Sky High : An Interview with Lynda Carter
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Sky High: An Interview with Lynda Carter
By Fred TopelIf there was one female superhero that many kids and adults can remember, it's Wonder Woman. She was the first to marketed on a major level and Lynda Carter was the only one to play her on TV at a time when there wasn't so many channels, or programs. Carter was so famous that you can't think of the character without thinking of her. As soon as the show went off the air, so did Carter. A few movies on the small screen and brief appearances on events is all you got of her in the last twenty years or so. Now she's making a comeback, but on the big screen. In the first of two major films coming out, Carter plays a teacher in the superhero film "Sky High", and in later this summer, she will be featured opposite Jessica Simpson in "Dukes of Hazzard". In speaking to blackfilm.com, Carter goes her fame as Wonder Woman and being in "Sky High".
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE WONDER WOMAN ROLE WAS SO ICONIC ALL OVER THE WORLD?
CARTER: I just live my life and this all kind of happened without me being necessarily...I think that it's cool. It's kind of humbling. I'm thrilled that 'Wonder Woman' and that character endures because every actor wants a role that has some positive affect and causes people to smile or have good memories and to endure. It doesn't just go away, fade away. It's been 25 years that it's been off the air and so it still surprises me when younger people recognize me or know my work or whatever, and the funny thing is that as each generation goes along, I remember my son was about thirteen and he wasn't supposed to go see 'Super Troopers' because it was R-rated and,, of course all of his friends were sneaking into the theaters because it was against the rules and I just became the most popular mom because I had two seconds in 'Super Troopers.' And those kinds of things just give me a tickle and listening to stories about what 'Wonder Woman' was, and they jumped off of a roof or that it was inspirational for women or they had my poster and I don't want to know about it. 'I had your poster up when I was fourteen.' 'Don't tell me.' I hope that I have a body of work by the time that I'm done with all of this that I'm proud of. Certainly the cornerstone will always be Wonder Woman and I love her. I love her too. I get it. But I don't think that it is me. I really think that it's her.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE AN AUTHORITY ON SUPERHEROES?
CARTER: Definitely. I'm totally an authority. I was one of the first and I get it. Before, as a young actress, I knew the traps of doing something like 'Wonder Woman.' I had everyone warning me, people were saying, 'You shouldn't do it. You'll never get another job. This and that.' I've kind of always gone my own way anyway and I would've taken it and done it for free. There weren't any roles for young actresses back then. I didn't do it for free by the way, but people have tried to put me in a box my whole life. I'm too tall. I'm too pretty. Too Miss USA. Wonder Woman. Prettiest woman in the world. And all of that. It doesn't matter because I've gone my own way and have tried to approach my career from a gut level, doing what I thought was right. When I got 'Wonder Woman' I made a couple of decisions. The first one was that I wanted to discover who she was, not what her powers were, not what the storyline was or whether it was a Nazi or whatever kind of bad guy there was, but really who she is. And in reading all the research and how they came up with the character way back in the '40's, it was to give girls their own hero so that it wasn't just 'Batman' and 'Superman' and all the rest of them that were out there during world war two. She came from an island where all the woman could do the same things, and she had to compete against her sisters, her fellow Amazonians and so it was her will in going against her mother which we can all identify with when you're a teenager or whatever, not wanting to do what your mom wants you to do necessarily. So it gave me the idea that she was a real force and that she had her own ideas about things, and she didn't think that she was all that. She just really saw a need like so many women do and I've discovered that the archetype of Wonder Woman really lives in all of us. She had the goddess within. It's who we really are. That secret self that yearns to be out and that we hope is appreciated and even if it isn't we still do what do. There wasn't any threat to any female from her. She just as soon backhand some guy. 'It belongs to you? How dare you?' Whack! I wanted to be liked by woman. That was more important to me than men.
WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE THAT SOMEONE'S EVER GIVEN YOU AND WHO IS YOUR REAL LIFE HERO?
CARTER: The best advice? God. There are so many things over the years, and so many people. It's hard. I can go off on a tangent just going through the files. God. A woman that I studied with in New York really helped me to see that, and she was an acting coach, that no matter who it is we all deal from our own point of view. Any character that I play has got that selfish motivation. It's not some elusive thing. It is what's self-serving. What's going to make feel good? What's going to get me the job? What's going to get my close to you? What's going to make me feel good about myself? Whatever it is. And when someone else does something that you don't like you can't take it personally because they're not even thinking about you. They're thinking about themselves.
AND ON A PERSONAL LIFE, THE BEST ADVICE?
CARTER: The personal level best advice? You're tough. Persevere. I think that's it. There will be an end. In the tough times remember that this too shall pass. There will be an end to this, a resolution. If you can push your way through it's an opportunity for growth. I'm just hopelessly optimistic and it drives my family crazy because I'm always trying to help other people see that it's going to end. Oh, God. What can I learn from this thing? I'd much rather be that way, to say, 'Okay, this is really crappy. I hate this. But what's my part in it? What's my part and not what someone else did and that's even if they did a terrible thing?' There's someplace that I allowed that. I didn't listen to myself and say, 'Stay away from this person,' or whatever it is. The thing that I want to say today is that I feel really lucky. I feel really lucky. I feel very fortunate about this movie, about 'Dukes.' I'm doing work on a new videogame for Xbox that's coming out. I've got a 'Law and Order' coming out and I get to do that in August. I've got so many wonderful things happening now.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BETWEEN 'WONDER WOMAN' AND NOW?
CARTER: I did from one to four projects maybe in a year. Maybe in an 18-month period I didn't work, like after kids or something, but I've always done one little thing. It might not be seen very much like on cable or an independent film, something like that or I've been studying or something. I did two series that just never went anywhere and I have two kids.
