Interview Ethics With Angelica Huston

The pop culture site Vulture has published a long and wide-ranging interview with actress Angelica Huston. It’s a great interview from a reader’s point of view, candid, funny, revealing. It is also an interview given either by someone with no ethics alarms at all, or someone so steeped in an unethical culture that she no longer comprehends such concepts as loyalty, fairness, confidentiality, kindness, decency and the Golden Rule. That’s not all: the rationalizations also come thick and fast.

Huston reveals private, unflattering and uncomplimentary facts about friends, relatives, colleagues and ex-lovers, living and dead. The interview could be used in an ethics course to illustrate how you don’t talk about people behind their backs. Here are some of the many points that made me wince…

—On the recently departed Penny Marshall, once a close friend:  “Frankly, she took a lot of coke.”

—Rationalizing Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13-year-old girl: “Well, see, it’s a story that could’ve happened ten years before in England or France or Italy or Spain or Portugal, and no one would’ve heard anything about it. And that’s how these guys enjoy their time. It was a whole playboy movement in France when I was a young girl, 15, 16 years old, doing my first collections. You would go to Régine or Castel in Paris, and the older guys would all hit on you. Any club you cared to mention in Europe. It was de rigueur for most of those guys like Roman who had grown up with the European sensibility…My opinion is: He’s paid his price, and at the time that it happened, [prosecuting someone for that] was kind of unprecedented. This was not an unusual situation.”

—On working with Bill Murray: “He was a shit to me on Life Aquatic. The first week I was there, we were all in this little hotel, and he invited the entire cast to go and have dinner, except me.”

—On actor Ryan O’Neal: “He head-butted me. He took my head in his hands and hit it with full force against his head because he couldn’t find me at a party. He’s a deeply disturbed — or at least was then; I can’t vouch for now, but I think he was — deeply disturbed person…I think you also get the face you deserve. Have you seen [O’Neal’s face] lately?”

—-Knocking Robert De Niro for doing “schlock movies” for the money: “Although, how big can this nut be? I guess he has maybe a couple of ex-wives, right? Not many, but what does this fellow spend his money on? He’s got Nobu. He’s got the Tribeca Film Festival — he’s not spending the film money on that.”

If you can’t say anything nice about someone, it’s best to say nothing at all….


15 thoughts on “Interview Ethics With Angelica Huston

  1. It’s always good to see reinforcement that my man Bill Murray is a good judge of character. One can hardly be sure with movie stars. Playing likable characters and seeming likable when in the public eye can all be part of a deliberate persona. Leaked information about not treating his dinner guests to the presence of a shameless gossip is harder to brush aside.

    • Growing up in the 80’s my first impressions of Bill were tainted by Ghostbusters, What About Bob, and Groundhog Day. Space Jam didn’t help. Lost in Translation left me lost. Last year I saw Meatballs and The Razor’s Edge… both profoundly expanded my opinion of him. It’s like watching Robin Williams in Jakob the Liar.

  2. I just saw this article and thought I’d add my thoughts here. Glad you saw it, too.

    Of all the Roman Polanski rationalizations, I hate the “It’s Europe” excuse the most. The United States is not Europe. This has nothing to do with European attitudes about sex versus American attitudes. The fact that she would call older men hitting on teenage girls perfectly normal and cite the length of time since the incident occurred is ludicrous considering what she later says in the interview about Brett Kavanaugh.

    She calls his testimony “not believable”. I have no doubt she was one of the ones clamoring to deny Kavanaugh the Supreme Court because of a 35-year old accusation of behavior that didn’t even come close to drugging and raping an adolescent girl.

    This is why I don’t look to Hollywood to set standards of behavior.

    • It’s fun to think that her goal was to make us hate Polanski less but she only succeeded in causing us to hate the mid-20th century European elite more (should that actually be possible) – demonstrating the idea that some morals aren’t merely relative even while advocating the opposite. There’s a degree of evil at which one inescapably becomes one’s worst enemy. In a week, they may eat themselves to death.

    • Ugh, “not believable.” What a perfectly awful demonstration of how people talk in the post-Truth era.

      Since Kavanaugh’s testimony comports with every single known fact, and his demeanor was exactly what you’d expect from a decent person facing a false, insane, life-destroying accusation, she can’t mean that there is something objectively not-believable about it.

      Translated from post-modern sleaze to honest English she just means, “I don’t want to believe it.” But she can just transform her ignorant feelings into objective fact, because that’s what we do now.

      • Don’t you mean, “Europeans aren’t prudes about sex like those backwards Americans?” I think that’s what all the cool kids are supposed to say.

  3. A little off topic but I can’t help but think how sad to see these children of Hollywood Royalty defile the memory of their famous parents by pointing out how really ill-bred they are and what poor jobs their parents did at raising them. One only has to look as far as the Fondas, O’Neils, Douglas, Minnelli, Barrymore, and now Houston just to name a few to see the parents were too wrapped up in their careers to raise well-adjusted children to adulthood. All these children may now be adults and stars in their own right, but they still should consider from whence they came and how their behavior reflects on their parent’s memory. Clearly, John should have spent less time in the African jungles and more time at home in Hollywood nurturing his greatest production. Call me old fashioned, but that’s just the way I see it.

    • Oh, I think that’s how everyone who thinks about it sees it, even those who are part of the Hollywood bubble. The life of a professional actor is just not conducive to responsible parenting–that’s why so many of the these people are multi-generational messes.

      • Our toddler is very, VERY cute. Dark features but with eyes that fade from blue to brown. Really well-behaved. Being in California we often hear, “You should get him into modeling or acting!” And I just smile and say “thanks!” Because it’s easier than saying, “But we don’t want him to turn into a neurotic commie sex fiend.”

  4. Yeah, this kind of petty gossip-fest makes me think far less of the writer than anyone they are criticizing. That sounds like she is championing predatory actions that were illegal then, which is mystifying. Why would anyone want to believe them? Silly me thought she as ‘old Hollywood’ enough to be classy- and these excerpts are not classy. (Classy lasts longer than cresting on Twitter for five minutes)

    “Razor’s Edge” was like the second thing I saw Murray in, so I’ve long thought he could do more. (I’d love to hear his reasons about the invite) I’ve long suspected he reached his limit in dealing with people he finds annoying off-stage, and he’s gotten pickier)

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