fbpx
GET ACCESS

GET ACCESS: MARLEE MATLIN

Karl Schmid speaks with Actor, Author, and Activist Marlee Matlin about her new movie CODA, now on Apple+.

The following is a transcript of the conversation between Karl Schmid and Actor, Author, and Activist, Marlee Matlin

KARL

It is so nice to sit down and have this conversation with you. I’ve got several things to say congratulations on. First, the new show that has just been announced. But I wanna talk about your latest role in “CODA” and diversity in Hollywood. The critics of buzzing about “CODA.” What do you make of not only the films reviews, but the award season chatter already?

MARLEE

I’m already thinking about what to wear tomorrow. I’m not gonna think about what I’m gonna wear, at the Oscars or anything like that. No, in all honesty, it’s really nice to hear that there is buzz everywhere. And I would hope that people watch the film and we’ll spread the word to everyone to go see the movie in theaters or watch it on apple TV. But yeah, I’m excited. I’m excited for everybody to see the film and I’m counting the days till it opens.

KARL

Yeah we look forward to seeing it. You know, we talk a lot about diversity and inclusion, especially in Hollywood these days. I know you guys had success earlier on in the year with the nomination for “Feeling Through” which my friend Lewis was also a producer on. So congratulations on that. But I is the needle moving in the right direction and quick enough?

MARLEE

It is. But I think we have to get the right people on board who can jump on board and make the needle move even further. I think that we need to throw it out there and have everybody jump in. And make more movies, create more product that’s, I mean, we need, we have every right to tell our stories, just like anybody else in Hollywood. And I think that’s what movies are for to entertain and to tell diverse stories. But in terms of representation and the deaf and disabled communities, I think we have still seem not enough. It’s growing. I think we’re making some progress. I’m seeing it. And that excites me. So perhaps it is. Yes, we’ll see.

KARL

Well, and as I said, progress, a new show just announced. Tell us about this new series, that’s coming to television.

MARLEE

It’s a workplace comedy that I, you know, I had been thinking about for the longest time where we could fit into the, the landscape of comedies finding the right people who get it. And we weren’t afraid to develop a story like the one we’ve developed and to put it out there. So fortunately, NBC just decided to take our bait. It’s, I mean, if you don’t know me in real life, you probably would know that I am in love shows that are very quirky and humorous. I’ve have a crazy sense of humor. And it’s very odd if you wanna put it that way. And so, yeah, this is a show that encompasses all that. It just, it’s how it works on so many levels for me.

KARL

And it’s fantastic. When it comes to casting productions like this, obviously you’re an executive producer on this. But are you there in the room to make sure as we talk about representation. I mean, obviously we all know you from your work. But as we’ve seen in other projects that you’ve done, as I mentioned earlier, “Feeling Through” from earlier on in the year. There are so many talented people out there that probably think they’re never gonna look at me. How do you make sure those people are getting in the room in front of people like yourself and the network brass? Who put these things on air?

MARLEE

You don’t sit back and wait and say, what time is this gonna happen? Or when you know? You have to do it, you have to put it out there. You have to say, where can we find for… I’m never, ever gonna sit back. I never let anything get past me. I always make sure. I mean, I’m thinking about so many actors, I’m already thinking about so many stories, I’m already thinking about casting directors, and I’m thinking about deaf writers, and I’m thinking about so many in so many ways about how we are gonna do this. And things that I might not have been able to do in the past. And so now I don’t need to get permission from anybody. I don’t need to ask, is this okay? I’m gonna do it and do it the way I wanna do it. The way that Hollywood has been doing it for everybody else. And maybe even more.

KARL

When did you find this passion within you? When did you find this determination to do exactly what you’ve said? When, when was it that you went, that’s it, do you remember that moment?

MARLEE

Two months, when I was 11. It really hit me that I was a person who was deaf. I’m gonna be deaf for the rest of my life. Okay I dealt with that. It was a strange moment. I think I remember very clearly when I was 11. I said to myself, okay, well, this is who I am nothing’s gonna change, and I’m gonna write a book someday in the future telling the world that it’s okay to be deaf. And the second moment, and I guess I’m so fortunate to have had this moment in my life is the relationship, the friendship that I had with Henry Winkler when I was 12 years old. And he said to me, never let anyone or anything get in the way of your dreams.

KARL

I love that. And you know, it, you know, in the sense that I sort of feel the same way as someone living with HIV. You know, when I got that diagnosis, I had exactly that same thought process. I can’t change this. This is the way it’s gonna be. So watch out world, what are we gonna do, right?

