Elizabeth Perkins Interview

Elizabeth Perkins (center) goes to the dog park in her new film.

From playing Tom Hanks' love interest in Big to Wilma Flinstone in The Flintstones, Elizabeth Perkins has been around the world of Hollywood. She's playing the very protective sister of Diane Lane in her new movie Must Love Dogs.

The film brings together some of Elizabeth's best friends in the industry from Diane, Dermot Mulroney, Stockard Channing, and Christopher Plummer.

In the film, she decides to put Diane's profile on an internet dating site to help her find a man. But would Elizabeth do that in real life? Read our interview to find out:

Do you own a dog?

Elizabeth Perkins: Yes, I own two dogs – Buster and Lulu, they're both rescue pups. Buster is a Boston terrier Chihuahua and Lulu is a miniature Rhodesian Ridgeback cause she has a ridge, she howls, yet she only weighs seven pounds. Yes, I have two cats, four fish, and we used to have a mouse named Fluffball, but he just died a couple weeks ago. My daughter named her when she was 10. We gave him a proper burial in the backyard, and everyone said something nice about him.

Do you have any sisters?

Elizabeth Perkins: I have two older sisters; yes, I'm the youngest, but I play the oldest in this (Must Love Dogs) which was revenge for me!

Did you ever try to fix them up or did they ever try to fix you up?

Elizabeth Perkins: Um, my middle sister tried to fix me up a few times. My sisters are very academically inclined so whenever they would fix me up, it would always be from someone in their world, people they would find attractive and that only lasted a few times. They wore suits and when they came to the door in suits, it was over.

How do you think romantic comedies stay fresh?

Elizabeth Perkins: I think what's great about what Gary [David Goldberg] does is pretty much everyone in this movie is someone that everyone would know. He very much goes for the every man and creating characters that are completely recognizable and accessible, almost everyone. I think that makes it that much more real; I don't think this is one of those forced comedies where the music is coming out of no where and it's a little more subtle than that. I had worked with Gary on a short-lived series called Battery Park that really came and went on ABC a few years ago and I adore him; Gary and I have a short hand that I can look over at him and we laugh and I always call him ‘boss' and he likes that. He's just a simple man to work with; you can feel the relationship with the director. If a scene is playing too long, he's not going to come on set and say ‘I needed it at 3:20 and now it's coming in at 3:50.' He's not that kind of director, it's all about the relationship between the people.

How was the relationship between you and your movie sisters?

Elizabeth Perkins: No, not at all. Actually, I was hired on a Friday and I started that Monday. Gary called me and asked me to do it; he didn't realize that Diane and I have been the dearest of friends for about 15 years. So the relationship came naturally; it's almost a little too close to home, but also the fact that I come from a home of two sisters. It was just like gliding into first base, very simple to fall into Carol.

So how difficult was it to come in on such short notice?

Elizabeth Perkins: Well, if it weren't for all these great people it might have been harder and if it hadn't been Gary, it may have been difficult. But, I've known Dermot for 25 years, I've known Stockard for 15, Diane for 15, I've known everyone for a very long time and it felt like I was coming home to a family instead of walking in and not knowing anyone.

Did you have time for rehearsal?

Elizabeth Perkins: No, he didn't like to rehearse. I think he felt, in terms of the ability to shoot because he was doing one camera, and he had a really nice schedule because it was Warner Brothers, that he could give time for the actors to find it. Because when you're dealing with a large ensemble cast, there's a lot of character choices coming and going. He really allowed us to find ourselves on film.

How did you perceive your character?

Elizabeth Perkins: Bossy! She's just the classic older sister, get your nose out of my life, but secretly I love it cause it shows that you love me. And I think that Carol is a bit jealous because she's just gone out in the dating world which is fun. I think secretly she'd like to put herself on the internet and see who'd respond. I don't think she'd act on it, but it'd be an interesting thing to do.

Why do you and Diane and you get along so well?

Elizabeth Perkins: Well, we both went through a period of our lives where we were both single mothers together; she was divorced from Christopher Lambert and I was divorced from my daughter's father and it was just the two of us with our two daughters who are a year apart, a little over a year apart, both of us trying to figure out the dating scene; neither of us really wanting to date. And it became a real friendship, and then we both met different men in our lives, but the relationship has remained.

