Actress Patti French on Topics Raised in POMS & Hulu’s ‘The Act’

ATM: Describe how different the world would be if we were given a random age when coming into Earth instead of aging upward.

PF: Today, seeing 30 years old, this was kind of the way we used to be in my generation. At 18 or 20, you got out of the school and moved out of your parents’ house and then started working. Now, things are different. Probably, on the back end, this is also different because how our parents were in the 50s and 60s are how we are now. We go a lot longer. In some areas as far as maturity and responsibility, now some younger are probably not as mature about some things. They are not expected to be. For me, I do not think life started until 40. If I could have picked one age to stop at it would be 40.

ATM: Why?

PF: Because I looked very good. I had learned a bunch of things. I was a lot smarter than in my 20s and 30s. This is also an amazing time for an actress with all the great roles, especially in theatre. This is all philosophical and metaphorical.  

ATM: What if age did not exist and we just went on maturity based off the moral compass of POMS?

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PF: Most people might think the film is about achieving a bucket list. A bucket list is a list of things to do before you die. I have come to the conclusion after doing the movie and also going through the opening to the movie that there are things still happening in your late 60s. This was an epiphany I had. Then, I started to look at things. There is a saying once you get older, “This is not my first rodeo.” This is my first rodeo. I had never made a movie with Diane Keaton. I was a cheerleader and also walked the red carpet. This was exciting. This might be a better way to start looking at things.

ATM: Typically, how does an older person view a young person?

PF: For me, sometimes with complete nonunderstanding and with complete empathy of understanding. I am sure young people look at older people and say, “What is going on with them?” They might express something that an older person has already gone through. Sometimes it seems like we are not talking the same language, but we are. Partly this is the fault of when you get older thinking they do not know as much as you. This is totally not the case. I work with a lot of young people. It keeps you young, but it is easy to get into. I know I do with the music. I think all of the great music came out of the 60s and 70s. I liked all older music as well.

ATM: As it relates to the film, explain the progression of the word “fun” as it is associated with age.

PF: I used to do a lot of things while young that were considered fun and now, they are not considered fun anymore. A lot of this has to do with stamina and the hours of the day. I could work all day and go out dancing to 3am and get up to do it again. It was fun. While younger there is this feeling that you cannot miss anything, and everything is that important. Sometimes as you get older you realize you have to pick and choose. You have to prioritize the things you want to do. Sometimes you need more sleep and cannot go as long. Maybe choosing large crowds is something that is not enjoyable to me anymore. I cannot really say this because attending the Jazz Festival in New Orleans every year is still fun. I might not bounce back as fast as I used to. I still love, music, dancing, and people.

ATM: With the characters in this film never stopping to dream, do you believe your dream in your life stayed the same or did you keep adding to it as life progressed?

PF: Some of my dreams stayed the same. Probably my main dream of wanting to be an actress and entertainer. I always had it from while young and still do. I have done a lot of different things in my life. If you have longevity, then sometimes you do a lot of other things to keep going with the career. I always told myself that if there was ever something else, “If I ever ran into something that could be done just as much or more, then I would do it.” I have not. I feel the most in my element and the best about myself. I do not feel like an outsider. Dreams change. You have to break them down into little pieces. There are still dreams that have nothing to do with my career. I still want to travel to a lot of other places. You can have a one really big dream and have this all your life to continue with it. Then, you can find new things that you did not know you could do. This could be speaking a foreign language.

ATM: Express details about your character’s goals.

PF: My character Phyllis loved to dance. She loved to be a part of the team and was a team player. This was her goal. She found a group of girls. These group of girls allowed her to have fun and dance. Phyllis is also the life of the party.

ATM: In Hulu’s The Act, what are qualities that make a mother and daughter relationship toxic.

PF: Anything you saw in the series between the mother and daughter was toxic. I am a mother and grandmother. My daughter and granddaughter spent Mother’s Day weekend with me. My granddaughter is grown in her 20s. I married very young and had my daughter very young. I raised her sort of on my own. With young mothers and daughter, we talked about this, we have to stick with each other. There were probably sometimes she felt like the mother to me.

This is not unusual if your mother is 18 or 19. Mother and daughter relationships can be complicated. Toxic and complicated are two different things. I would imagine there are a lot of things all parents do. They make mistakes. They think they’re doing the best for their children. If you want your children to grow into healthy adults and be happy, then you might make a mistake along the way. This does happen, but this is not like keeping your child sick, young, and lying to them. This is a whole different game.

ATM: How has the way we perceive the role of the mother changed in film and television?

PF: In this day and age, the main difference in perception is that we view them as human beings. This is whether they work, take care of their children, have a career and if they were flawed. We sill understand this. We did not start to see this in film or television until maybe the 80s. They were not fully rounded characters, but they were perfect or complete monsters. There was not a mixture. You see a lot of mother and relationships in films in the last five years. It is a bit of a mixed bag. You see everyone making their mistakes right in front of each other. They are like human beings. This is the way women and men are.

ATM: From your opinion, what is your definition of a mother?

PF: I just read something about this. I will paraphrase it. A mother is your very first home and the first place you ever lived. This is your mom. It is tragic when you see things happen to young children.

ATM: Give details on your character in this series.

PF: My character never meets the mother. She is a very common sense, logic, and observant person. She sees something and realizes something is not right. She picks up on the details and is very intuitive. She is a desk clerk at a hotel. You can well imagine all the stuff she sees. My character picks up on things when they are odd and remembers them.  She is one of the first people when hearing on the news about a girl disappearing to go down to the police station to report it.

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