I had noticed Carol Kane’s performances in movies like Hester Street (1975) written and directed by Joan Micklin Silver, Annie Hall (1977) by Woody Allen, Valentino (1977) by Ken Russell with Rudolph Nureyev, and especially as the costar of the romantic comedy The World’s Greatest Lover (1977) written, directed by and starring Gene Wilder.
When Wilder passed in 2016, I wrote an obit for the Golden Globes website with quotes from his interviews with the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press, and for Cultural Weekly an article recalling our 1976 home photo session.
After Kane won the first of two consecutive Emmys as a supporting actress for the comedy series Taxi, in January 1983 I asked her for a home photo session and interview, which she graciously granted. Here’s some quotes.
About Gene Wilder: “It was one of those magical things: he just called me out of the blue, I didn’t know him, and he said: ‘I wrote this movie and you are the only person in the world who can play this part,’ which is like something you dream of. That film was the most Hollywood experience I’ve ever had, because we shot it entirely on the sound stages at Twentieth Century Fox, and all the costumes were made especially for me. I would have fittings in those great carpeted dressing rooms, where stars had been fitted since the thirties, and they would take hours and hours to light me beautifully.”
About Woody Allen: “I played the part of his first wife, we meet backstage at a political campaign and we don’t stay married very long. Woody is a genius, his movies are an art form, like Fellini’s; they are so special, so original, they are like an adventure.”
About Al Pacino: “In Dog Day Afternoon, I played a bank teller, a small part, but director Sidney Lumet rehearsed us a lot, which was great. Pacino is a great artist, one of our greatest American actors, and you always learn from these people, it sets your sights higher. When you see Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson or Marlon Brando, you see something larger than your previous vision. Those people remind you that there is no Iimit.”
About Simca, wife of Latka played by Andy Kaufman in Taxi: “She is very strong and opinionated, she is brand-new in this country, so everything is still a surprise to her. So I decided to do a female version of Latka, with the same rhythm of speaking and tone of voice. In the course of the development of the characters they have become quite different in their specific natures, he is much more gentle and passive, while she is very feisty and aggressive, she has a good sense of humor and she’s the force. It’s not unlike many married couples.”
Carol Kane, who never stopped working, costars with Jason Schwartzman in Between the Temples, written and directed by Nathan Silver, that premiered at Sundance on January 19.
Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli