(Piper Laurie speaks at The Bowers Museum Sunday, January 13, at 1:30.)
Today, at 80, actor Piper Laurie is grandmotherly. She made me coffee at her house before our interview, and fretted it was lousy. (It was fine.) So it's a little hard to picture her losing her virginity, as she claims in her memoir, to Ronald Reagan, who was playing her father in Louisa (1950); losing her composure in The Hustler (1961) while sitting across the table running lines with Paul Newman; and turning her death scene in Carrie (1976) into a protracted and creepily sexy orgasm.
As she explained to me, she pitched the idea to director Brian DePalma and he liked it.
Our conversation was long and wide ranging, encompassing a very sad few years when she and her sister were virtually exiled to a sanitorium in LA for her sister's health, an audition for Universal that should have led to better roles, three Oscar nominations, and the phenomenon that is Twin Peaks. She's still a little puzzled that it was canceled. She figures the network executives were as frustrated as many of the viewers about the number of loose ends David Lynch has leaving.
We also spoke about her sculpting, which she perfected in Woodstock during the long hiatus between The Hustler and Carrie. This is not the work of an actor/artist; both titles figure equally in her resume.
By the way, when she saw the photo of our Carrie re-enactment, Piper Laurie was appalled that there was schmutz on the blade. It's avocado, not flesh.