I’ve been there with Ellen Burstyn in a lot of films, but my all-time favorite moment was the way she said to Bruce Dern‘s relentlessly boastful and mouthy character in The King of Marvin Gardens, “You’re full of shit!” The frazzled, end-of-the-road, Uzi-spray impatience in her voice, I mean. It tells you she’s said this to Dern so many times she can barely stand to hear it again, but she has to. Because he won’t quit, because he can’t, because he’s gone over the falls and so has she.
This memory came back after looking at some photos on Burstyn’s new website, which is up to promote her book “Lessons In Becoming Myself.” The press release says it’s “candid, raw, no-holds-barred book.” Burstyn has ended up in a very spiritually whole and connected place — you can see that in her face. I haven’t been sent her book, but reading about finding peace and wisdom isn’t all that interesting…and I hope it’s not about that too much.
I love these two events i(seriously) in her autogiobraphcal timeline:
January 5, 1970. At the age of thirty-seven, Burstyn chooses her current name.
Easter weekend, 1999. Burstyn goes on a spiritual retreat for three days, living on the streets of New York City with no money and no identification. A few weeks later, she forgets her wallet and is once again in New York without money or ID, but feels “completely safe and at home, not just here, but anywhere.”