10 Questions With Marcia Gay Harden

The actor opens up about parenting, perfectionism, and her role in 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 10, 2014

1. The world is about to see you in the film version of the best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey. Were you nervous to appear in it?

No. The film raises questions about eroticism and pleasure and things we really don’t talk about. I’m glad we don’t! I don’t want to discuss every single aspect of sexuality over the breakfast table. Yet, there is this fascinating world of what happens in the bedroom when [a couple] takes their journey one step further. And for me, the core of that journey is trust.

2. You play Christian Grey’s mother. Is it a good role?

I represent an extremely important archetype in the film’s explorations of women. My character is the educated working mom, a doctor. I love the examples she sets. I’ve been sending out a series of naughty tweets [in character] addressed to Christian. One of them said: “Just remember that a woman’s greatest sexual organ is her brain. Love, Mama Grey.”

3. Why do you think the book was such a sensation?

This book is written in the style of all great romances. And it’s made furry handcuffs more acceptable.

4. Do you think Hollywood promotes a healthy or unhealthy notion of sex?

I don’t like to make blanket statements about the media. The media is a group of individuals. A bigger issue for me is that young boys are learning about sex from [violent] porn. Boys learn this, girls accept it -- that disturbs me far more than some erotic movie where an actor shows a boob or a butt.

5. You have three kids. What’s your greatest 21st-century parenting challenge?

I’m a single mother. Traditions of family dissipated in divorce. I try to build upon things that keep us connected to history and to stay embedded in great culture with my kids. Sometimes it scares me that those classic, rich tapestries of history -- music and opera and art -- will all be replaced by Tumblr.

6. Many women battle the need to be perfect. Do you?

The hardest thing on a day-to-day basis is to have patience and to choose my battles. The biggest issue is time. I don’t have the time to do everything I want to do or to always be the mother I want to be. What I do is good enough. It’s good enough!

7. What was the best health advice your parents ever gave you?

Whatever rule they gave, I broke. Your parents give you structure -- you tear down the walls. The foundation is what you need. My mother always swam and ate well. Now I swim and eat well. I stay active.

8. How else do you stay fit?

I have no routine. I’m a hot mess! I want to be that girl at yoga, trim and fit, but I’m not. I jog on the beach. I make sure I get at least 10,000 steps every day.

9. What’s your secret indulgence, food or otherwise?

I love juicing. I love ginger. I love cayenne pepper, all that hot stuff.

10. What’s your take on aging?

I’m not against a refresher, here or there. If your eyes are baggy and you want to lift them, fine! But stay looking like yourself. I see a lot of women with intense face-lifts.

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