From the age of 12, Louise Turcot knew she was destined for the acting profession. A choice she never questioned. The publication of her book “Letters to a Young Actress”, in which she summarizes her memories and advice, was an opportunity to see her career, where personal and professional life have not always been easy to ‘ agreed.
Ms. Turcot, what is on your professional schedule?
I’m getting ready to play with my husband (Gilles Renaud) next spring, in a two-character show. “At What Time Do We Die?”, Which is a collage of texts by Réjean Ducharme, will be presented at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous. They are two teenagers who will play two seniors. It is also the publication of my book “Letter to a young actress”.
Did this writing exercise allow you to review your career, from your beginnings until today?
Yes, but I tried to add an autobiographical touch as well. I started in 1965. A lot has happened since then. This is a book that is addressed not only to young actresses, but also to those who dream of becoming one. I wanted to tell you that you can succeed without ever going to theater school, but vocational training helps a lot if you want a long-term career.
Your work has the merit of interest even for those who do not want to pursue a career in the field of games …
I wanted it to be of interest to everyone. Everyone can get what suits them. I was often offered to write my biography, but it was not an exercise that attracted me.
In what context did you choose to become an actress?
I fell in love with this profession when I was a child. I already had the deal. I was in a convent run by a nun where the emphasis was on the French language and the arts. I was shy in life, but not when it was time to go on stage. The first time I saw a show, I pulled away. I was 12 years old. It was precious to have a purpose, a passion and I never changed my mind. I had already told my mother that I wanted to become a doctor, a nun, a missionary. My mom realized I wanted to do theater.
Was your career choice well received?
My father was a free thinker. It did not bother him. My mother wanted me to be happy in life. What worried her was that I could not make a living. I have neither brother nor sister. I was raised by my mother and my grandmother. I lived in a small bladder. At the age of 16, love got involved in it all. I fell in love with a guy much older than me. I decided to leave my classical studies to do my auditions at the Conservatory. My mother was in all her condition!
Because as an only child, you were the project of her life …
In effect. She even called my dad when my parents hated each other! They had been separated since childhood. It was time, she said, for my dad to take care of me because I wanted to become an actress and marry a man who was 15 years older than me. I ate with my dad. He and I were seen twice a year. He had never shown much fatherly feelings towards me, I knew he was going to hell! It was short. He asked me if I had a chance to succeed and I said yes. Then he said about the next project …
The one that bothered your boyfriend?
Yes. This guy really wanted to marry me. My father proposed to me to come and live with him, but on one condition: not to get married and to be separated from my boyfriend in the next three months. I went to live with my father and ended the relationship. I discovered a life completely different from what I had with my mother. At the age of 16 I discovered literature, music, then wine and alcohol …
Were you somewhat relieved of your mother’s attention?
Yes. For this reason I had three children. I did not want a child who was alone. It is very difficult to be an only child. People tell me I was lucky, that I should not share it with others. I always say to them, “But I had my mother’s full attention!” It is heavy! She still had her eyes on me.
You mention a very touching passage where your daughter had health problems while you were on stage and you had to respect your commitment …
We have to be on stage, no matter what. It was horrible! I said this excerpt not to cause regret, but for people to understand that we are not robots: private life and professional life are very closely intertwined. I talk a lot about children and pregnancies because it was very important in my work. I learned a lot from all of them! Today I see my granddaughters playing and that fascinates me. They have an overflowing imagination! They have more than children of my generation, who grew up being told to shut up. There were many rules and restrictions … but I hit some of them! (laughs) My mother used to say that I always said yes to everything they asked me to do, but that I did what I wanted! (laughs)
You also recount the period when you played in the theater in the evening, while during the day you accompanied your mother to her death.
Yes, it was a very special period. It was because of the character I played. She was eventually ill and I shaved my head for my role (in 2006, her acting performance in the play “Wit”, in which she played Vivian Bearing, an emeritus college professor facing ovarian cancer, gave him an award, Editor’s Note). I went to meet my mother, who did not allow me to remove the land when I went to visit her. She was worried that people would think I had cancer. She asked me every day, “How do I die?” And I said, “I do not know … I only know how to pretend …”
How do you feel about aging in this profession?
It’s awful and is not improving! There are no women my age on TV. With cosmetic surgery, grandmothers are becoming more and more young. In this context I have to play the great-grandmother! (laughs) I will be 75 years old. I am a grandmother eight times. On television, the grandmother is 50 years old and has been “botoxized”. We actors do not dream of retirement, we dream of a few shootings here and there. It is not necessary to always have a leadership role. My boyfriend is privileged: he is a man … The elderly are not always grandparents, they can be company presidents. It’s crazy the charm they have as they get older! (to smile)
“Letter to a young actress” is published by the publisher VLB. Louise Turcot will present, with Gilles Renaud, “What time do we die?”, From April 14 to May 9, 2020, at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous (quatsous.com).