We first met Kathryn Leigh Scott in my post about her beautiful book HERE and then later, in my shameless teaser about this interview HERE. With everything we learned in those two posts, you may think there’s nothing else to learn. Au contraire!
Everyone I’ve interviewed and written about in this space are **very important people!**. Some are a little more well-known than others. Kathryn Leigh Scott is among the latter… but that doesn’t mean you know all there is to know! And, isn’t that wonderful?
In keeping with “A little mystery is a good thing” and not wanting to overstay my welcome, I kept my questions to Ms. Scott to a minimum. After reading her book and rewatching an episode or two of the original Dark Shadows (*swoon*), I pared my original list of many, many questions down to just five… okay, with two bonus questions. Alright, yes, that’s seven questions. <<< Keeping things honest. 🙂
I hope you’ll find Scott’s life and life-advice as helpful and encouraging as I have. I plan to weave some of her ideas into my own rituals.
1. What did you learn as a young person growing up on a farm in Minnesota that you’ve carried throughout your life?
Our whole family worked on the farm planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables my Dad took to market, so my brother and I learned early on how to pull our own weight and mix work and play. We had woods where we played hide and seek, a creek to swim and fish in, a meadow area the fire department flooded for ice skating, hills for sledding and tobogganing and mounds of cabbage crates for building forts and castles where we could stage plays and pageants, so we were never short on things to do or playmates wanting to join us. We could run wild, explore, get dirty, let our imaginations roam free and figure things out on our own–invaluable for an actor and writer. It wasn’t until I left for college that I looked back and realized we were poor and I hadn’t known it, another fine childhood lesson to carry with me as I launched careers that can be as fickle and unreliable as farming.
2. In your book Now With You Now Without (on the very first page!) you talk about a woman named Jane who became your life-long mentor and confidant. When she offered to “teach you everything” she knew, what prompted you to say yes?
Jane was a remarkable woman with an amazing story. I met her shortly after I moved to London and adored her on sight. Her companionship alone meant learning about overcoming adversity and hardship, harnessing one’s skills and ambition and persevering with boundless optimism and courage–that was Jane. I met with her every Wednesday afternoon in a small, sunny studio in Wigmore Hall, bare except for a piano. I never knew what she’d teach me that day but was open to anything, whether it was singing Verdi, doing mime, mastering various accents or learning the finer points of curtsying or properly consuming an English tea. I could ask her anything and she’d tell me everything.
3. You played Maggie Evans Collins in Dark Shadows (the original television series [1966-1971] and subsequent sequels). Horror in the soap opera genre seems like a natural, to me, but this was really the first and only show of its kind. What made you take a chance on it?
Honestly, I think it was Dan Curtis who took a chance on me! It was my first professional job, outside of summer stock and a TV commercial. In the beginning, Dark Shadows was a Gothic romance, a bodice ripper without a hint of blood, gore or any other elements of horror until Jonathan Frid came on board as Barnabas Collins. Furthermore, no other soap borrowed stories from great literature, used an anthology format, time-traveled or cast actors in multiple roles. We broke a lot of new ground. While I knew at the time that Dark Shadows was special and that I was a very lucky young actor, I was so new to it all that I took everything very much in stride. The show was physically and emotionally taxing, so there was little time to do more than keep up with the shifting plotlines and new characters that were often supernatural. Whether they were vampires, witches or werewolves, we interacted with them as though they were human beings and I think that was one of the truly revelatory innovations of Dark Shadows.
4. In your book Now With You Now Without you introduce us to Happy Hour, a space of time carved out to maintain social connections during your husband Geoff’s illness. Drinks, food, music, mood and a small gathering of people every day or week or month at a set time… SUCH a smart idea that added a touch of normalcy to a very abnormal situation. You continued this tradition even after Geoff was gone, which is one of the great lessons you learned. Have you adapted during Covid? Are you still having your Happy Hours?
Oddly, yes, Happy Hour has survived Covid! In fact, “virtual” Happy Hours are a very healthy way to socialize during a pandemic. Everything that made our Happy Hours such a convivial way for my husband to stay in touch with friends and family when his health was so compromised, works for us now that we must socially-distance to stay safe. Dinner parties and bar-hopping are simply inappropriate, but arranging to meet friends on Zoom with a glass in hand to laugh, chat and catch up with each other is a very healthy, sane alternative.
5. What are your soothing self-care rituals?
Lucky me, I have a boyfriend and we share several mutual-care rituals. We both love to cook and lunch is our big meal of the day–and we don’t stint! We took a cooking class together in Italy and relish trying new recipes paired with wine for our midday meal. We both lost our spouses after long, happy marriages, so finding romance again is such an unexpected pleasure. We’re both writers (he’s a journalist and writes thrillers), and have much in common. There’s a comforting rhythm to our days, beginning with a morning walk with the Airedales before we each go off to write. After lunch, we write or read until another late afternoon walk. Sharing ideas and knowing you have someone to turn to for comfort and conversation is the best self-care ritual there is.
Bonus Question #1: What are you reading right now?
I’m reading my boyfriend, Patrick Oster’s thriller, “The Obituary Writer” and rereading Agatha Christie’s “The Mysterious Affair At Styles,” on the hundredth anniversary of her first mystery novel.
Bonus Question #2: How has your work with CurePSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy~ PSP) – the neurodegenerative disorder that claimed Geoff’s life – enriched your life? [Editors Note: Geoff Miller, Scott’s second husband]
I’ve taken support group training and spoken at several CurePSP family conferences around the country, which has given me perspective on the illness that claimed my husband’s life. Caregiving is a lonely business, and more isolating now that the few outlets for respite are no longer safe or practical. It meant the world to me that I could turn to a support group to talk about things one simply can’t discuss with anyone who is not experiencing the daily challenges, so reaching out to assist caregivers after my husband died was both a healing process for me and a way to express gratitude to everyone who helped me when I needed it most. Ask anyone who’s been a caregiver and they’ll admit to being perpetually alert to people who need assistance with a walker or a wheelchair or shoving a door open–you just can’t help it.
Direct link to Ms. Scott’s website: https://www.kathrynleighscott.com/
All portraits shown, including featured photo, credit Jonsar Studios