Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Why Actress Patricia Clarkson Loves Her Life

The Cairo Time star talks about shooting nude scenes, her best and worst health habits, and life as a single, 50-something woman.
By Jenna Bergen
WebMD Magazine
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Award-winning actress Patricia Clarkson has played characters ranging from Elliott Ness's wife in the 1987 The Untouchables to the Vicodin-addicted Aunt Sarah on the HBO series Six Feet Under. A native of New Orleans, she now lives in New York. WebMD the Magazine caught up with her over the summer and asked her about the loves in her life: acting, Manhattan, healthy food, what she describes as some "remarkable" men, and her latest movie.

You've acted in Shutter Island, Vicky Cristina Barcelona,and Six Feet Under. Most recently, you play a magazine editor who flies to Cairo to meet her husband only to fall into a brief love affair with his personal body guard in Cairo Time, by Toronto director Ruba Nadda. As a woman who's never married, how much did you relate to your character?

WebMD the Magazine Now Available Online

The enormous popularity of WebMD the Magazine – previously only read in your doctor's office – is why we're proud to announce the release of WebMD the Magazine Digital Edition.

In each edition, you will get
these features:
  • Expert beauty tips
  • Healthy recipes
  • Celebrity health stories
  • And much more!

I've certainly had extraordinary relationships with remarkable men in my life and I value each and every one of them. But I don't know if I've ever had anything that mirrors the affair in the film. I don't think I've ever fallen for a boyfriend's friend. But, the night is young!

Do you like your character in this film?

Oh, she's a beautiful, lovely character. She's kind of a woman I would like to be. She's very different than I am. She's a very quiet, spare, insular woman and … I'm more gregarious than Juliette. I'm a more demonstrative person. But that's the beauty of this character -- that it's not me. And that's what I love about acting. I like becoming someone else.

You've won dozens of awards, including two Emmys, and you were nominated for an Oscar in 2004. Is acting therapeutic to you?

Absolutely. I mean, it's rigorous. I do a lot of intense, emotional parts, but they are oddly invigorating. [Acting] fills me with great joy and it fills me with great joy to work.

What disease or condition would you most like to see eradicated in your lifetime and why?

Cancer. You can't be alive today and not know somebody who's suffered cancer. And hopefully they've survived it, but lots of people don't. I think it would be a miracle.

What's the one thing concerning your health you wish you'd done as a child?

I probably shouldn't have been in the sun so much as a child. I realize that now. I grew up in New Orleans. I grew up in the water, I went to camp. I never used sunscreen as a child.

What's your best health habit? Your worst?

Eating breakfast religiously. It's so good for the body and I never, ever, ever go without breakfast. Ever. I can't function without breakfast. [It's usually] organic cereals and rice milk. Sometimes oatmeal. [My worst is] French fries. I dip them in mayonnaise. And bourbon! I try to eat and drink both in moderation. But, you know.

Today on WebMD

woman looking in mirror
Article
Woman resting on fitness ball
Evaluator
 
woman collapsed over laundry
Quiz
Public restroom door sign
Slideshow
 
Couple with troubles
Article
Bone density illustration
VIDEO
 
Young woman being vaccinated
Slideshow
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow
 
Blood pressure check
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
intimate couple
Article
puppy eating
Slideshow