News and Commentary

Kathy Bates: In My Day, Actresses Knew Why They Went To Men’s Hotel Rooms
Kathy Bates attends The National Board of Review Annual Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on January 08, 2020 in New York City.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for National Board of Review

The protean and nonpareil actress Kathy Bates, whose gift for nuance in her work has earned her admiration from all quarters over the last thirty to forty years, displayed her penchant for truth-telling once again in an interview with The Guardian, in which she stated her thoughts regarding the #MeToo movement, saying, “In my day, if you went up to a guy’s hotel room, you knew exactly why you were going and in those days it was consensual.”

Bates was commenting on how the film industry has changed over the years when she made that statement, but she also noted that she approved of women coming forward to confront their abusers as she said, “About people like Weinstein and the casting couch and all of that, I have a confession. In my day, if you went up to a guy’s hotel room, you knew exactly why you were going and in those days it was consensual. Times were different, but I really support the women who are coming forward now and I’m not happy about the men who are being accused falsely – but the ones who deserve all they’re getting, my feeling is hey, go for it.”

Bates has been nominated for her fourth Academy Award for her luminous performance in Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” as Jewell’s mother Bobi. She won for Best Actress for “Misery” in 1990.

The Guardian wrote, “Bates’ Bobi is all nerves and near-hysteria, absorbing every blow like a woman on the verge of collapse. But her final speech, the true emotional climax of the movie, burns with a righteous fury, even as the tears fill her eyes. Eastwood needed an actor of commanding stature to deliver weakness, then rage, then fragile strength, and Bates has deservedly earned the lion’s share of the movie’s acclaim.”

Bates commented, “All we wanted was for Bobi Jewell to feel the film vindicated her son. I wanted her to like my portrayal of her. She’s waited 23 years for justice. I’ve never felt quite like this before. Whatever happens now, I’m just grateful the film will get more eyeballs.”

Bates continued, “It was my birthday the day we met. She baked me a pound cake. She had the Vanity Fair article the movie is based on, and the script, which she’d annotated with things like: ‘I’d never do this, I’d never call him that.’ She was very meticulous. It was obvious she’s still absolutely raw from this, even 25 years later. It still affects her, and it’s never going to change.”

She loved working with Eastwood, recalling, “I remember telling him on the set: ‘I’ve been in this business half a century but working with you, I feel like I’ve hit the big time!’”

Bates took plenty of criticism earlier in her career for not being a beautiful starlet; she told The Guardian of a press conference after one film she was in: “One guy was so nasty that I went up to my room and I cried like a kid out of kindergarten. Our producer came in and said: ‘Kid, you’ve gotta get tough.’ And in the middle of everything I got on a plane and I went home. It was so cruel, so unnecessarily cruel.”

The Guardian reminded Bates that when she was promoting “Misery,” she stated, “A woman, a character actress, in her 40s – I’ll be very interested to see how Hollywood treats us over the next 10 or 15 years.”

Bates reacted, “Wow. I said that? Holy crap. I didn’t know I was such a smart cookie back then! It was my first big movie and I was stunned by the press. The very first question I got asked at a round table was: ‘You’re not Michelle Pfeiffer.’ And I was like: ‘No, I’m not!’ I was still very serious about things back then.”

Bates has survived ovarian cancer diagnosed in 2003 and had a double mastectomy in 2012. She then discovered she was suffering from lymphedema, which has triggered her to become the spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education and Research Network.