« Seven Point Wellness Offers Half-Price Services to Working NY Dancers | Main | Gervais to Host Globes; 'Newsies' in Macy's Parade »

Sally Kirkland's Amazing Journey

KirklandI recently had the tremendous pleasure of working with veteran actor-teacher Sally Kirkland on an article for our “Where Did They Study?” issue. The charming and prodigiously talented Kirkland provided us with fascinating details about her remarkable career, but we weren’t able to use one portion. As the focus of the issue was on where notable actors studied and details about their training, we didn’t include the wonderful anecdotes that she gave us about her own work as an acting coach for some highly notable actors.

These anecdotes were too wonderful not to share, so I am including them here. What I would like to know is: When is this highly regarded Oscar-nominated actor and longtime showbiz trouper going to write her autobiography?  She has a treasure trove of wisdom and great stories to share with the world. But meanwhile, without further ado, following is the text not used in the piece published in our November 10 issue.

Kirkland: One of my students was Kathy Griffin. I remember telling her how good she is at comedy, not to think of herself as a tragedian. A lot of people come in thinking they’re going to get an Oscar for their dramatic work. Sean Penn came to me and said, “I hear you’re the best acting coach in L.A. Can I study with you?” I told him I knew his father Leo Penn, who was a great director, and his mother was an actress. I told him from looking at him and hearing him, he was going to make it any second, that he was on fire. I advised him to go to a coach named Peggy Feury rather than staying in school with me where, back then, you weren’t allowed to audition for two years. So he did, and instantly became a star.

There are quite a few people I taught Method acting to. I coached Barbra Streisand both in an Actors Studio scene from “Romeo and Juliet” when she played Juliet and I played the Nurse, and when she did “Yentl,” she wanted to cry on cue for both of these projects. I had her do an emotional recall with her father, who died when she was very young. The tears would come. And then I would put the script in her lap and say ok, here, I’m doing the nurse and you’re Juliet, talking about Romeo. When she sings “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” in “Yentl,” she was using my work from Strasberg.

SoCal Stages_blogAnd Liza Minnelli had me coach her for a trilogy of plays she was doing on TV.  Then she took me to Vegas where she was doing her big act and I had her work with memories of her father, Vicente Minnelli. She had a big huge screen on stage with his picture and she would sing to him, and the tears would come streaming down her face. I taught Sandra Bullock when she was in her early 20s at a workshop I had in New York. I basically taught her all of my Strasberg work and some of my Harvey Lembeck work and Shakespeare. I told her, “You’re going to be a big star.” I put her in the showcase I was doing. Director Dan Adams came and saw her and put in her first or second film. The rest was history.

--Les Spindle


Dig This


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sally Kirkland's Amazing Journey:


The comments to this entry are closed.