Cancer comedy "50/50" hits home for Anjelica Huston

Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:00pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar winning actress Angelica Huston has often played quirky roles in films like "The Addams Family" and "The Royal Tenenbaums." This weekend, the 60 year-old Hollywood star plays her most "normal" character to date in the cancer comedy "50/50."

The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man whose life changes drastically when he is diagnosed with cancer. Huston plays Diane, his overbearing mother.

Huston's own husband, sculptor Robert Graham Jr., died three years ago, and she talked to Reuters about that life-changing event and how it impacted her character in "50/50." She also revealed she's working on a memoir.

Q: It takes a minute or two to even recognize you in "50/50." What made you decide to wear a frosted wig?

A: "The way I look in life is a bit dramatic for what I wanted for her. Certain roles demand that you take a big step outside yourself. I wanted her to be a middle class woman living in Seattle who shops at the mall, wears blazers and probably would have played golf if she weren't having to go through this ordeal with a son who's sick and a husband who has Alzheimer's."

Q: Did you draw on your own experiences for the role?

A: "I lost my husband a year before I made this movie. So it came from a deeply personal place. I took everything -- all of my experience from the five months I spent with him in (intensive care) to day-to-day occurrences in the hospital -- which was kind of ludicrous at the same time as being heartbreaking. I think so much of what a caregiver does is to bring love and humor to a situation in which they have absolutely no power. That's what I was kind of channeling for Diane."

Q: Is that one of the reasons you accepted the role?   Continued...

<p>Cast member Anjelica Huston arrives for the premiere of the film "50/50" in New York September 26, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>