WHAT DO YOU PLAY IN 'DUKES' WHICH WASN'T THAT COMPETITION FOR 'WONDER WOMAN' BACK IN THE DAY?
CARTER: Oh yeah, I think that it was. We were on the same lot together and I knew all those guys and I run into them now and again. And who is this guy anyway that is putting that movie down? Cooter. He hasn't seen it. Sour grapes, man.
WHAT DO YOU PLAY IN IT?
CARTER: It wasn't in the original, but I play a friend of the family. Boss Hogg sort of lusts after me and Burt [Reynolds] can do a great sturdy old man, I'll tell you and then you don't know quite what the relationship is with Willy [Nelson] and my character. You're not quite sure and where he kisses me got cut out of the movie.
ARE YOU A BIG WILLY NELSON FAN?
CARTER: Oh, God, yeah.
THERE'S ALWAYS TALK ABOUT DOING A 'WONDER WOMAN' FILM. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CAST IN THAT ROLE?
CARTER: I've been asked this question a lot today and everyone wants to know this. I really think that it has to be someone who is not famous. Not necessarily someone who is inexperienced, but twenty and fresh and with what I hope for that she connects. That she gets it. That you can't play a superhero; that you have to play the human being. You have to play the person. The costume and the special FX take care of all that stuff. You have to work at what's going on inside. You know what, look at like the 'Indiana Jones' movie, you loved him because that's kind of the way you would react if the boulder was coming towards you or if your dad was treating you like a child again. That's why 'Spider-Man' was so successful or 'Star Wars,' particularly the original ones where as things are happening to you you're reacting and without this kind of posturing.
HAVE YOU BEEN APPROACHED ABOUT BEING IN A 'WONDER WOMAN' FILM?
CARTER: Not yet. No.
WOULD YOU BE INTO THAT?
CARTER: I don't know. I'd like to be a part of it if it's right, if it fits in the script and it's the right thing, if they were thinking of me when they were writing it. But just to be in it, just to do something I wouldn't care about that.
WHO DO YOU THINK IS A ROLE MODEL OUT THERE TODAY LIKE YOU WERE FOR SO MANY WOMEN?
WHO WAS YOUR ROLE MODEL?
CARTER: God. I cringe sometimes when I see my daughter and her friends dancing and with the clothes, but I guess that's what teenagers are supposed to do, wear clothes that you don't like and listen to music that you don't like. That's their job. It's not going to be necessarily a popular thing, but I lived in Washington and I can't help, but relate my own experience to that question. Hilary Clinton to me, I've known she and her husband since '83. I was married. I lived in Kentucky and he was still the governor of Arkansas back then. With all the stuff that surrounded her, inside the beltway certainly, when she first went to the United States Senate, people were saying, 'Who does she think that she is and who does she think she's going to be? There were all these little mini remarks and stuff that you would hear and she just put her nose to the grindstone so much so that through the grapevine all the other senators were saying, 'Why aren't you doing that?' to their aides and stuff. It's like she raised the bar. And she was dealing with all of this personal stuff. If you don't like her there's nothing that you can do that you're going to agree with if you don't like her. She's so smart and maybe she's ambitious, so what. Maybe she wants to be president. So what? You'll get your pound of flesh and those people from New York are getting five pounds. She works her tail off and she really wants to make the country better and against all odds she's done what she has. Talk about someone having to hide their life because she was just too scary. She's so smart that it was like, 'Okay. I won't say anything.'
YOU STILL LOOK SO GREAT. WHAT'S YOUR REGIME?
CARTER: I try to workout. I'm not crazy weird about it. I try to do what's healthy for my heart, what's healthy for my skin. I still have a pizza here and there. I don't drink. But I just try to do the best that I can and some days are better than others. I just try to plug along. I was talking about this earlier with someone, I would say that I'm a happy person. I'm not happy all of the time. I'm happy moments of everyday and I would say that most days there's not an unhappy moment. But I live my life. People will say, 'I'm not happy.' Well, it's only moments. It's a sunset. It's your child sleeping. It's a great steak. It's having that cookie that you shouldn't have had and you loved every bite of it. It is holding your temper with your kids when you feel like you want to explode. That's an unhappy moment, but then you're happy because you really were thinking and not reacting. I guess carpe diem.
YOU'RE VERY OUTSPOKEN ABOUT YOUR MOTHER'S BOUT WITH IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME...
CARTER: Man, that was a tough one.
WHAT CAN YOU SAY TO PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM THAT?
CARTER: Okay. IBS, I was sort of asked, if you don't know, by the National Women's Center for Health, - they had heard me talking about my mom's condition and it's really an awful condition and there are so many people afflicted with it. And it's just not something that we like to talk about. They called me and asked me if I would do this launch for the awareness campaign and I said, 'Well, I don't think so.' I said, 'I'm sure that my mom isn't going to want me to talk about her IBS.' But I said I'd call her. So I did and she said, 'Oh, honey. I'm so glad that you're going to finally do something about it, someone is finally going to do something about it.' What was shocking is that so many people have it. You could go to five people and one of those people will have it or know someone who has it, and my mother suffered for so many years. She won't travel. She won't go anywhere because is always afraid. There's a lot of help out there now. For those that do suffer you are not alone. You're not crazy. It's not in your head. It's not just stress. It's not your diet. It is a condition that has to do with serotonin receptors in your gut.
IS THERE A WEBSITE THAT YOU CAN TELL PEOPLE ABOUT?
CARTER: Yeah. You can go on any of the medical websites, type in IBS and it'll search it out for you.
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