PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Actress Beverly D’Angelo reflected on the impact of the “Vacation” films on her career with Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, saying she never imagined it having such a long-lasting legacy.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s amazing. I never thought that that was going to happen. I chose that movie because my husband said look at this Cousin Eddie, it’s very funny. I was thinking, but I’m 29, I’m playing the mother of teenagers, their dog is in it. We kill one…So I said, yeah. It was a lark. We shot everything on location. It was a satire, by the way. It was a satire. Then, I’m living in Italy at the time, and it came out, I was in Italy then, and a friend of mine called me and said, you’re in the number one movie this weekend! The phenomenon that happened was, instead of people watching it and seeing it as an extended ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit, they identified with it. That had everything to do with John Hughes.”
D’Angelo revealed that she fashioned her character from the films off of someone very close to her.
“I based that character on my Mother. I’ve had a wild life, certainly nothing in common, in reality with an Ellen Griswold kind of life, but it was so much based on my mother that in ‘Vegas Vacation’ when Clarke and I get remarried, he says will you Ellen Priscilla Ruth Smith take me to be your husband? That was my mother’s maiden name, Priscilla Ruth Smith. She passed away, but what’s wonderful, this was a woman who lived by, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all, and she lived by that. She was kind and devoted to her family. That was really my northern star for that character. Honestly, when I was 29, I didn’t think that much of her approach to life, but I knew it was that character. What’s wonderful is that by, kind of, inhabiting her to portray Ellen, it’s brought a world to me of kindness and generosity too.”
She stated she is grateful that this is the role she is most associated with.
“I have a very friendly fame and it has to do with having done ‘Vacation.’ It has a lot to do with the fact that I never approached an acting career with, well if I do this movie, then I’ll do that movie, then I’ll be a star, and then I’ll be able to do that. I never did that. I’ve never done that. So, the people, my fans, ultimately connect with that person in me that’s just sought a creative life as opposed to a life of stardom. It’s a friendly and constant fan base. It’s nice.”
D’Angelo’s latest film, ‘Wakefield,’ is in theaters now.