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From: tlg4@po.CWRU.Edu (TJ Goldstein) Date: 8 Nov 92 00:43:13 GMT Newsgroups: rec.arts.startrek.misc,rec.arts.tv Subject: An interview with Gates McFadden GATES MCFADDEN: SMALL TOWN KID MAKES GOOD by TJ Goldstein At first glance, Doctor Beverly Crusher seems like a pretty straightforward person. But if you look deeply enough, you find "the Dancing Doctor," a hint that there's more to that redhead than meets the eye. It would seem that the same goes for the actor who portrays the Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gates McFadden -- no, it's her mother's maiden name -- who took some time out from filming the show to talk to us by phone. Anybody who says that there's nothing to do in Ohio should talk to Ms McFadden, who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls. According to her bio, while she spent the weekdays excelling at a private school, she livened up her weekends by lying about her age, stuffing her bras for her costumes, and dancing in a kickline. And that was just high school. In college, she decided to broaden her horizons by temporarily emigrating to France to study acting under Jaques LeCoq. "Just learning to think in another language allows you to see your own culture in a better viewpoint." While she credits a great deal of inspiration to her teacher, "the whole experience of going away, not having much money, having to make my way in this new world that was so beautiful and had so much history was quite profound. Any time you spend time in another culture, it's not just a matter of visiting the museums, taking a quick week vacations or something. I mean, that can be wonderful too but to actually communicate, spend the time and all of that, that can be quite wonderful." The company she kept also contributed to the experience. "The people who were in my classes were from all over the world. There were many, many languages and all of us spoke French in order to communicate. I had learned French in school, but I was dumbfounded when I first got there. I got off the plane and they all spoke so fast, and it was so different! But after two months, I was doing great. You just need to calm down and not panic. I kept doing things like asking for an undertaker, but other than that, I made it along." Since then the world has become considerably smaller, and even her hometown is different. "Even the physical layout of the town is different. The school I went to is no longer a high school, it's an elementary school, the elementary school I went to was a private school and it's now a city school. Although, Silverlake Village, where I spent a lot of time, that's every much the same. The lake's still there, and I'm sure they still have a strawberry festival in August, or whenever it was. There's all sorts of budding prepubescent love going on, holding hands. I remember all that sort of things. But the town's different. Shopping malls have changes a lot of this country. Everything's so generic. You can buy the Disney stuff all over the country instead of having to go to a place where it's indigenous. " She feels the same way about France. "It was really a big deal when I came back. People in my hometown didn't know what a croissant was. You just didn't hear about them. But now as people have traveled more, the world has become smaller that way. I don't know, it's good and it's bad. There's a loss, in that you can get everything everywhere, but I suppose there's a good side to that too." And just as a side note, next to her parents, when she comes home for a visit she most looks forward to Swenson's and Stoddard's frozen custard. "The area's just a great place to grow up." As the world changes, so does the way Ms McFadden sees her role in it. Her bio says that her time in France "taught her about an artist's responsibility to herself." These days, though, that's not so clear cut. "When I was young, it was very exciting to have a thought that we can change the world if we all collaborated, but I think it's not just an artist's responsibility as I think we all have responsibilities to different things, whatever we choose in our lives. I feel responsible to my family and also many other things and people in my life. And then how much responsibility do I have for people in Yugoslavia, and people like that? You start to think, how much do I want to do as an individual? How are you going to live your life? I don't have a short philosophical answer. I just know that that thought informs the way I live my life. I don't know exactly how, but it's something that I consider often. What is my responsibility as a citizen, as an actress, as a mother, and on and on? I will say for one that I don't do nearly as much as I could." But, she agrees that perhaps most people are like that. "It's very hard. Life is so fast these days, and we're exposed to so much information. Television makes us a witness to such misery. Also you're a witness if you're driving in certain areas, walking in certain areas. It can be next door, wherever. I think it's hard to actually take action. It's much easier to talk about it. And I have done a lot of talking about it and not much action, so I feel remiss in that. My responsibilities to my job and to my family take just about all of the time available." And if she didn't have those responsibilities? "I really don't know, but I doubt I'd be at a loss as to having other interests and doing other things. I love a lot of things, and I'm pretty much obsessive about most things I do, whether it be gardening, or architecture, or music. I'd be an obsessive hairdresser. With my experience with my wig, I certainly would be." A former faculty member at both Brandies and New York University, she is a trained and experienced director, and would like to get back to writing someday. While she sees acting as a way of defining herself, she sees writing as a way of further defining the way she sees the world. While reluctant to broadcast her ideas -- "There are things I am working on, but they're not things I would discuss in an interview." -- she did joke about wanting to write War and Peace (and several other extremely long Russian novels). Ms McFadden is also an accomplished director. Is there any truth to the rumor that she will direct this season? "It certainly is news to me. I've asked to direct for six years. I certainly have no knowledge of that. You know, you guys with the computers get the rumors way before we do. I get asked things at conventions and I'll say, 'You're kidding, is that true? That's ridiculous.' And I'll go back, and sure enough, it's true, and I had no idea." And for those of you who were wondering if the actors who get to direct get to choose their scripts, the answer is no. "Certainly I would not be able to pick what script. Not at all. I'd probably get it two days before I had to shoot it." Another thing she might get to do this season is take off her wig. She says that her real hair is long and about the same color, but that the hair itself is different. "I have met few people who like me better in the wig, let's just put it that way. It would also be a lot cooler." So it remains to be seen how much of the real Gates McFadden we will see. One thing is for certain, though. There's more under that wig than she's letting on.

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