Shirley MacLaine says Hollywood is ‘100% different’ today: ‘The glamour’s gone out of it, I’m afraid’

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Shirley MacLaine is back on the silver screen as she marks a milestone career anniversary this year.

The 89-year-old actress is starring opposite Peter Dinklage in the dark comedy “American Dreamer,” which premiered in theaters on Friday ahead of the 96th Academy Awards. Forty years ago, MacLaine won her first best actress Oscar for her performance in 1983’s “Terms of Endearment” after receiving four previous nominations.

MacLaine, who made her acting debut in 1955, recently told Extra’s Billy Bush that she still loves her profession as much as when she first started in the entertainment industry. However, MacLaine shared that Hollywood has significantly changed over the years with the advent of streaming platforms.

“The glamour’s gone out of it, I’m afraid. I think it’s entirely different,” MacLaine said. “It’s 100% different.”


Shirley MacLaine shared her views on how Hollywood has changed over the years. (Getty)

Bush noted that movie stars’ privacy was more protected by studios in the Golden Age of Hollywood and asked if MacLaine was bothered by the prevalence of “prying eyes” today.

“It’s all right,” she said, “I’m kind of open anyway and I don’t have much to hide.”

“I sometimes have a lot of explaining to do,” MacLaine quipped.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of MacLaine’s Oscars win. (Getty Images)

In “American Dreamer,” Dinklage, 54, plays Dr. Phil Loder, a low-paid and frustrated college professor whose dream of becoming a homeowner remains out of reach. He seizes the opportunity when elderly widow Astrid Fanelli (MacLaine) offers to sell her sprawling estate “for pennies,” only to discover that the “deal is too good to be true,” per a logline for the movie.

MacLaine said she was drawn to the role of Astrid since she “liked the way she was dealing with age.”

When asked how she planned to celebrate her milestone 90th birthday in April, MacLaine, who has continued working steadily over the years, explained that she would be busy with her next project.

“I’m going to be on a set,” MacLaine said. “I’ll be in Atlantic City.”

Shirley MacLaine will be 90 in April. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

The actress also weighed in on whether achieving the “American Dream” remains a reality for most people.

“I think that we should care more about what the American democracy means,” she responded. “We seem to have forgotten what it means, and I think it’s time we get back into the level of reality of understanding American democracy.”

Dinklage said he found the “notion” of the American Dream “fascinating.” “I think what the point of this movie, though, is: be careful what you obsess over too much because you meet somebody like Shirley and her character and it just completely upends what you’ve always thought and makes you see things a whole new way,” he said.

The “Game of Thrones” star added that he believes viewers will find “American Dreamer” to be “a fresh perspective on romance.”

Though she and Dinklage had never worked together before, MacLaine told Bush that the two “really hit it off.”

For his part, Dinklage said starring alongside the acting icon was “one of the greatest experiences of my career.”

MacLaine made her big screen debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 black comedy “The Trouble with Harry,” earning the Golden Globe Award for new star of the year – actress. She received her first Academy Award nomination for her role in Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 film “Some Came Running,” starring opposite Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Following her early career success, MacLaine skyrocketed to stardom after playing elevator operator Fran Kubelik in Billy Wilder’s 1960 romantic-comedy drama “The Apartment.” She earned her second Oscar nomination for her performance and was heavily favored to win the trophy, but lost to Elizabeth Taylor.

MacLaine was nominated for her third Oscar for her portrayal of the titular prostitute in Wilder’s 1963 film “Irma la Douce.” 

Though her acting career declined for a period in the early to mid 1970s, MacLaine and co-director Claudia Wells received an Academy Award nod for best documentary – feature for their 1976 film “The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir.” 

MacLaine resurged to prominence after starring in 1977’s “The Turning Point.” The actress, who had originally aspired for a career in ballet, earned her fourth Academy Award nomination for her performance as retired ballerina DeeDee Rodgers.

