Long before dishing lesbian wisdom to Melissa McCarthy’s mess of a character in this summer’s road-trip comedy Tammy, which opens tomorrow, Kathy Bates had the gay community in shackles. It didn’t take a sledgehammer to maintain our obsession with her … it just took the Hollywood icon’s every turn on television (Six Feet Under, American Horror Story), Broadway (’Night, Mother) and the big screen (Titanic, Misery, which won her an Oscar).
Notably with Fried Green Tomatoes, her 1991 girl dramedy, and then with Dolores Claiborne and Primary Colors, the SMU alumna has kept us captivated for four decades, bound to her boundless greatness. Now, as one half of a lesbian couple in Tammy (Sandra Oh of Grey’s Anatomy plays her partner), she’s giving you one more reason to be her biggest fan. Our Chris Azzopardi sat down with her to discuss the gay boys she first met in Dallas, kissing girls and her drag impersonators.
Dallas Voice: I’ve never been to an all-lesbian party, but based on the one your character, Lenore, throws in Tammy, clearly I’ve been missing out. Kathy Bates: You have. It was a lot of fun! It really was. And there was a scene that was cut out of the movie where all the lesbian women on the dock were singing “Fire,” the Bruce Springsteen song, which was pretty fun.
You really can’t go wrong with some lesbians and The Boss. No, no, no. It’s a sure thing.
Tell me about the best lesbian party you’ve ever been to. I don’t know if I’ve been to a lesbian party quite like the one we have in Tammy. I’ve known and loved many lesbians in my life … but I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten them all into the same room at the same time! I always imagined that my and Sandra’s characters lived in a very small town, so I think many of these lesbians they’ve known were shipped in and probably work in Lenore’s [pet] shops in other towns, that it’s an annual thing and they come in and hang out for the holiday.
Melissa said your chemistry with Sandra was instantly palpable. Who are some other women you could see yourself going lesbian for onscreen? Let me think about that. I’m just absolutely in love with Sandra, and let me just say that she really brought our relationship to bloom. She brought a lot of love and warmth, and it was her idea to have wedding rings, which I hadn’t thought about, and also, really, to think that our relationship is the healthiest relationship in the movie.
You know, we’re non-judgmental, and [in] my scene on the dock with Melissa, it was important for me to be able to ad-lib how difficult it is — or was, especially 20, 25 years ago — for lesbian women to come out. I think almost more difficult than for men to come out as gay. She brought just so much love, and she really helped create the little bubble of our relationship, and now I have forgotten your question. Oh, whom else would I like to be with. Ahh, let’s see. Who do I love? Oh, I could totally see this: I shared a plane trip with Uma Thurman once and I thought she was pretty cool. I could see doing a movie with her and having a lesbian relationship — although I’m much too old for her!