At the movies

‘Last Vegas’ star Mary Steenburgen: casting dreams do come true

 
 
steenburgen
steenburgen
Jason Merritt / Getty Images for GLAAD

Mary Steenburgen can die a happy woman.

In her latest movie, Last Vegas, about a Hangover-esque senior-citizen bachelor party, the 60-year-old actress had the chance to costar with some of her favorite men in the biz — Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. The movie opens Friday.

We caught up with the Arkansas native, who plays a tax attorney turned lounge singer:

How fun was it shooting in Vegas?

It’s been a crazy time. I had only been here once before filming part of [1980’s] Melvin & Howard. That turned out well so maybe this is my lucky town. It’s not like anywhere else in the world. Las Vegas is about dreams — dashed ones and hopeful ones. There are so many memories here that connect us: Viva Las Vegas, The Rat Pack. It’s a place all of us can relate to in a way.

Did you gamble? How do fans react when they see you in casinos?

Yeah! I’m up about $150, and I’m perfectly comfortable walking away. That doesn’t make me very interesting but probably pretty sane. As far as the rest of the guys, they created quite a stir wherever we went. Then there’s me, walking around with my husband Ted Danson. He is tall, and his hair is very white. Like the [ Cheers] song goes, ‘Everybody knows his name.’

So how was it working with all these famous actors?

I’d worked briefly with Kevin [in 2001’s Life as a House] but amazingly, no one else. They’d always been on my dream list. To have four of them together, wow. We had this instant, crazy chemistry. We sat around telling stories and laughing about people we had in common. They treated me really sweetly and respectfully, like one of the guys, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

All four won Oscars. Any clashing egos?

There wasn’t a diva in the bunch. I think we are old enough and grown up enough to drink it all in. All of us have done a lot of movies and there was the ability to delight in the moment. We’re not checking our cellphone constantly about the next job or worrying if we’re not getting noticed enough or who has more star power. At this point in our lives, nothing existed but each other in this moment in time.

You look fantastic in your new bangs. What’s your beauty secret?

[Good genes] is the best answer I can give. The other parts are boring. I don’t get to go drinking late at night and eat everything I want. I do have to exercise. No one wants to hear that. There are periods where I go, ‘Screw it!’ but then I immediately put on about 10 pounds. Whenever I’m on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I drink and eat like a pig, and you can see it: the poochy tummy, the bigger butt. Now at this age, it’s kind of instant. I’m not big on deprivation. When I need to be good for work I get in line.

What’s next?

I shot a little indie called Song One with Anne Hathaway and a wonderful Welsh singer named Johnny Flynn. I recently came out of the closet as a songwriter — I wrote Cup of Trouble for Last Vegas — so when I’m not acting I frequently head to Nashville where I write blues, country, jazz, all of it. I’m also learning to play the accordion [a Valentine’s Day gift from Danson]. I’m not great, but I hope to be. That might be one bizarre explanation for good biceps!

Madeleine Marr

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