Carol Kane gets serious about 'Clutter'

Carol Kane in "Scrooged" (1988) with Bill Murray.

Carol Kane in "Scrooged" (1988) with Bill Murray. (Credit: USA Network)

In the indie film "Clutter," Carol Kane plays Linda Bradford, an aging hoarder with three grown but dysfunctional children. Written by Paul Marcarelli, who rose to fame as Verizon's "Can you hear me now?" pitchman, and filmed in the Five Towns area with a cast that includes Natasha Lyonne and Dan Hedaya, "Clutter" marks a dramatic turn for Kane, 61, who won two Emmys for her role as the squeaky-voiced Simka on the sitcom "Taxi." In advance of her return to Long Island to host a screening of "Clutter" with Marcarelli, Kane spoke by phone from her home in Manhattan.


How did you get involved in this movie?

It was one of those lovely things -- they just sent me the script. I didn't know anyone involved. But when I read it, I thought it was exquisite.


You weren't aware that Paul Marcarelli was the Verizon guy?

Not only was I not aware, but I'm still not really aware! I just think of him as the artist who wrote this thing. I didn't realize he was famous for that.


You've done a wide range of projects . . .

Are you implying that I'm wide?


No, I mean the roles you've played! What makes you say yes or no to a part?

The writing. If they give you good words to say, and you don't get in the way of them, you'll be OK. And if they don't, there's no way it's going to get better.


People think of you as a comedic actress, but you never set out to be one.

That's not at all how I began. Of course, I'm thrilled to be accepted as somebody who's funny. But on the other hand, it's frustrating to be thought of as any one thing. I just don't like any category like that.


Back in 1986, you said that in 10 years, "I hope to be alive and doing exactly what I'm doing now." Mission accomplished?

I am alive, which is always a plus, and I am working. Of course, I want to be working more. Which is not to say that I'm not extremely grateful. I know that I'm in the minority to be able to keep working all these years. But I want more!


What haven't you crossed off your list?

Mary Tyrone . Tennessee Williams. Those are the great roles. Just to swing back to what you said before, about being a comedian: My success in that area separated me a bit from being thought of in those roles. I want to be Geraldine Page, I want to be one of the greats. Like we all do, right?


WHAT "Clutter" screening followed by Q&A with star Carol Kane and screenwriter Paul Marcarelli

WHEN | WHERE 7:30 Monday night, Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington

INFO $23, 631-423-7610, cinemaartscentre.org


CAROL KANE'S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Carol Kane's career has been longer and more diverse than you might think. Here are some movie, TV and Broadway highlights:

Carnal Knowledge (1971) In her first screen credit, Kane played the girlfriend of Sandy (Art Garfunkel) in Mike Nichols' controversial drama.

Hester Street (1975) As a Jewish immigrant in the 1890s, Kane earned an Academy Award nod for best actress.

Annie Hall (1977) Kane is Allison, who's working backstage at a political rally where Alvy (Woody Allen) is performing. She's writing her thesis on political commitment in 20th century literature. Alvy falls for her instantly.

The World's Greatest Lover (1977) In this bawdy spoof, writer-director Gene Wilder gave Kane her first comedic role.

When a Stranger Calls (1979) "We've traced the call -- it's coming from inside the house!" Believe it or not, Kane was the baby-sitter in this minor horror classic.

Taxi (1980-83) She held her own against Andy Kaufman -- they played Simka and Latka, an immigrant couple who speak an unknown tongue -- and won two Emmys.

Scrooged (1988) As the chirpy but physically abusive Ghost of Christmas Present, Kane tortured Bill Murray throughout this Dickensian comedy.

Wicked (2005) Off and on, Kane has been the evil headmistress Madame Morrible in various versions of the smash musical. She last played the part on Broadway in February.

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