MARLEE

Exactly, you hit it right on the nose. It’s what makes us strong, you know, when we can set our minds to something, that’s what makes us strong. Particularly for people who aren’t able to accept what they have or who they are. And they can look at us and say, oh, okay, it’s okay to embrace who you are. It’s all right. And know that life has so many chapters in store for all of us and whatever makes you happy is something you should pursue.

KARL

How do you pick yourself up though? When you get down, we all get down. How do you turn things around for yourself? What’s your way of picking yourself up when you’re feeling a bit crummy and like, ah, I just can’t be bothered?

MARLEE

I know that’s,

KARL

Me too, that’s why the camera only shows me from this height. I love that.

MARLEE

And in, in reality, I talk to my girlfriends. I keep in touch with them pretty frequently. And they’re both in Chicago and I have another girlfriend in New York and we reach out to each other or anyone who is actually willing to, you know, make me laugh. I, or anyone who’s listening to me or, you know, talk to me without judging what I might have to say or what I have depressed about whatever it may be. That’s basically how I work it.

KARL

Yeah, great advice. And obviously 1987, I see there over your shoulder, you’ve got your buddy there, still shining nice and golden Oscar. You won best actress for leading role of your work at “Children of a Lesser God.” Do you remember that moment? And that moment, I mean, how could you forget that moment? When they call your name and you, you get to take that. For all that you accomplished, what was it like?

MARLEE

First of all, I’ll never forget the journey of getting to the Oscar moment of how it ended up. I mean, how I got cast, how my mother was standing with her address on her hand ready to call every single person that she new when I got cast in the movie. To the point where I get fitted for my dress to coming to the set, my first Per diem. The money that I got to spend going on set, meeting the crew, meeting the cast, working with the director, all the things that were so new in my first film ever to see how movies are made and then realizing, oh, okay, it’s a group effort. We work together to make a movie, it’s just not one person. And look, I listen. I still remember to this day, every single day, when I watched “Children of a Lesser God.” Each and every scene, I remember exactly what happened before the camera rolled. And I remember going to the Oscars and looking at all these movie stars on my left side and my right side from behind me and in front of me. And growing up, watching them all and thinking, what am I doing here? I guess I’m one of them too, I guess I am. And then when William Hart call my name in sign language, I thought, wait a minute, that can’t get any better than that. I mean, he was using my language. And I didn’t have to rely on somebody saying Marlee, you just won the Oscar. He signed mine. And one thing I think I would change is speech. I would have been better off if I had planned for my speech, but it was awesome and it still is to this day.

KARL

Well of all the memorable roles, including that one, that you’ve played over three decades in your career. Have you got one that stands out as a favorite? And if so, why?

MARLEE

Hm, that’s a hard question. I mean, I’ve had so many. I enjoyed working on the “West Wing,” a great deal. I enjoyed working on “The L Word.” I worked on “Quantico,” worked on, “Switched at Birth.” They’re all these wonderful roles that you wouldn’t normally see deaf characters in or characters who happened to be deaf. I’m very grateful for those producers, directors and writers who I’ve, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with. I mean, I’m just glad to be here for the ride. And I appreciate all the work that I’ve been given.

KARL

Well, we appreciate having you here, you know. We at Plus Life are all about taking on stigma, fighting stigma, dangerous, unnecessary stigma, whether it’s HIV related, trends related, anything I mean, let’s be honest. I often say HIV doesn’t have to kill you, but stigma will. And I know that you also fight stigma. What are some of the ways you found most effective when it comes to fighting the stigma in the deaf community?

MARLEE

Never stay quiet. I’m deaf, but I’m certainly not sad. I’ve never I mean, I think it’s about working together. I think it’s about, I mean, never be complacent and it’s just part of life to embrace and listen, it’s easy to say, but I think you have to put it into practice. You really, you want something to really happen, you like things to keep going, then you have to just do it. Otherwise you’ll get lost in the mix.

KARL

Yeah absolutely. You’ve described your career as a wild ride. So what’s been the most rewarding aspect of this wild ride for you?

MARLEE

The most rewarding part of it has been. I mean, getting the opportunity to do what I’ve been able to do in my career. There’s so, so many things. I mean, I can’t even name them specifically, but I’ve just for whatever it is that I’ve had the opportunity to do, I’m so appreciative, but same time I know that there’s still so much to do, so much I wanna do, so much I wanna do to give, so much I wanna do to lend a hand, and hopefully inspire. So much out there, there really is. I mean, I’m not stopping for sure.

KARL

Thank you. Well I wish we could keep going, but sadly, that’s all the time we’ve got. So, thank you so much for taking the time this afternoon to sit down and chat with us. Congratulations again on “CODA.” And we look forward to seeing the new series when that premieres too. Thank you so much.

MARLEE

Thank you, thank you so much, bye.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: