Estelle Parsons makes it abundantly clear that she's a theater person, and yet she holds a place of honor in the world of movies. Not only was she in an American classic, Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967), but also the only member of its cast to win an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress), even though Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman and Michael J. Pollard also received nominations. (She was nominated again the following year for her role in Paul Newman's Rachel, Rachel.) This paradox isn't lost on Ms. Parsons, who spoke with Cinematical via phone recently, but she seems amused by it all. To her, it was fun, but it's just a footnote compared to her love of the stage. Today, at an imperturbable 80 years of age, she acts, directs plays, works often with Al Pacino and loves her long walks in the woods. Warner Home Video releases the new, remastered Bonnie and Clyde DVD on March 25.
Cinematical: Have you seen Bonnie and Clyde recently?
Estelle Parsons: Yes. Gee, I just loved it. I think I saw it on the 30th anniversary. And I saw it again now. It's just so intense. It was wonderful. It was like looking at something I wasn't in.
Cinematical: How did your role in the movie come about? Did Warren Beatty cast you?
EP: No! I was working for Arthur Penn at the Berkshire Drama Festival and I did "Skin of Our Teeth," which Penn had directed in an experimental way. It meant so much. I discovered a great gift with him, which I didn't even know I had. So I was high as a kite on all this good work I had been doing. I was so excited! I was riding high! I was learning all kinds of things about myself. I was going to join a repertory company in San Francisco, and then it fell through, and Arthur said: "You have to read this script." I thought, "This is one of those secondary roles." And I kept reading and it kept getting better and better. Plus I had worked with Gene Hackman before and loved him.