Cicely Tyson: ‘I got angry’ about adapting ‘Trip to Bountiful’ to TV (audio podcast)

(Left to right: Moderator Shaun Robinson, Blair Underwood, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson, Director Michael Wilson, Producer Hallie Foote)

“Oh, we fought a lot” on the set of Lifetime’s Emmy contender “The Trip to Bountiful,” recalled acting legend Cicely Tyson Wednesday night at the TV Academy in North Hollywood.

“I didn’t think it was humanly possible” for director Michael Wilson to adapt main character Mrs. Carrie Watts from Broadway stage to television, Tyson continued. “I mean, look at this theater. How can you go from this expansive, broad character that reaches to the last row in the balcony, to just a miniature screen? How do you do that? And I fought with [Wilson]. I got angry with him. But finally I decided to give up and let him do whatever he felt like doing.”

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Tyson won a Tony Award last year for playing Carrie Watts in the Broadway version of “The Trip to Bountiful,” and Geraldine Page won an Oscar for portraying her in the 1985 film version. If Tyson wins an Emmy for the same role, that essentially means Carrie Watts is just the “G” away from being the first fictional character to earn the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).

When Tyson was asked about her thoughts on the recent passing of Maya Angelou, she recalled with a smile, “I think she said it best herself. ‘When great trees fall’… exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point.”

Among the other highlights from the evening at the TV Academy: Blair Underwood discussed replacing Cuba Gooding Jr. for the television project and being the new guy on set, Vanessa Williams explained that the tiny white hair on Tyson’s chin during the movie was an acting choice made by Tyson to make the character seem older, and Wilson revealed that the film shockingly only took 15 days to shoot, which is why they weren’t able to film as many exterior shots as he originally planned.

Moderator Shaun Robinson (Access Hollywood) congratulated the cast and crew for receiving three nominations at the 4th Annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards: Best TV Movie, Best Actress for Cicely Tyson and Best Supporting Actor for Blair Underwood.

Tyson ended the evening by explaining that, after watching Geraldine Page in the movie version back in 1985, she was “absolutely stunned by her performance.” Tyson immediately went to her agent’s office and pleaded, “You get me my ‘Trip to Bountiful,’ and I will retire. Well….”

According to Gold Derby’s exclusive Emmy predictions, “The Trip to Bountiful” is in second-place to win Best TV Movie with odds of 9/2 while Tyson enjoys leading odds of 21/10 to claim Best Movie/Mini Actress and Underwood sit in seventh-place odds of 25/1 for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor.

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Listen to audio podcast of the evening below, then vote for Emmy’s Best TV Movie using our easy drag-and-drop menu.

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