Elizabeth Taylor remembered: Austin Pendleton
Austin Pendleton directed Elizabeth Taylor in her 1981 Broadway debut in Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes," which earned them both Tony nominations. The same year, Taylor reprised her role in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre.
In a phone conversation from New York on Wednesday, Pendleton recalled working with the actress:
"I never met anyone more generous than she was. She was generous in every way -- emotionally, artistically. She shared every moment on stage with the other actors -- she didn't act like the star, which she was. I never met anyone of her celebrity who could so instantly put people at ease. I think she's known for that. And she had no trouble adapting to the stage. So many of her biggest triumphs in film were [stage works.] She clearly had that capacity. She was capable of thinking like a theater actress. Her openness to people, her kindness was instinctive. She wasn't being kind, she was being herself. I never saw her once be difficult with anybody on the whole year we worked on the play.
"When you work with her, you became aware of what was exciting about her film acting -- it was always about Elizabeth and someone else. She never would make a point of herself being featured. People told me that you have to make her face front more, but I didn't think so. And she said no, lightly, like what are you talking about? And that was the end of the discussion. She feeds the other actors and they feed her.
"There was key moment in the first act [of 'Little Foxes'] -- I had her turn her back to the audience, and address the actors upstage. How many stars would let you do that? But she loved the idea."
-- David Ng
Photo (bottom): Elizabeth Taylor, in an undated photo. Credit: Reuters