Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones have joined the touring production of Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy in Sydney. And though the play centers on a woman who is reluctant to admit that she is aging, neither Lansbury and Jones is letting getting older stop them from the profession they love.
“First of all, wake up. Wake up and try to get your bones moving,” said Jones, who turns 82 on January 17. “And then be enthusiastic about what you do. I’m very enthusiastic about acting still. I love the process of creating a character.”
Jones had previously starred in a Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave, as well as a West End production. As we previously reported, during his West End appearance, James was presented with an honorary Oscar at Wyndham Theatre.
Lansbury, 87, said, acting on stage is different than acting on the screen, and allows you to let loose.
“You get on stage and you really can let it out,” she said. “You’re not hampered by camera angles or lighting.”
Although many remember Lansbury from role as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, she has also appeared on stage in Auntie Mame, Gypsy, and Sweeney Todd.
“Coming back to the theater about seven years ago turned the tide for me, it really did. Because it gave me a career after 70,” Lansbury said. “I could still work in the theater and play great roles, but it wasn’t so easy to continue as a motion picture actress … But I love the theater and, as it turned out, it was the thing to do.”
Driving Miss Daisy originally started as an off-Broadway play before it was adapted into the 1989 film starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.
“When I saw Morgan do it, I said ‘I’d like to play that role,’” Jones said. “I thought I understood (Hoke) and I want to understand him more.”
Lansbury said the fact that the play was set in the American South that drew her to the role.
“I understand the southern mentality,” she said. “I went to drama school with a number of young women who came from (the South) and I never forgot them and I never forgot the way they spoke. Their accents were so interesting to me.”