Elizabeth Taylor on Martha: The Mother Of Us All

Elizabeth Taylor as Martha in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?/Captured by Bob Willoughby

Interview with Elizabeth Taylor
Conducted by James Grissom

I had no problem understanding Martha. All of us have elements of Martha, the mother of us all. We all have a history of failure and stupid gestures and dreams that died on a long, dry road that didn't get us out of town. That's Martha. There are a lot of dead babies--or dreams--still harvesting in her belly, as Richard [Burton] told me, and that was a great image and idea to have. Martha was fat from booze and inactivity and the pregnancy of those dead dreams. And when we--the Marthas--don't get what we want, we cry and stomp and bray. Martha is every child of two or three, angry, wordy, and with access to the liquor. Martha is scary, but I got her.

Mike Nichols directing Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).

© 2014 James Grissom


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