One of the absolute pleasures of getting to do a series like The Actor’s Side is sitting down with a certified legend like Rita Moreno, which is exactly what I got to do for this week’s special two-part edition of our Emmy season crop of interviews. Just about everything this Oscar-, Emmy-, Tony- and Grammy-winning star said was pure gold. At 85, she is still going strong and looks about 20 years younger (and she is the first to say that, by the way).
Currently back on television as Lydia, the wise, loving and outrageously funny grandmother on Norman Lear’s Netflix reboot of his classic sitcom One Day At A Time, Moreno was in rare form when we sat down recently at our Deadline studio. Nothing was off limits and we covered the waterfront, including the fact she was among the very first EGOT winners (in fact she still holds the record for achieving that landmark showbiz mark in the shortest amount of time). She talks winning the Oscar for West Side Story 1962 and then not making another film for seven years due to lack of good roles. She talks also about her own Golden Age of Hollywood musicals including roles in such iconic films as The King And I and her favorite, Singin’ In The Rain. She also talks candidly about other landmark movies in which she had a role, especially 1971’s Carnal Knowledge in which she had a memorable scene opposite Jack Nicholson, to say the least.
We also discuss diversity and the difficulty she encountered trying to play something other than a Latina spitfire when she started out in movies; her TV work, including the children’s classic The Electric Company; and now her first project with 95-year-old Norman Lear and the great opportunity that it has brought her in the new world of binge TV.
Oh, she also dishes on her affairs with both Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley; the latter she says she dated just to make Brando mad. It worked.
Click above to watch Part 1 of our interview and below for Part 2.