Holland did an interview with Vulture and spoke about Sarah multiple times … including how they are handling quarantine.
Holland Taylor knows the type of woman she’s been famous for playing for decades. An elegant, high-powered bitch with a delicious sense of irony. Usually rich, usually divorced, usually the smartest person in the room. Acidic and authoritative, but unbelievably charming. Playful but self-assured, a mischievous smile playing about her lips as she decimates some poor wretch who just happened to get in her way. Taylor also knows she’s long been the sort of actor who pops briefly into a scene, drops a few incredible one-liners, laughs richly to herself, then departs, completely reorganizing the molecules of a film or TV show in the process. “In most of the movies I’m in, it’s like dropping a pearl in a bottle,” Taylor says when I reach her over Zoom at her home in Los Angeles. “That’s what an acting teacher once said to me about character actors, particularly in movies. You might have one scene that took one day to shoot — although they usually take more — and be an indelible part of the movie.”
But Taylor tells me that, as of a few years ago, she’s done playing the archly hilarious and the devastatingly chic. Recently, she concluded what she describes as the project of her lifetime, playing former Texas governor Ann Richards in a one-woman show that she wrote and starred in after years of intensive research. She’s also just landed an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of studio exec Ellen Kincaid on Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood, and is about to star as the Great Leader in the upcoming Bill and Ted (which looks to be a sort of riff on Taylor’s previous typecasting). This phase of her career, she explains, came to pass after she told her agents, “In the last chapter, my third act, I’m going to play characters that are very different” from the roles she’s well-known for: the high-strung matriarchs (Two and a Half Men), the intimidating judges (The Practice), the billionaire divorcées (The L Word, among others).
There is at least one of those roles, however, that Taylor still loves to talk about: Professor Stromwell in the 2001 fish-out-of-water comedy Legally Blonde. As is often the case, Taylor only has a handful of scenes in the film, but they’re completely delectable and impossible to forget: Taylor manages to strike down and help raise up fledgling lawyer Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) with only a few sentences. I asked Taylor to recall some of her favorite memories from filming Legally Blonde, which turned into a much larger conversation about her career of characters, her relationship with longtime partner Sarah Paulson, why she never played the ingenue, and how her fierce independence once got in the way of lasting connections.
Hi! How are you and where are you?
I’m in Los Angeles at the moment. I don’t know when I’m going to see my property in New York again. It’s been five months.
So you’ve been there the whole time?
I mean, it’s probably much safer in New York now than here. It’s pretty scary.
It is. Where are you in L.A.? Where are you staying?
I have a house here in the low hills. I mean, I’m an elder, so I’m not supposed to be going out and about. And it feels very, very strange after only four months. I’m afraid we’ve got a while to go.
Are you quarantining by yourself or are you with Sarah?
Sarah has a house about five minutes from me. So we spend the long weekend up at her house, and I’m by myself here for two days, and we spend one day together here. So we go back and forth. That’s actually good to be moving around, to have change, because it’s like — life is really, really strange. And of course, I won’t be able to work until this is over. Except for very unusual circumstances. I don’t know what it will be like when actors can really be in a big film production, 150 people.
That sounds kind of like an ideal relationship scenario regardless. Having time together and apart.
I think it is. I mean, we’re mostly together, and we both have a little time where you just don’t have anybody to answer to, without any sort of accommodating someone else’s plans. So it’s good for me because I’m older, and I’ve been so independent all my life, so it works out well.
I read an interview with you where you said, “In a way I think I kind of blew my middle years.” What did you mean by that?
Well, I’ve never been ambitious in the sense of thinking of things to do to advance yourself to be seen, or to just socially meet with the people that you would meet in show business — other writers and directors and other people in the field. Why wouldn’t they be your friends? You’re in the same world. And most of the people I know are in show business. But I was pretty much a loner, so I never built networks of friends, which some people do just by living because they’re gregarious and outgoing. Like Sarah Paulson. I don’t know anyone who has so many really good friends. And she is very committed to those friendships and talks to them regularly on the phone. Doesn’t let too much time go by before they see one another. And keeps up with what they’re doing and their children and their lives and their jobs.
I don’t have that network at all. I was very isolated. Somebody asked me what are my favorite things to do the other day, and I said “Walking in the city. Walking alone in the city. Walking the boulevards. Just strolling.”
I’m curious how you square your sense of independence and love of solitude with being in this relatively public relationship. I love how you and Sarah tweet at each other. You have this lovely dynamic, but it seems sort of in opposition to what you were saying about the way you like to live your life.
I never thought of that. As I say, I live my life in public. I do everything that I would do if I were an unknown person married to a man. I just live my life. And so if I happen to be seen in public, I’m not trying to be something that I’m not. But on the same token, I don’t talk with any depth about my private life because it’s not my personal style. But tweeting about Sarah’s show that she’s in and how wonderful she is, or even our personal tweets that we do back and forth, is not deeply personal. Or let’s say — it’s not private. I don’t have private communications with her in public. I don’t talk about the private aspect of our relationship in public. But I exist … I live in the public. And so I’m on Twitter. I love Twitter. Sarah doesn’t do Twitter so much.
I do love your Twitter.
Thank you. Well, I have a lot of opinions. I also have a lot of questions. I tweet some things to see what the response will be, because I wonder if the way I’m feeling about something, if I’m alone, or if a lot of people share the same point of view. I’m actually sort of tweeting less — I have less to say about everything. But I’m so gobsmacked by the activity of the president, where it’s just — every day it’s more and more unbelievable. So it’s not like I have a lot of fresh things to say. You can only say, “Oh my God,” so many times. “OMG.” Like just tweet, “OMG” every day.
To read the entire interview go here.