Olympia Dukakis

Oscar-winning actor, out almost 80 bucks

Olympia Dukakis

Olympia Dukakis Photograph: Deborah Feingold

Your husband, brother and daughter are all actors—do you have a dynasty?
The Dukakis dynasty! I think maybe it's a little peculiar that there are so many actors in the family. Everyone thinks in terms of the way people are nurtured, but I think there's also a genetic makeup. [My family] does like to tell stories. They actually act out the story. It's a very compelling thing to want to do—people want to put down money, sit in a dark building and watch a human being imitate other human beings.

Your Oscar was once stolen from your house. Do you keep him chained to the mantel now?
No, no, I keep him on a shelf. He's not going anywhere. I asked them for another one, and they said I could have one for $78. At that time it was worth $78. That's really something to know—don't get too nuts about these things!... Someone called our house and tried to extort us. We tried to bring the police in, but then he smelled something fishy.

If you could work with any actor, who would it be?
Who's that Welshman—he played a butler and a serial killer? I'm suffering from age-itis.

Was it Anthony Hopkins?
It was. Yes.

Do you do a lot of accents?
[In accent] Dahling, I'm doing a Viennese accent. You work with the sound, the rhythms. And you work hard. I have a vonderful instructor. I've done a Russian accent with him, a Yiddish accent with him, Macedonian.

You're making Meryl Streep look bad. You've lived in New York since 1957, how has the city changed?
The tremendous influx of different kinds of people. It's amazing, the accents on the street.

More than even you have?
Yes!—Interviewed by Allison Williams

Dukakis stars in the play The Singing Forest, which starts previews at the Public on Fri 10.

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