August 10, 2022

Shirley MacLaine is nearing 90, but she’s still brimming with vim and vinegar.

The 88-year-old Oscar winner whose film career spans more than six decades — her first film was the Alfred Hitchcock 1955 comedy “The Trouble with Harry” — has a new movie out called “American Dreamer,” which premiered this week at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.

Based on a segment from the podcast “This American Life,” MacLaine plays a lonely widow who offers a cash-strapped professor (Peter Dinklage) the chance to buy her sprawling estate for mere pennies. The deal, however, is not as it seems on the surface.

The “Steel Magnolias” star told The Post — in a recent interview along with the film’s director Paul Dektor — that she took the role to work with Dinklage, for one.

“I liked the script and I thought it was an interesting take on reality — and I wanted to work with Peter Dinklage,” she said.

MacLaine was a fan of Dinklage’s work before they co-starred in “American Dreamer” with Matt Dillon and Danny Glover. The film is now screening in NYC.
Getty Images

‘I really practically didn’t see anybody for a year and that was an interesting experience’

Shirley MacLaine, speaking to The Post about life on COVID-19 lockdown

When asked if she had been a fan of the “Game of Thrones” actor for “a long time,” she tartly responded, “I don’t know, define time.”

Amazingly, it’s Dektor’s directorial debut, and the filmmaker admitted that “everyone was, you know, taking a chance on me but I felt like they kind of made it easy for me not to feel intimidated just by the way they approached it.”

When asked why she gets offered “feisty older lady” parts, MacLaine wisely answered, “Well, maybe, they’re not that way when they are written,” acknowledging her own “Doesn’t suffer fools gladly” personality.

See also  Porn star Logan Long dead at 34 after health battle

MacLaine revealed that after shooting the movie, she sheltered in place with nary a soul around.

“I came to the mountains in New Mexico and I just, I really practically didn’t see anybody for a year [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] and that was an interesting experience,” she said. “I did realize when I started talking to myself, I thought, well I better go out and wear a mask.”

Shirley MacLaine and Billy Wilder.
MacLaine played around with director Billy Wilder on the set of “The Apartment.”
Getty Images

The “Apartment” star chooses to look at the experience of isolation as a positive.

“I think it’s good being in touch with what many of us had been losing,” she explained. “A sense of who we basically and centrally are, even with all of what goes on in our businesses and social life.

Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment."
MacLaine played Debra Winger’s mother in “Terms of Endearment.”
Everett Collection

“There’s a reason [for everything], what the reason is for COVID, we’re trying to figure out and I think being cooped up alone is contributive to figuring out some other stuff we should have figured out years ago. So I say everything happens for learning.”

The “Terms of Endearment” star also noted that the current times “puts you more in touch with the things that should be higher on your value list than they are.”

Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine.
MacLaine’s younger brother is Warren Beatty.
Getty Images for AFI

At first, MacLaine scoffed at revealing what was on her “value list” but after some prodding, she said that “patience, impatience is one of my problems although that’s easier to work on when you’re alone!”

“Maybe that’s why I was alone so much,” she mused, “I’m also working on the truth of what is really out there.”

MacLaine has long had an interest in metaphysics and spirituality and has written best-selling books about the subjects including “Out on a Limb” and “Dancing in the Light.”

See also  Johnny Depp to reprise Captain Jack ‘Pirates’ role with $301M deal: report
Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine in "Steel Magnolias."
MacLaine was part of the ensemble in “Steel Magnolias.”
© TriStar/Courtesy Everett Collection

Sadly, she thinks her writing days are over.

“I don’t feel like writing anymore,” she explained. “I wrote everything by hand and I am noticing a problem with aching in my fingers. I would write 20 pages a day and I can’t do that anymore. I have to think (about) it and then if I talk to somebody or I put it all into words because I’m an actor it becomes something other than thinking.

“But I must say, I think I got quite a bit put off this year being alone. I think I mostly, I’ve become very observant and there’s such a pleasure in observing what the world is doing when you’re not all that involved. I guess it put me even more in touch with how
much activity goes on beyond what we can see and hear. Or think we can see and hear or what we can’t see and hear. But that’s another interview.”