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The Kathy Bates Bio

The Kathy Bates Review –

by Nate Lee

Best Films:

Fried Green Tomatoes / Misery

Even if you're not a Stephen King fan, you have to admire Bates' downright scary portrayal of Annie, who is just a little too determined that novelist James Caan not kill off "Misery," his (and, clearly, her) heroine. She is the lead and her many awards testify to her pivotal part in one of King's few cinematic successes. Still, though, "Fried Green Tomatoes" is so brilliant, and there is no question that Bates' down-to-earth charm brings at least half of the film home. Plus, she plays a character who changes and grows through her encounters with Jessica Tandy – literally awakening to the possibilities for her life. That has to be a much more difficult acting feat, which she pulls off with equal measures of determination and smiles (and some brilliant costume and hair choices).
Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
About Schmidt (SAG, Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated performance opposite Jack Nicholson, as his daughter's future mother-in-law)
A Home of our Own (a mother of six and a widow trying to make do)
Bonneville (road-trip companion of Jessica Lange and Joan Allen)
The Family that Preys (matriarch opposite Alfre Woodard in a Tyler Perry film)
Love Liza (with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the mother of a girl who kills herself)
Cheri (ex-courtesan and friend of Michelle Pfeiffer, until Pfeiffer has an affair with her son)
Shadows and Fog
Prelude to a Kiss
Titanic (Molly Brown)
Primary Colors (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated and SAG-winning performance as a campaign expert for pseudo-Clintons John Travolta and Emma Thompson)
Dick Tracy (Mrs. Green)
The Blind Side (Miss Sue)
Around the World in 80 Days (Queen Victoria)
Failure to Launch (Terry Bradshaw's wife trying to get son Matt McConaughey to move out)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (a frustrated secretary of defense)
Silly Kathy:
The Waterboy (Adam Sandler's swamp mama)
Unconditional Love (a woman obsessed with a recently murdered singing star)
Fred Claus (Santa's and Fred's mother)
'Heavy' Kathy:
Misery (Oscar and Golden Globe-winning performance as Annie, a murderously obsessed fan of a novelist's main character who takes the novelist hostage)
Revolutionary Road (Helen Givings, opposite Leonardo and Kate Winslet)
Dolores Claiborne (a woman mysteriously connected to two deaths)
The War at Home (a woman in denial of her son Emilio Estevez's post-traumatic stress disorder)
At Play in the Fields of the Lord (a missionary who can't cope with the loss of her son)
The Real Kathy Bates:
The HBO stuff that she directs and live theatre.
Acting Style:
Down to earth. Whether she is playing trailer trash, psycho, or Southern gothic; Queen Victoria or Molly Brown, Bates is the straight-shootingest actress around. The fact that she doesn't just play the trashy Southern caricatures is due to several things: she is a stage-trained actress who brings nuances to virtually every role; she can do comedy; and her eyes and bearing show a fierce intelligence that seems more readily available than the silly stuff. That intelligence extends to behind the camera, by the way. Some of her better pieces happen to be directing/acting for HBO and other TV work.
Bits and Quirks:
Glaring eyes, almost always for serious work. The soft smile she uses for comic stuff. Sometimes the head down with the eyes. Accentuates her Southern accent when she wants to be really tough, or sometimes just Southern expressions. A lot of hands on hips, combined with other straight-shooting figures of speech and aggressively loud or just aggressive tones.
Great Scenes:
Fried Green Tomatoes

> The discussions with Jessica Tandy in the nursing home
> Fighting back against the bitchy girls in the Winn-Dixie parking lot
> Tearing down the wall in her house, and the argument when she puts it back up
> The marriage-help sessions, particularly the "girdle" scene
> At Whistle Stop, in the end, with Tandy

Primary Colors

> Storming in and bossing everyone around
> Refusing to do Travolta's and Thompson's dirty work and blackmailing them


> Around the dinner table in the "snake pit"
> In the lifeboat, trying to get the people to turn around to rescue others


> Breaking James Caan's legs with a sledgehammer
> The fight to the death with Caan when he sets the new manuscript on fire

Failure to Launch

> The discussions with Sarah Jessica Parker, particularly after she goofs up

About Schmidt

> The infamous Jacuzzi scene with Jack Nicholson

The Blind Side

> The interview with Sandra Bullock
Go to the... Kathy Bates Bio