Tribute to Shirley MacLaine: 'The Last Word' Director Mark Pellington

Shirley MacLaine will receive the 2017 KCET Cinema Series Lumière Award, honoring MacLaine’s illustrious career. KCET will also broadcast "Hollywood Idols Shirley MacLaine: Kicking Up Her Heels" that features acclaimed directors and actors discussing their experiences working with MacLaine on Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m.

mark pellington headshot
Mark Pellington 


As a filmmaker you are always drawn to working with stars. They are famous, iconic, legendary, with a body of work behind them -- a status bordering on a combination of reverence and awe. They are what Hollywood is all about.

As the director of "The Last Word, I was given an opportunity to work with a star like Shirley MacLaine. It can be daunting to work with a star, but you step in and rise to the challenge and they help you become a better director.

Shirley MacLaine is the consummate star, bringing all of her history, her craft and aesthetic prowess, and all of her legendary skills to the game; yet she was always respectful, able to collaborate, wanting to be directed, and able to find the best performance within herself and other cast members.

She taught me a great deal about focusing every moment of performance on a specific intention. I think I also freed her up from certain engineered ways of making films, and let her find the process and performance right for her. It often allowed her to be more "in the moment" -- free of rehearsal or stage marks. It is all a process, focused and committed, and Shirley brought her craft to the role in a beautiful moving, funny way -- a sharp, tender, vulnerable, and human performance.

It was an honor to work with her, and to direct her, and to capture and shape a great performance.

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