Estelle Parsons Interview: ‘Roseanne’
Estelle Parsons was “a little concerned” when she was first approached about reviving the role of Beverly Harris in “Roseanne.” “I work in the theater all the time,” she explains, and when she reads plays about aging “they’re very often about someone who’s getting dementia” or “they’re just kind of outrageous.” So she decided she wouldn’t return to the ABC sitcom if the writers made her “into one of these people that I know is not what old age is all about.” Luckily, they exceeded her “wildest expectations,” and the actress reprised her role alongside original cast members Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, and Michael Fishman. Watch our exclusive video interview with Parsons above.
In the episode “No Country for Old Women,” Beverly is forced to leave her nursing home after giving gonorrhea to multiple residents, so her daughters Roseanne (Barr) and Jackie (Metcalf) argue over which one of them will have to take her in. “In my family, I’ve never had that,” recalls Parsons of her own experiences with her parents (at 90-years-old, the actress is still living independently). So she couldn’t directly relate to the story, “which is that none of them wanted me to live with them. That would be a terrible thing to find that out.” In the end Beverly moves in with Jackie, who’s “going to make a real effort to find a relationship with her mother.”
Parsons won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for the groundbreaking film “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967). She then competed in that category once more the following year for “Rachel, Rachel” (1968). In addition, she has contended four times at the Tonys: Best Actress in a Play for “The Seven Descents of Myrtle” (1968), “And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little” (1971), and “Miss Margarida’s Way” (1978), and Best Featured Actress in a Play for “Mornings at Seven” (2002). But surprisingly, she was never nominated at the Emmys during the original run of “Roseanne.” Could she reap a Best Comedy Guest Actress bid for the revival?