With Lady Di holding out for the money and Fergie wanting to model, thank heavens for Britain's other royal family. ..its actors. Miranda Richardson follows in the exalted tradition of Sir Laurence Olivier and Dames Maggie Smith and Peggy Ashcroft: an actor with a capital A who has little tolerance for the banality of promoting a movie.
Richardson, 38, has been known to treat writers with the same disdain that most Brits hold for people who drink weak beer -"piss water," as they call it. The actress has divulged a few sketchy details of her life:
The daughter of a marketing executive and a housewife, Richardson grew up with her older sister in a seaside town north of Liverpool. Today she lives in a modest London neighborhood with her two Siamese cats, Waldo and Otis.
"That's why they call it personal," she has said when asked for more intimate details of her life.
And for God's sake, don't inquire as to whether she's related to any of those other famous Richardsons (she's not).
Richardson's own profile increased dramatically in 1992, when she played the dowdy Rose in Enchanted April, the middle-aged wife of Jeremy Irons in Damage and the IRA terrorist who changes identities with bewildering speed in The Crying Game.
"Oh, God, you know, I did the rounds," she says of the time. "Obviously I didn't see anything that I ended up doing."
That is, until now. This month, Richardson can be seen as the opiated wife of an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Robert Altman's Kansas City, and later this year she'll rival Shirley MacLame for Bill Paxton's affections in The Evening Star, the sequel to Terms of Endearment.
You've been compared to Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson...
I don't know what it means, comparisons like that. I think it's sort of lazy, really. I don't think I'm like either one of them.
What finally lured you back toHollywood?
Well, Altman is a maverick. I think his work is terrific.
How did you achieve that drug-induced haze tbroughout tbe film?
I'm afraid I didn't find that too difficult. I can be quite spacey sometimes, so I guess it was just tapping into that.
This isnt the first time you've played an emotionally tortured woman. What does immersing yourself in tbat kind of cbaracter do to your psyche?
You have to be prepared for people to assume that there's some kind of link between you and these characters, that you have a tragic existence off screen, which isn't the case. It's acting, and it stops there.
You went to theater school with Daniel Day-Lewis. Wbat was he like?
He used to run eight miles every lunchtime. He was very sweet-natured, and then he'd do something extraordinary at the cabaret at the end of the year, very sort of punk. That was another side of him coming out.
You've been to the Oscars. Anything to share?
I remember some idiot asking me-because it doesn't matter if you won or not, they ask you the same idiotic question: [Whiny voice] "What does it feel like?" That was the year that [David] Letterman hosted, so I said, "Well, do you remember Sadie the spinning dog? It's kind of like that."
You've said that 'Damage' was a difficult shoot. Has too much been made of the problems you had working with Louis Malle and Jeremy Irons?
Oh, yeah. People are desperate for anything to talk about. If somebody is too frightened by something in an article to ever give me a job, well then, maybe I shouldn't be working with them anyway. That's how l have to look at it. I think it's dumb.
Did you have a better experience working on 'The Crying Game'?
I liked working with Stephen (Rea) enormously. I'm sure he won't mind my saying this: I remember he decided not to drink during shooting 'cause, you know, long hours and being able to do his job properly. I think it made him a bit miserable.
It must have been a wild wrap
Well, I don't remember it so well, so, yeah, I had a very good time.
Do you ever see Jaye Davidson?
I don't know what he's up to. It wasn't a hugely social film. Some movies are, and some aren't. I mean, you're lucky if you I make a good friend in this business. You make a hell of a lot of acquaintances.