Jacqueline Bisset Hasn’t Gone Bonkers, She’ll Just Be More Composed Next Time

The British actress, whom Newsweek once called the most beautiful woman in film history, tells Haaretz she has gotten over her uneven acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.

Ruta Kupfer
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Ruta Kupfer

When British actress Jacqueline Bisset won a Golden Globe for playing the reclusive Lady Lavinia Cremone in the BBC miniseries “Dancing on the Edge,” her acceptance speech went viral. In that address two weeks ago, Bisset began with a long walk to the stage — mainly because her table was so far away, but also because she stopped for a word with actor John Voight. Then she looked surprised and touched and couldn’t say a word.

She didn’t manage to say much before the music began, signaling that her speech was over. Bisset ignored it, thanking the people who had given her joy, “and there have been many. And to the people who have given me shit, I say, like my mother — what did she say? She said, ‘Go to hell and don’t come back.’”

In an interview with her from Los Angeles, Bisset, who divides her time between Beverly Hills and London, says she was completely surprised to have won.

“I didn’t understand the whole category of that particular grouping of projects — miniseries, series,” she says. “It’s a very peculiar group, that category, and I thought: Well, we’re doing such completely different things that I don’t know how they can come up with a choice. But yes, I was absolutely caught. And I must say that the reaction to my speech was very difficult to deal with, and I felt very picked on.”

But she has gotten over it.

“I say that if people are in good faith, they would have known that if they’d just followed me after the award into the press room, and the conversations that followed with the press before and after, they would have seen that I was absolutely all right, that I hadn’t gone bonkers,” she says.

“I wasn’t drunk; I wasn’t anything that I was accused of being afterwards, which was rather unpleasant. However, on one level people thought it made the show fun to watch, so you never know where it’s coming from.”

Bisset has appeared in around 100 films and television series. In her 1965 debut “The Knack ... and How to Get It,” she appeared as an extra.

Over the years, she has worked with directors such as Francois Truffaut, Roman Polanski, John Huston and Claude Chabrol. Her television credits include the FX channel’s “Nip/Tuck.” In 1977, Newsweek chose her as the most beautiful woman in film history, and at the Golden Globes she proved she is still one of the most beautiful and impressive actresses.

“Dancing on the Edge,” which takes place in London in 1932 and 1933, focuses on the relationship between Stanley Mitchell (Matthew Goode), a young journalist with working-class roots, and an African-American jazz ensemble led by Louis Lester (Chiwetel Ejiofor, who played the lead in “12 Years a Slave”).

The series, which deals with relationships between ensemble members and British aristocrats, touches on issues such as racism, fame, love and loyalty. Bisset’s character is a well-connected philanthropist.

Bisset says she joined “Dancing on the Edge” because she had long wanted to do quality work with the BBC. Sure enough, director Stephen Poliakoff had long wanted to work with her.

For her screen test, Bisset received her long and complex text just a short time before the audition. Though overwhelmed, she was highly impressed with the writing. She was also glad to be part of the cast, which also included John Goodman.

Since “Dancing on the Edge,” Bisset has starred in Abel Ferrara’s “Welcome to New York” – the film follows the fall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and his relationship with his wife, Anne Sinclair.

Bisset plays Sinclair opposite Gerard Depardieu. Strauss-Kahn, who had been considered a possible candidate for the French presidency, had to step down amid charges, later dropped, that he sexually assaulted a hotel employee in New York.

Bisset notes that Sinclair is an interesting, talented and beautiful woman with enormous energy. “The more I learned about her, the more impressed I was,” she says.

In her Golden Globe speech, Bisset said forgiveness makes people beautiful; to forgive oneself and others. So has she forgiven the media?

“I know that they have a job to do, but I do think it’s getting a bit out of hand,” Bisset says. “I had a tremendous surprise, and public speaking is difficult. You don’t want to burst into tears, so you try to hold it back. You prepare yourself to not win. But if I ever won anything again, I hope I would be more composed.”

Jacqueline Bisset at the Golden Globes, January 14, 2014. Credit: Reuters
Jacqueline Bisset accepting the Golden Globe award for her role in 'Dancing on the Edge.'Credit: AP
Jacqueline Bisset as Lady Cremone in a scene from 'Dancing On the Edge.'Credit: AP
Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his ex-wife Anne Sinclair.Credit: Reuters

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