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Burstyn poses for a portrait in the Paul Newman Library of the Actors Studio in New York on Sept. 28, 2019. Burstyn stars as a woman forced into a retirement home in the film “Queen Bees.” (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Burstyn’s own retirement plans aren’t just unmade. They’re unfathomable. When she turned 80, she decided to move from Rockland County, up the Hudson, into the city. “Time for a little action,” she explained in a recent interview by phone.
She has since lived in an apartment overlooking Central Park, which she strolls daily. “It’s my garden,” she says. During the pandemic, Burstyn has mostly laid low, spending time with friends in the Catskills and at a condo on the Connecticut waterfront.
“Otherwise, I’ve been in the city. I’ve been in my apartment,” says Burstyn. “I am absolutely a cooped-up person ready to hit the road again.”
Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.
AP: What do you attribute your longevity to?
BURSTYN: I must have some good genes. I was sort of wild in my 20s and 30s. When I got into my 40s, I started dropping bad habits slowly. First hard liquor went, then wine went, exercise began, changing my diet and giving up meat. Marijuana was also part of the mix. I just gave it up all up. I think it really paid off.
AP: Has acting evolved for you over time?
BURSTYN: I’m not sure I know how to answer that. It must have. You know, I’m very well trained. I had the great, great fortune of studying with one of the master teachers of all time — Lee Strasberg I’m talking about — and he influenced me so much. I found as I went on in my career that the things I had to work hard for early on became easier and easier to access. I became more relaxed in my efforts. But I never lost interest in it.