At 83 years young, Lynn Cohen is barely slowing down.
The Hollywood veteran — who is likely best known to a younger generation as Magda, Miranda’s feisty yet maternal nanny in “Sex and the City” or Mags, an elderly contestant fighting for her life in “The Hunger Games” — is starring in the comedy, “The Pickle Recipe,” now in theaters.
Cohen plays Rose, the proud owner of a coveted dill pickle recipe passed down through generations. In need of quick cash, Rose’s grandson (comedian Jon Dore, TV’s “Speechless”) conspires to steal said recipe.
But no worries — there’s no senior abuse going on here. The movie’s a comedy, and Rose is as tough as nails. Safe to say, the secret ingredients won’t be given up without a fight.
While Cohen was in Miami, we spoke to the actress, whose staggering 91 acting credits include the part of Golda Meir in “Munich” and the hapless victim Lillian House in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”
What attracted you to the script?
I liked how much strength this character showed. She stood up to the plate and never backed down because she didn’t want to commercialize her product. Rose reminded me of my own grandmother, also an immigrant who was from Ukraine. Here was a woman who worked until the day she died. She was very much in my thoughts while I was completing this movie. She was also the greatest cook in the world. I remember her kitchen and all the smells that came out of it.
What was the experience like shooting?
Pretty light. I mean, it’s funny but has plenty of crazy. Rose’s son [David Paymer] is a lost cause and her grandson’s a little cuckoo. She is trying to teach them both to do the right thing and stay on the right path and that’s her struggle. But it ends happily. I loved the people I worked with. We had a terrific young director, Michael Manasseri. Everyone was very open and wonderful and listened to what I could bring to the table so the work could be good as it could be.
Of all your dozens of projects, do you have a favorite?
I’ve worked with so many of the greats: Louis Malle on “Vanya on 42nd Street.” And of course Woody Allen [also in “Deconstructing Harry.”] And the brilliant Tom McCarthy on “The Station Agent.” He was nominated for best director for “Spotlight.” So that is a tough question. But I would say most people know me most recently for “Hunger Games” lately. All of it’s been terrific. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve gotten to do some great TV stuff too — “Nurse Jackie, “Damages.” I even did “The Affair,” for God’s sake! I was the only one who kept my clothes on.
How fun was it working on “SATC?”
Oh, so fun. You’d be shocked how many people still come up to me — a 90-year-old women — and say, ‘I never mentioned the word “sex” in my life before that show.’ It opened up a whole new world. It was about these individuals struggling to find themselves. The show itself was a very special, unique experience, shot more like a film than a television program. In any case, I loved it. And my doorman in New York City is still obsessed with Sarah Jessica Parker. He always asks me about her!
So at 83, what’s your secret sauce? How do you keep working so steadily?
I give a lot of credit to my husband [of 52 years, “Pickle Recipe” costar Ron Cohen]. I live with the most amazing man in the world. He’s very brilliant and loves me working. Or maybe he just wants to get me out of the house! [Laughs.] No, really, I am very blessed. I will work until I fall over and then that will be the end.