As Hollywood icons go, Anjelica Huston is one of its most enigmatic characters, a woman whose personal life has matched the cinematic drama of any of her best films. In her new book, A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York ($25, Scribner), out Nov. 19, the Academy Award winner delivers the first of a two-part memoir that details her childhood and adolescence in Europe and her later years in 1970s Manhattan.
One of the visiting authors at this month’s Miami Book Fair International, Huston took us on a literary journey down memory lane.
How did you know the time was right for a memoir?
For the last 10 years, people have been telling me, ‘You have great stories. Write them down.’ So, here we are.
In the prologue, you write about how much you identified with Morticia Addams as a child, which, ironically, became one of your most iconic film roles.
And you know what’s strange? I was really shocked that they came to me. I thought: How can they not ask Cher to play this?
I felt she was much more Morticia than I was. But I’m pleased they chose me.
You also mention how you would spend hours in front of the mirror practicing faces. Do you still do that?
[laughs] Oh, no! I avoid the mirror now as much as I courted it in the old days.
One of the saddest anecdotes in the book is about your mother’s death, which happened just hours after your reconciliation with her following a year of turmoil. Would you say that was a defining moment in your life?
Completely. That moment is what makes me believe in angels. My mother gave me that moment as a gift. Without it, I don’t think I would have ever recovered.
You’re also very candid about your relationship with photographer Bob Richardson, who was 23 years your senior. Those chapters are intense.
Ha! That relationship could have been a book unto itself. I was at the school of Bob Richardson.
Is that what you call it?
Well, I was college age, so that’s kind of what it was. And he was a tough teacher.
Have you visited Miami before?
Yes, a lot. I shot a movie there called The Perez Family.
How do you like our city?
I was really happy there. Being able to take a swim after lunch and that café cubano... I loved it.
Is it true you wrote this book longhand?
I did. With Paper Mate Sharpwriter #2 pencils. I’ve never been a typist.
So, the second part of the memoir comes out next fall. Should we expect less drama?
[laughs] Well, those are the Hollywood years, so I would say to expect just as much. Maybe a little more.
An Evening With Anjelica Huston, Nov. 22, 8pm, $40, Miami Dade College, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami, miamibookfair.com