Marcia Gay Harden, 58, Los Angeles
Actor, author, mother of three
1. Your new memoir, The Seasons of My Mother, celebrates your mom, Beverly, who battles Alzheimer’s disease.
People with Alzheimer’s have lived incredibly rich, full, determined, loving lives, and their legacy is lost to their disease. I want my mother to be remembered for the beauty she brought to our family and the change she made in the world. It’s a tribute to her.
2. Does your mom, who’s now 80, still have bouts of recognition and memory?
Brief bouts. Sometimes she’s nonsensical, other times there’s such a startling clarity. Before I enter the room her caregivers say: "Look who it is! It’s Marcia Gay!" Then I’ll hear, "Your daughter." So I know she’s asked, "Who?" There are no hurt feelings; it’s about making sure she’s OK.
3. She has early onset Alzheimer’s, which has a genetic component. Do you worry about getting it?
I plan to get tested. What was hard with Mom is she hadn’t put things in place. There was no formal sit-down early on to say, "This is what I want." Suddenly everyone’s juggling to figure out the best course for her. It’s a family disease and can devastate a whole family. Thankfully, we have a strong unit.
4. You describe your mother’s love for the Japanese art of floral arrangement called ikebana. What’s your passion?
I do pottery. Lately, I, too, have taken up ikebana. It astonishes me how I can come up with something beautiful following its principles. And I love, love, love to read.
5. In 2011 you went through a divorce that broke your heart. How’s your heart now?
When I divorced, I went still for a while. Now, it’s time for me. I haven’t met anybody, but I’m in a really good place. It’s not about replacing a picture I had before. It’s about creating something new.
6. Which brings us to sex -- and 50 Shades Freed, the third installment of the movie series. Do these characters possibly need further freeing?!
His love is freed! And now they are free to love each other and have all kinds of sexual escapades that come from love. It’s a sexy action movie and a fun ride!
7. Code Black: Is it tough to make those ER scenes look so real, and work with eternally handsome Rob Lowe?
We do a medical boot camp every year. By the third [season] I was like, "I can do a thoracotomy, thanks!" And Rob is so irritating because he’s so beautiful. But he’s an adept and thoughtful actor. I love him.
8. What’s the current landscape like in Hollywood for women older than 40?
More opportunity. In the past 15 years, the crossover for actors is far more seamless than it used to be. You can go from a commercial to a TV show to a film to theater -- and even write a book!
9. What’s the best and worst part about being 58?
The best part is the contentedness. I can be in the kitchen making something with my kids, and I realize everything I need is around me, and it’s beautiful. Worst is the slowing down. I don’t want to slow down, ever!
10. On that note, are you still doing your 10,000 steps every day?
I’m trying! I got back on the treadmill this past January after cracking a rib, which is finally getting better.