Have your daughters remained good friends as well?

Elizabeth Perkins: Yeah, but they're not really friends, they're sisters, cause they are both only children and both girls so they'd look at each other as sisters. We'd spend the night over at their house and sleep in the tent and we became very close because we were both raising daughters alone in LA.

Would you ever consider going on the internet and looking for a relationship?

Elizabeth Perkins: Well, I think if I wasn't an actress, I might; you know, if I put my picture out there - isn't that? (laughter) like ‘I want to be with her, she's got money!' Yeah, if I wasn't in the industry, yeah, I'd definitely consider it. My dear friend from high school, she'd go from relationship to relationship; one would last a year, one would last eight months, one would last two years, but never really found her soul mate, finally went to internet dating and found a guy and they've been together for six years. She's still never going to get married, but it's been her longest and most fruitful relationship. But based on her experience I'd definitely do it, particularly if you're middle aged cause where're you going to go to meet someone? You're not going to go to a bar, you're not going to go to a night club; and, of course, there are the museums, but you sort of get a little uncomfortable with that because that doesn't lead to any long term relationship – it's sort of a mutual attraction only. As you get older, it's probably a very viable way to meet people.

You've said that you've known all these people for a long time, what's that like knowing that you're going to work on a movie all together?

Elizabeth Perkins: It's just going to be a big party, that's the biggest thing and you're shooting on the studio lot, people park your car for you and they bring you breakfast and it's just a luxury and it doesn't happen very often that you get to work with some really good friends of yours and there's a common language between everyone, you don't have to explain what you're doing, you can just run with it. It makes it just so much easier and more relaxed.

How was working with Christopher Plummer as your dad?

Elizabeth Perkins: I thought that he was going to be the king, I thought that he would be so refined. But I didn't realize that he had such a wicked sense of humor, kind of a dastardly sense of humor, and he's extremely sexy and that took me a little by surprise. He'd very quietly whisper in your ear, and he's always touching, but not in a lecherous type of way. He's extremely warm and I guess I always saw him as this staunch man, you know from The Sound of Music straight through everything. It wasn't that at all, he was extremely down to earth. We had a really good cast, we were really lucky.

Do you ever take your dogs for a walk in the park?

Elizabeth Perkins: Well, the dog park is a specific thing as appose to when you're walking because it's safer; you know, if someone walks up to you and starts talking to you, you don't grab your pocket book and go for the cell phone. I was thinking it's probably one of the best pick up places out there, especially the small dog area, because it seems like all the good looking people have smaller dogs these days (laughter). Especially for the women, because they always come in with their little Chihuahuas and the guys come in with their Golden Retrievers and stand at the gate (laughter). I'm not really paying attention because I've got my two, but I have noticed it before. But it makes sense, there's this cute little thing in the middle of you, you can talk about how cute it is.

How did you meet Diane?

Elizabeth Perkins: We did a film together called Indian Summer many years ago; I think my daughter was less than a year old. It was about a group of people who go back to camp and revisit the camp they went to. That was another great cast, it had Bill Paxton and Kevin Pollak.

How do you feel about doing family movies opposed to other genres?

Elizabeth Perkins: My kids are old enough now that they can watch that, but I like to do the family movies. I'm doing a series on Showtime called Weeds, which is about marijuana, so I'm going to be the ‘marijuana mom' at school now. I keep saying it's a metaphor, it's not really about the marijuana. But as they grow up, I can branch out a little more, but I tend to be drawn to wholesome films.

Do your kids want to get in the business or do you want them to get into the business?

Elizabeth Perkins: My oldest step-son wants to direct or produce; he makes a lot of short films. As far as being an actor, I've already told them they have to wait until they're 18; I won't take them to auditions. My daughter's kind of interested in it, but it's not really running in their blood, but that might change. Right now, she's just rolling her eyes at everything I do; I'm just an embarrassment. I was trying on this dress last night and she came in and said ‘Why don't you wear that when you pick me up from school?' (lots of laughter). ‘Oh, I'm sorry, I'll wear my best dress.' I'm just an embarrassment on every level.

Must Love Dogs is the only romantic comedy for the summer, so for a good date night, check it out when it hits theaters July 29th; it's rated 'PG-13.'