Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
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Kathy Bates has been regarded as one of the finest character actors of the past 30 years. She’s an Oscar winner that’s showed off quite the range, excelling in slapstick comedies as well as serious dramas. Bates is a veteran of the screen, and she’s also been behind the camera. Now in her early 70s, Bates has a long resume in Hollywood, and for all movie fans, hopefully there is plenty more to add to the list in the coming years.
Bates was born on June 28, 1948 in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in the city. After she finished high school, Bates headed to Texas to attend Southern Methodist, and it was there that she started performing on stage. After she graduated at just 20 years old, Bates decided to pursue acting as a full-time job.
With that, Bates did what many actors do and headed to New York City to live out her dream. It wasn’t easy at first and Bates had to take jobs outside of acting before finally getting her break. Bates had been told that she might not have the right “look” to become an actress, but she was determined to prove them wrong, and ended up getting the last laugh.
Bates made her debut with a small part in the film “Taking Off” in 1971 and for the rest of the decade had a movie with “Straight Time” and guest appearances on the shows “The Doctors” and “The Love Boat”. During the 1980s, Bates added more guest roles on TV with shows like “St. Elsewhere”, “L.A. Law’ and “Cagney & Lacey”.
Meanwhile, Bates’ film career started to take off in the decade. She had been in films such as “Arthur 2: On the Rocks”, “My Best Friend is a Vampire” and “Summer Heat”. Things got even better during the 1990s as Bates kicked off the decade with a role in “Dick Tracy”, as well as a leading role in “Misery”. Playing the role of Annie Wilkes, Bates earned herself her first Oscar nomination, taking home the title for Best Actress.
“The Oscar changed everything,” Bates said after her win. “Better salary, working with better people, better projects, more exposure, less privacy.” She added that in her career following the win that “After winning the Oscar, I was committed to do ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, but I didn’t know what the next thing would be after that. It was a scary time. But the advantage of TV is the regular work. All you need is a hit series, I guess.”
“And people are always saying, ‘Well, you go to Hollywood and you get yourself a film career or a TV series, and then you can do anything you want because then you’ve got the clout,’” Bates said. “That always sounded like a lot of hooey to me, but now I think it’s true.”
Following up her role in “Misery”, Bates had roles in the 1990s with “Angus”, “Titanic” and “The Waterboy” while also adding more TV guest roles. In 1998, Bates earned a second Oscar nomination, this time coming as a supporting character in “Primary Colors”. Early on in the 2000s, Bates landed a third nomination thanks to her role in “About Schmidt”, starring alongside Jack Nicholson.
Also in the early 2000s, Bates was in films such as “Bruno”, “American Outlaws” and “Unconditional Love”. Bates had plenty of roles during the decade, wrapping it up with roles in movies such as “P.S. I Love You”, “Revolutionary Road” and “The Blind Side”. Bates became more involved with TV, too, having recurring roles in “Six Feet Under” and “Alice”.
The 2010s have seen a lot of small screen work for Bates, as well. She took on a starring role in the series “Harry’s Law” that aired on NBC for two seasons, and she joined the cast of the popular sitcom “The Office”. Since then, she’s had several recurring roles while also starring in multiple iterations of “American Horror Story”, as well as the Netflix series “Disjointed” in recent years.
Recent films for Bates include “Bad Santa 2”, “The Boss” and “The Highwaymen”. Coming up, Bates will also be part of the cast of “Richard Jewell”. It’s clear that there’s still a lot left in the tank for the actress in her early 70s despite having to struggle through health problems that included a pair of cancer diagnoses, and she’s been a strong advocate of cancer awareness.
“I was never an ingenue,” Bates has said of her career. “I’ve always just been a character actor. When I was younger, it was a real problem, because I was never pretty enough. It was hard, not just for the lack of work, but because you have to face up to how people are looking at you.” When it comes to the type of characters she picks out, Bates says that “I look for a role that hopefully I feel empathy with and that I can understand with love, but also that has that challenge for me to play - a different kind of role, a different type of character, a different time period…I try to always stretch myself to fit the characters that have been presented.”
“It matters to me, acting,” Bates added. “It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve given up a lot to do. It’s my lief source. And I guess sometimes I’m too serious about it sometimes, but I want to treat it right.”