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The Proposal – Betty White

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Mary Steenburgen, Betty White and Ryan Reynolds © Touchstone Pictures

Betty White began her career in 1950, hosting a local Los Angeles television show, and produced her first comedy series, Life with Elizabeth, for which she received an Emmy in 1952. But she’s probably best known for her roles as Sue Ann Nivens, the Happy Homemaker, on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and as the ditzy Rose in The Golden Girls. So it’s not surprising that she practically steals every one of her scenes in Sandra Bullock’s new comedy The Proposal. I spoke with Betty White at the press conference for the movie.


What can you tell us about your character, grandma ‘Grammie’?

Mary Steenburgen, Betty White and Ryan Reynolds © Touchstone Pictures
Mary Steenburgen, Betty White and Ryan Reynolds © Touchstone Pictures

She’s going to be celebrating her 90th birthday. She’s not a mean old lady, or a nasty old lady, she’s just a nice regular old lady who has certain visions of her own, but she’s a nice gal, I like her.

What was the most fun about playing her?

I fell in love with the movie when I read the script for the first time. You get a lot of scripts mailed to you and some of them are not what you might call wonderful. But this was fun from the very beginning. And I have to say, and it sounds like I’m blowing smoke and I’m not, working with these people was an experience, and I’ve had some wonderful ones in 60 years in the business. The chemistry between everybody, and the tone of everything was set by our director, Anne Fletcher, who’s as crazy as the rest of us. It made going to work every day like going to a party. I’m so lucky to work all the time.

What was it like working with Sandra Bullock?

Sandra Bullock and Betty White © Touchstone Pictures
Sandra Bullock and Betty White © Touchstone Pictures

I’ve never heard one negative thing about Sandra. Her comedy timing is so impeccable. Someone said, ‘Dying is easy, comedy is hard,’ because you can act up a storm and be very dramatic and everyone thinks you’re doing a wonderful job, but with comedy you get an instant review, you have to get that laugh or you’ve done it all wrong. And it’s scary, it’s very scary, so you kind of try to keep in the mood, and that’s what she does that makes her such a delight to work with. She is not only a wonderful actress and a wonderful comedienne, but you saw those heels she wears in the movie, they were nine inches, we had to run out to the end of the pier to get the boat, and the pier is built of slats across with spaces between them, and my heart would break every time we’d have to do that, because all she has to do is get a heel caught in the slats [to have a serious accident], it was really dangerous, and I’m being deadly serious, and she never missed a line, it was incredible. She bitched about it of course!

Have you met Sandra’s husband, Jesse James?

Yes, he’s got tattoos down to the end of this fingertips, and almost every other place, Finally somebody asked Sandra, ‘Do the tattoos ever bother you’ She said, ‘At night when I can’t sleep I just roll over and read him!’