From Moonstruck to In The Land of Women, Olympia Dukakis has enraptured the spirit of the American woman, and today will be honored at the Sarasota Film Festival Tribute Luncheon. Fans in Sarasota will be able to hear her discuss her career at an In Conversation event at the Sarasota Yacht Club today, but she sat down with SRQ to discuss some highlights.
Every woman I know relishes opportunities to gather and watch Steel Magnolias, then cry together. Why does this seem to have touched such a large group of women? I have thought about it to be honest. It really startled me. I think it’s because it’s a film about friendship. Women know they can have it, and they yearn for profound friendships with each other. That movie is about that. They are there for each other.
Moonstruck was a comedy, which normally don’t do particularly well with the Academy, but you you an Oscar, as did Cher. You also earned a Golden Globe. Were you surprised by the awards reception? Norman Jewison (the director) knew it. He said you are going to get an Academy Award. I thought he was trying to be nice to me. This that and the other thing. Then there it happened. it was totally amazing. (Writer) John Patrick Shanley got something (an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). It meant I could pay my bills. My daughter was going to college on credit cards. It changed out lives. it made us. I had done movies—John and Mary, stuff like that—but I hadn’t been in a movie that was a solid hit.
Last year, Stavroula Toska was at the Sarasota Film Festival with the documentary Beneath the Olive Tree about the Greek civil war, a film she directed and you narrated. She adores you, by the way. Even though I have family from Greece, it touched on a lot of facts I knew nothing about. Why did you feel that story needed to do told on film? I gave her the idea. I have all the books. The Greeks didn’t even know about it. That aspect of the civil war was not dealt with. I think it’s because these women who were writers, while they were being held captive, they wrote and buried the writing under the olive tree, and then years later went back and published the. At that time in Greece, they became really known. Not only those women, but there were many women who during the civil war learned to read and write. Because they were communists, they wanted to educate everybody. I’m not pushing for the communists, believe me, because they did terrible things, but so did the nationalists. Unfortunately at the time, England and then America were responsible for a lot of stuff that happened there.
What comes next in your career? They are going to do a final Tales of the City. That’s exciting. the last three books. It will great to know that’s done. It’s the last three books. in which Anna Madrigal floats up to heaven.