Sometimes even when you win, you lose. For Dianne Wiest, that might just be the case. The Academy Award-winning actor says that winning an Oscar wasn’t the career boon she thought it would be. Despite flashing impressive range in roles that netted three Best Supporting Actress nominations and two wins, Wiest says she’s been boxed in by playing the same character in nearly every movie she’s offered.
When you think about Wiest, you might think of Vi, the mother of the rebellious Ariel in “Footloose.” Or maybe you think of the struggling divorced mom Helen in “Parenthood.” Or perhaps Peg, the mother-like figure for Edward in “Edward Scissorhands.” Maybe Joan, the matriarch of the Short family in the CBS sitcom “Life in Pieces?” And of course, there’s Lucy, mother of the vampire-fighting Emerson brothers in “The Lost Boys.”
And that’s Wiest’s point. Despite her acting chops, authenticated by the two Oscars sitting on her shelf (or wherever Dianne Wiest chooses to show off her hardware), she’s been stuck playing the same role over and over.
She’s Typecast As A Nice Mom
When an actor is typecast, it means that Hollywood producers only see them as one specific character type. While that might mean a safety net for struggling actors, it’s potentially a death knell for actors with the talent and desire to play a wide range of roles. For example, there was a time when Tom Hanks was typecast as strictly a comedy actor before he broke free in the 1993 drama “Philadelphia.”
Unfortunately, Wiest never had her “Philadelphia” moment to escape the dreaded Hollywood typecasting. The big question is, why? Wiest won Oscars for Best Supporting Actress in two Woody Allen films, “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Bullets Over Broadway.” Both roles were rather salacious and neither involved being a mom.
Despite this, Wiest claims that there’s typically one type of role she’s been offered in Hollywood since her Oscar wins. The actress told The New York Times she’s been typecast as “a nice mom and that’s it. That’s all that ever came [after the Oscars], except in theatre.” Wiest also sent the gossip columns into a tizzy with the quip, “I have to move out of my apartment soon.” She later clarified that her unpredictable acting career and (ironically) covering large tuition bills as a single mother made her New York rent too expensive.
Dianne Wiest: Hollywood’s Mom
You hate to see Wiest limited by Hollywood typecasting, but let’s face it, she does it so well. Since the early 1980s, Wiest has played mom to some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Michael J. Fox (“Bright Lights, Big City”), Corey Haim and Jason Patric (“The Lost Boys”), Winona Ryder and (sort of) Johnny Depp (“Edward Scissorhands”), Lori Singer (“Footloose”), and Joaquin Phoenix (“Parenthood”) are all part of her show biz brood.
And though we’re well beyond the 1980s when Wiest played some of her most iconic “mom” roles, Hollywood refuses to release its grip on her as a mother. She’s now playing parent to another generation of actors, including Steve Carell (“Dan in Real Life”), Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (“Sisters”), and Jeremy Renner (“Mayor of Kingstown”).
But it’s not all bad. Let’s face it, Wiest is a Hollywood treasure and serves as an inspiration for moms everywhere. Her performances have inspired mom blog posts like “How to Handle Motherhood Like Boss mom Dianne Wiest” and social media posts celebrating her as a mother.
— B.❤sCinema (@B_lovescinema) April 4, 2018
Wiest says she turns to the theatre to feed her artistic needs that Hollywood’s mom roles can’t. In 2019 she finished a three-year run as Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s iconic play “Happy Days.” She told the L.A. Times, “I just want to do Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’ over and over again. I don’t want to do anything else, because nothing else comes near it.” Prior to that, she starred in the thought-provoking “Rasheeda Speaking” alongside Tonya Pinkins.
Meanwhile, we’ll continue to relish Wiest as Hollywood’s mom, even though it’s a moniker she’d like to permanently ground, or at least send to bed without dinner.
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