In 1984, MacLaine finally took home her first best actress Oscar after starring as widow Aurora Greenway in Jim Brooks’ “Terms of Endearment.” Her fellow nominees included her co-star Debra Winger, who played her daughter Emma in the family comedy-drama.

MacLaine won the best actress Oscar in 1984 for her performance in “Terms of Endearment.” (Images Press/Images/Getty Images)

Upon accepting her award, MacLaine joked about how long she had waited to receive the honor. “I have wondered for 26 years what this would feel like,” she said. “Thank you so much for terminating the suspense.”

During her acceptance speech, MacLaine noted that she had been looking forward to working with her co-star Jack Nicholson, quipping “to have him in bed was such middle-aged joy.”

MacLaine also remarked on her desire to work with the “turbulent brilliance of Debra Winger.” The pair, who reportedly stayed in character during the film’s entire production, had a notoriously stormy on-set relationship.


“She literally inhabited the character so thoroughly that I thought for four months I had two daughters,” MacLaine said of Winger.

“I’m not going to thank everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life – although, with the way my mind has been going lately probably everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life and in the other life I might have had had something to do with this,” MacLaine said.

She continued, “You know, if ‘Terms of Endearment’ had happened to me five years ago, I think I would have called it a thrilling, commercial, artistic accident. But I don’t believe that anymore. 

“I don’t believe there’s any such thing as accident. I think that we all manifest what we want and what we need. I don’t think there’s any difference really between what you feel you have to do in your heart and success. They’re inseparable.”

MacLaine’s Oscars speech is widely considered most memorable for her closing lines. “Films and life are like clay waiting for us to mold it,” she said.

“And when you trust your own insides, and that becomes achievement, it’s a kind of a principle that seems to me is at work with everyone,” MacLaine added. “God bless that principle. God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it.”

“I deserve this. Thank you.”

The actress joked about how she had waited 26 years to receive the honor of winning an Oscar. (ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Since receiving her Oscar, MacLaine has continued to star in major feature films and television projects. She most recently appeared in two episodes of Hulu’s hit mystery comedy-drama series “Only Murders in the Building.”

One of MacLaine’s most beloved performances was her turn in the classic 1989 romantic-comedy drama “Steel Magnolias.” Along with MacLaine, the film featured an A-list ensemble cast, including Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Sally Field and Daryl Hannah

The film will mark its 35th anniversary this November. During a 2019 interview with People for the 30th anniversary of “Steel Magnolias,” MacLaine shared that she still stays in touch with her co-stars.


“We check in with each other,” MacLaine said. “Not all the time, but we know what we’re doing.”

MacLaine told the outlet that Parton “impressed” the most out of all her acclaimed castmates while they were filming the movie in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

“She was the only one who didn’t complain about the heat,” she recalled with a laugh. “And she was the one wearing the 10-inch heels and the waist cincher of 18 inches. And she never complained about a thing. And a wig that was huge!”

“Steel Magnolias” starred MacLaine, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah. (Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)

The actress played town grouch Louisa “Ouiser” Boudreaux, the best friend of Dukakis’ character Clairee Belcher. MacLaine said the late “Moonstruck” star, who died at the age of 89 in 2021, was the actress that she was “closest” to on set.

“First off, all our scenes were almost all together,” MacLaine told People. “Julia was going through what she was going through in her young life. And Dolly, I think, was writing songs up in her bedroom in her house, or something.”


Roberts, who was 23 at the time, made her career breakthrough after starring as the young diabetic Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie. Roberts earned her first Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress and won the best supporting actress Golden Globe award.

Though Roberts was a relative newcomer to the industry, MacLaine remembered that she saw the young actress’ star potential from the moment they met.

“We were rehearsing on a sound stage, I can’t remember where, and she walks in,” MacLaine recalled. “And the way she walked into the room and sat down and said hello… I got up from the table and called my agent before we even started to rehearse.”

She continued, “I said, ‘There’s a woman here and she’s going to be a huge star. You should handle her,’ I told him. She was amazing. The energy that she had just walking into the sound stage.”