Our big interview with Cagney & Lacey star Sharon Gless. Sharon talks Casualty...
It’s not every day a Hollywood superstar drops into Holby and performs life-saving brain surgery – but this Saturday is that day. Cagney & Lacey star Sharon Gless makes her much-anticipated guest appearance in Casualty this week, and it’s one to remember!
We talked to Sharon about her starring role as successful surgeon Zsa Zsa Harper-Jenkinson and Zsa Zsa's attachment to Casualty's emotionally repressed doctor Dylan Keogh…
Warm, funny and with an infectious laugh, Sharon reveals she would be up for more Casualty, if anyone is asking!
How did you get involved in Casualty?
"My agent called me and explained producer Daf Llwelyn requested me on this really huge TV series called Casualty. I love working in the UK and Zsa Zsa is the best character so I said I’d love to. Apparently it’s the first time Casualty have flown an American over to play a role."
How would you describe Zsa Zsa?
"In the script she’s described at ‘blousy’. She doesn’t dress in a blousy fashion but she is big in spirit. Zsa Zsa is very funny, often inappropriately, which is my favourite thing!"
What brings her to the UK? "Zsa Zsa taught Dylan when he was a young surgeon. You discover they didn’t stay in touch. She wanted to but Dylan’s very emotionally withdrawn. Zsa Zsa’s speciality is brain surgery. She’s in America doing wonders when Dylan calls and reveals he has a patient he’s very close to in a dire situation. I think because Zsa Zsa loved Dylan she just shows up!"
Will you watch the episode?
"I don’t usually watch myself but we’ll see. When I was doing Cagney & Lacey they used to say to me – ‘Sharon, you’ve a responsibility to the show to watch it.’ But my mind goes to – ‘Do I look fat?’ or ‘That was a terrible performance’. I can’t be objective.
Casualty’s Amanda Mealing bowed when she met you. Have you noticed people getting star struck with you?
"Yeah, and I don’t know why. The first time I went to London, I had people run after me. There was such enthusiasm and love for the characters. Cagney and Lacey was bigger in the UK than it was in the US. If I’m ever thrown out of my own country I hope you’ll take me!"
Have you any famous fans?
"This is really awesome – I met Jennifer Saunders at a dinner thing in Pasadena, California, and I’m a huge fan. She runs around, gets on the floor and pretends to worship me. Jennifer Saunders! Helen Mirren did it in a New York theatre! I went to introduce myself and when she saw me she got to the ground and started worshiping me. When you consider the two stars doing that, you think, ‘I don’t want this to ever stop but get up, I’m not worthy!’ You could really get a big head here!"
Well, Cagney & Lacey is a big deal – it broke glass ceilings…
"Thank you. In those days we had the material. No one else was writing that kind of material. Tyne and I were good together and worked hard but we both agree we’re not so fabulous – it’s just that no one else was doing it."
Have you ever been star struck by anyone?
"Yes, many times! I started in American television a long time ago and worked with James Garner who did The Rockford Files, which was huge when I was young. I also worked with Robert Wagner, who was another huge movie star who came to TV. In London I worked with Bill Patterson and Tom Conti – that’s enough to be star struck!"
Would you come back and work on Casualty again?
"Absolutely I would. If they invited me, I’d love to, Zsa Zsa was fun to play and it’s my first medical show. I’m available for good parts – if people think I’m too busy it’s not the case. I don’t want to put my feet up and relax. I want to keep going because I love to act with good material."
Who’s on your UK work wish list?
"I’d love to work with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Also the boy who did the Danish Girl. Eddie Redmayne. Oh my god I’d love to play his grandmother!"
Sharon Gless appears in BBC1’s Casualty on Saturday 18 November at 9.10pm.
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With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.
As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast.
After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.