Apr 29, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Whether you’re a member of her family or a member of her Film Talk audience, an evening with Siobhan Fallon-Hogan can be intense, uproarious and sometimes unsettling. Raised in Cazenovia before pursuing a successful career as one of Hollywood’s most versatile comic character actresses — the woman has an absolutely manic gift of gab.
More than 180 film fans and students turned out April 16 at Le Moyne College’s Coyne Performing Arts Center to hear what the fast-talking Fallon had to say about her three decades in show business. They heard plenty. Her tongue never rests. It’s like a jabbering little jackhammer.
A graduate of Le Moyne, Fallon-Hogan was introduced to her audience there by Julie Grossman, a professor of English, communications and film studies. “She’s part Lucille Ball, part Maureen O’Hara and all herself,” Grossman said.
For her part, Siobhan — who will turn 52 on May 13 — reminded aspiring actors to “believe in yourself, or pretend that you do.”
Recalling her days as a Le Moyne undergrad, Siobhan credited English professor Neil Novelli for grounding her in Shakespeare and also thanked the late Marshall Nye for casting her in musicals in Manlius.
Though her mom and dad encouraged her to think positively, Siobhan admits she suffered self-doubt before finally deciding to tackle acting. She’d tried typing. “That hurt my neck,” she said. She tried waitressing. “But I was too nervous and kept dropping things.” She tried teaching. “But I was too stupid,” she said.
Her mother bristled at the thought.
“You’re not stupid,” her mom insisted. “You’re street-smart!”
With that sentiment ringing in her ear, Siobhan set her sights on New York’s Great White Way but found that becoming a professional thespian could be a bittersweet experience. “I’ll never forget the day I got my Actors’ Equity Card,” she said. “That day my life went from black-and-white to Technicolor. I made it!”
She’d been cast in a play called “The Life of Davy Crockett.” She played the role of a bear.
In 1990, the redheaded funny girl made her television debut on “The Golden Girls” before joining the ensemble at “Saturday Night Live.” She remained with NBC-TV’s high-profile comedy show for 20 episodes, but found the environment highly competitive.
She appeared in “Seinfeld” as Elaine’s trashy roommate, Tina, and was then cast in the 1994 film “The Paper” starring Glenn Close. The older actress showed Siobhan how much film work differed from TV and stage.
“Film is acting under a microscope,” she said. “The camera picks up everything.”
That same year director Bob Zemeckis hired Siobhan to portray a chain-smoking school bus driver in “Forrest Gump.” It was a small role that opened big doors. Now, some 20 years later, she’s hailed as one of Hollywood’s best character actresses.
Siobhan played the wife of an alien in “Men in Black,” an eccentric secretary in “The Bounty Hunter,” a sympathetic corrections officer in “Dancer in the Dark” and a baby-talking birthing instructor in “Baby Mama.” She said she especially enjoyed portraying the podunk Minnesotan Blanche Gunderson in “New in Town” and relished the chance to travel to Australia to make “Charlotte’s Web.”
“The great thing about being an actor is that you can hide behind your character,” she said. “But tonight I’m not a character. I’m me.”
Russ Tarby is an Eagle Newspapers contributor. He can be reached through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.