt compelled to spend hours talking on the phone explaining to me why she hated to comply with writers, and why she hated to discuss acting. When, after months of these phone calls, I told her that we had, in fact, been conducting a rather in-depth interview, she laughed and said "I know. I do this to myself all the time. I analyze and over-explain until I have done precisely what I said I wouldn't do." Bel Geddes was always polite and funny, and she had no reservations about discussing her painting or her cooking or her dreams of writing more books (she was the author of two books geared toward young adults). She adored her family, particularly her father, designer Norman Bel Geddes, and her tight circle of friends. Ultimately, she admitted, she trusted me because of the samples of writing I had sent her and because we shared the same birthday, October 31st. She hated to talk about the theatre or films, and she insisted that if I ever included any of her quotes, they should be just typed out and presented as she said them, without the inclusion of my thoughts or opinions, or any corrections or responses from anyone else. "That," she said, "I could live with." And here are some of them. Bel Geddes photographed by Carl Van Vechten (1955) I was always determined; stubborn. I grew up in what some would call high circumstances: we lived on the East Side, and my parents had money, but I was rebellious and bored with it all. I loved it when my father designed plays, because I was fascinated by actors and directors and all theatre people, but so-called New York society bored me to death. I decided to become an actress very early, and I told my parents. There was some conviction in my family that I should go to 'good' schools and marry a nice guy, but I asked for, and received, my emancipation, and by the time I turned eighteen, I was on Broadway. "I'm difficult to deal with. "I did everything. Everyone should do everything. Stock companies, touring companies, regional theatres (of which there were very few in the early forties), Broadway, radio. Television came into being during that time, and I did that, too. You have to learn and you have to do bad things, I think. You also have to find out if you're one of the bad things. A lot of bad actors with whom I've worked thought they were just swell, and you wonder about perception. You start to look for honest teachers and peers who will tell you when you're rotten or misguided. "I got lucky when I was cast by [Elia] Kazan in Deep Are the Roots, the first play, to my knowledge, to acknowledge the deep racism in the hearts and minds of so-called 'good' American, Christian people. It was 1945 and the war was coming to an end and lovely Gordon Heath played a black, American soldier who returns from war a hero, but in his native South, where his mother was a cleaning lady for a fine, old Southern family, he's just a ni***r. I played a young girl, torn between the traditions of her upbringing and her desire and admiration for this noble, beautiful young man. It wasn't a great play, but it had great timing, and Kazan directed it beautifully. "I want to be clear about something: Kazan drove me insane. I don't mean that he abused me, although at times it might have looked that way. He drove me so deep within myself to make a part and a play real and relevant that I sometimes left rehearsals--and performances--in tears and exhausted. Only Kazan led me to realize how powerful the theatre could be, and how potent and--forgive my dependence on this word--noble the art of acting can be. "He made me address my own racism, which I could not believe resided in the heart of a well-raised girl with smart, so-called liberal parents, but it was there. I analyzed and scrutinized my character so deeply that I knew her better than I knew myself, and I crafted for her a biography that was quite extensive. I was good in that play; I earned the right to call myself an actress. Why? Elia Kazan. He taught me how to act. "Kazan was really brutal to me during Cat [on a Hot Tin Roof]. I don't think anyone saw me as Maggie the Cat. Certainly, Roger Stevens didn't: he always looked at me as if I were a rash that just wouldn't clear up quickly enough. Everyone saw Maggie as beautiful and slinky and seductive, and I'm a bit of dumpling, well-meaning, the girl you marry but begrudgingly f***. I get it. That's me. I can live with that--and have. Kazan, however, told me I was attractive, maternal, and he could see why Brick, a homosexual who marries only to quiet the family, would find me amenable. Kazan also knew that I had been a very fat child and fought my weight at all times. Kazan told me that he had known many former fat girls who had grown into beauties, and no matter how they looked in photographs and no matter how many beaux they gained, they still thought of themselves as fat and ungainly and unloved. 'Use that,' he told me, and again, I was a mess, because not only was I the fat girl, but I was the woman who was married to a gay man who hated her; who was fighting an avaricious and brilliantly manipulative family; who was determined never to be poor again; who was really fighting for her life. Kazan made me really live inside this woman's pathological fear, and it drove me crazy, but it also drove me to a good performance. "[Cat] is really a grand opera, I think. All the characters have their arias, and the notes are all very high and extreme. It's also exhausting, in the best sense of the word. You get fully used up in a play like that, with a director like that. "Tennessee was always very dear to me: He insisted that he could see me as Maggie, and he always told me that he thought I was a good actress. I know that Tennessee told everyone this, but I needed the compliment, and I took it, and I treasured it." "I was in the presence, I think, of two great directors: Elia Kazan and Alfred Hitchcock. Those men not only knew their craft, but they could convey it to everyone working with them so that we all became artists, crafts people of the highest caliber. Both men were very intelligent and intuitive and abrupt: They told you how to do it in a few words and made sure you were protected as you did it. And they were never wrong. The Hitchcock things I did [Vertigo and Lamb to the Slaughter, a Roald Dahl story adapted for his television program] and Cat and now Dallas, will be the things for which I'm remembered, but the work I did for Kazan and Hitchcock were when I was good, when I mattered.