Lois Smith has had a long and varied acting career. She made her Broadway debut in 1952 and three years later was cast opposite James Dean in “East of Eden.” She was in “Five Easy Pieces” with Jack Nicholson and — more recently — she had a role on HBO’s “True Blood.”
Now, the 83-year-old Smith is starring at the Mark Taper Forum in the world premiere of “Marjorie Prime” — a play by Jordan Harrison about aging, memory and artificial intelligence.
Smith spoke with The Frame's John Horn about the play and her role.
Smith on how "Marjorie Prime" addresses the notion of memory
"One character at some point says, 'I don't know what memory's made of. Is it sedimentary layers?' The play [is] not a meditation, but a riff, perhaps, on that subject. Jordan [Harrison, the playwright] said at some point, 'This play is the intersection of perhaps humanity and technology.' The play takes place a bit in the future. Not a long time — we'll all recognize ourselves very well — but that's one of its surprises."
Smith on the evolution of becoming a character
"It's been extremely interesting. I suppose in every play [the process] deepens and stretches out. This one, no doubt about it...it's elusive in a lot of ways and I think, 'Oh good, I'm getting there, I'm finding out.' And then I think, 'Oh, farther to go.'"
Smith on how audience members of different ages react to the play's take on aging
"One friend saw it in regards to [her] mother, who's becoming forgetful. [That] mother saw her own very aged father. They laughed about what they each brought up, because they had just been sitting at the same performance of the same play."
Smith on her role, which isn't too physically taxing
"I'm not doing much walking around. I walk on, I walk off, I walk on — and that's about it. I sometimes say, 'It's almost as good as a bed part,' because I spend time in a recliner, which is pretty nice."