Anjelica Huston portrays Eileen Rand on NBC's "Smash."

Anjelica Huston portrays Eileen Rand on NBC's "Smash." Credit: NBC

Anjelica Huston, Oscar winner for "Prizzi's Honor" (1985), is not only known for her talent, but also for the powerful men in her life.

Among them was her father, Oscar-winning director John Huston, and Jack Nicholson, the Oscar-winning actor with whom she had a 17-year relationship.

She was born in California in 1951, and soon afterward, her father moved the family to Ireland, where they lived in a country estate in Galway until her parents separated. Her mother moved them to London but was killed in a car accident when Huston was 17. In 1992, she married sculptor Robert Graham Jr. He died in 2008. The actress, 60, is working on her memoirs. You can see her at 10 p.m. Mondays on NBC's "Smash," in which she plays a Broadway producer going through a contentious divorce and trying to get financing for "Marilyn the Musical." Here, she speaks with Patricia Sheridan of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

You don't have to say if you will or will not, but do you want to sing on "Smash"?

Well, um, wow. Yeah, I guess I want to sing. You know, I think it's just a matter of whether or not I think people want to hear me sing.

Did your lineage ever feel like a burden?

When I was in my teens and I wanted it to all be about me, I think it got in my way a little bit. I wanted a sort of autonomy on my life, and it seemed to me that, you know, I was being expected to live up to something that I didn't necessarily feel should be part of my life.

You felt like you had no choice but to be in the family business.

Yes, I did feel that way. I was also kind of reluctant to accept what I thought were handouts, you know, charity because I was a Huston, when it came to parts and stuff like that. I wanted to earn my own way. I wanted to do it my way.

I understand you are writing your memoir. Looking back, does it feel like you've had multiple lifetimes?

At least nine. Very much so.

You could have been defined by all these powerful men in your life, especially your dad and Jack Nicholson.

Well, I am defined by them, but I'm grateful to be defined by them. The only reason Jack and my father look big is they were more public than, for instance, my husband. But all of them have defined me, and I hope I've left my imprint on them.

In other interviews, you have said your father could be very critical, and on top of that, your mother died when you were just 17. Those circumstances could paralyze someone with insecurity. Was that an issue for you?

Well, I was very insecure, but also very headstrong, which is a bit of a troublesome dichotomy. [Laughs.] I'm shy and gregarious. It sort of depends on which -- I won't even say day you find me on -- because it's a bit more mercurial than that, even. But I think it is one of the reasons why I think acting is a good profession for me, because I've always had laughter under the tears and tears under the laughter. I have a facility for that, and it's kind of the way I am, you know, sort of the way my personality seems to unfold. My character seems to be planted in two worlds at the same time -- two emotional worlds at the same time, at least. [Laughs.]

You seem to always have found a way to move forward. Do you have any regrets, personally or professionally?

Well, tons of regrets, but you have to realize that at the times where you made those decisions -- and sometimes they were bad decisions -- but it was for a reason. Whatever that reaction was, sometimes many years forward you think: "What on Earth was on my mind when I did that?" I think the point is to forgive yourself and go on. Some people need a church to forgive themselves or a God to forgive themselves, but I think somewhere it is in all of us to allow ourselves that forgiveness and that possibility to absolve ourselves from our sins, our misdemeanors, our crimes. Hopefully, we learn from them and do better.

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