Laura Liguori (Photo by Theo and Juliet).
LOS ANGELES - Laura Liguori relishes in delighting audiences with her keen portrayals of unique characters and actual persons. Whether it's portraying a drug addicted teen in 'The Gary Plays,' Marilyn Monroe in "Marilyn, Madness and Me," or ill-fated actress Peg Entwistle in the recently released "Hollywood Girl: The Peg Entwistle Story" now streaming on Amazon Prime, Liguori is an eclectic artist with a range that most actresses can only dream of.
With a true passion for her art and a love for captivating stories and deep characters, Liguori is making her mark with her work in the theater, films and television. Her work in the theater includes Murray Mednick's critically acclaimed "Mayakovsky and Stalin," opposite Maury Sterling of "Homeland," as well as Tania Wisbar's "The Red Dress" along with the eclectic series of plays "The Gary Plays." Her film and TV work includes “Boogie Dilemma” (2015), ABC's “Suburgatory,” NBC's “Growing Up Fisher,” “Love Lust and a Room Key” (2014) and many others.
Today, the talented actor shares her vision about her life and work in an engaging interview with SoReckless:
SoReckless: What attracted you to “Hollywood Girl: The Peg Entwistle Story” and how do you think modern audiences will relate to this story of a girl who died 80 years ago?
Laura Liguori: I first heard about Peg Entwistle a few years ago. A friend was telling me the legend that her spirit has been seen, by many people over the years, wondering around the Hollywood Sign. Legend has it that each sighting comes along with a strong smell of gardenias, but there aren’t any flowers present. Then soon after people have seen a young woman in 1930’s clothing crying and wandering around up near the sign, seemingly lost, and then within moments she just fades away. After doing my own research on Peg, I was drawn to the story, I noticed how the media painted her as a ‘failed starlet’. That was wrong. She was a very accomplished Broadway actress. She was extremely talented. The media painted her that way to cover up any mistreatment she suffered from being mistreated by RKO picture studio heads. They recently canceled her contract, and cut her from the film “13 Women” because she played a kind of ‘Lesbian role”. I also read about how the day her body was found a telegram came for her stating an offer for a leading role. She gave up just a few days too soon! I was surprised there wasn’t a film done on her story!I definitely think modern audiences will relate to Peg’s story! Unless you live under a rock, most people have had heart break, suffered through rejection, lost hope, lost a love…life isn’t easy, at least for most people, and so I definitely think people can relate to Peg’s sadness.
SR: How did you prepare to play Peg Entwistle? Did you study 1930s Hollywood and read about her?
LL: To prepare, I studied these recorded radio interviews that she did, and read reviews on her past stage performances. There isn’t a lot of information on ‘who’ she was as a person, so I had to come up with that myself, with the help of the director, James Pomitcher. I definitely researched 1930’s Hollywood and The Great Depression, there was a lot of despair during that era. Also, actors talked in this funny transatlantic accent - a mixture between standard American and British. Peg was originally from Wales and had a British/transatlantic twinge, but on stage she used American. It was tricky.
Laura Liguori in costume on the set of "Hollywood Girl: The Peg Entwistle Story," which is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
SR: What is your approach to portraying an actual person compared to a fictional character? Is it more difficult to portray a real person than a fictional one?
LL:I prefer to play an actual person compared to a fictional one because it’s more of a psychic challenge in a way. I don’t really have an approach, either way I use everything I’ve got inside me (physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, all my memory) and I leap hoping some net will appear.
SR: Sometimes actors get overwhelmed by portraying a real character, like Jim Carrey when he portrayed Andy Kaufman in “Man on the Moon.” He admitted he began taking on his characteristics and began suffering some of Kaufman’s pain about his life. Did you run into that or how did you avoid becoming overwhelmed?
LL:I try to avoid this long term..its not healthy. While playing a role..on occasion..it bleeds over a little bit. That's why staying fit, eating well, and having a strong spiritual practice is very important for artists especially. For their longevity.
SR: You also do a lot of theater, talk about the attraction of the theater for you. What makes it special to you?
LL: The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the "seeing place." If I could live in a theatre, I would. It’s the love of my life. I believe all actors (the real ones) come from the theatre. It is magical, and the best teacher of the human condition because the art form is "live" and changing every night. Becoming something new. Great theatre can touch very deep into your subconscious..change a you for the better.
SR: You’ll also be heading to New York for an off-Broadway run of “Mayakovsky and Stalin,” where you’ll star with Maury Sterling of “Homeland.” What is that play about and how do you feel about going before a sophisticated theater crowd in New York?
LL:I am really looking forward to play the role Lilya Brik for a New York crowd! The smarter the audience the better! "Mayakovsky and Stalin” is written and directed by master playwright, Murray Mednick. It is a dramatic character study incorporating historical footage and projections to explore two distantly connected relationships: that of Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and his married lover and "muse," Lilya Brik, and of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his wife Nadya. The play traces the parallel stories of these two couples. Lilya was an actress who convinced Stalin, after Mayakovsky's suicide, to restore Mayakovsky to the canon of accepted Soviet poets. Nadya committed suicide during a state dinner, renouncing both her husband and his policies. It's about the repercussions of power, about the push and pull between secularism and religion.
To learn more, visit www.LauraLiguori.com or visit her imdb page at www.imdb.com/name/nm2266584.