Teresa Wright returns to movies in "The Rainmaker"
by Bob Thomas
The Associated Press December 26, 1997
Among the notables in the cast of Francis Ford Coppola's "John
Grisham's The Rainmaker" is one who can warm the hearts of longtime
moviegoers: Teresa Wright.
During the 1940s she provided the essence of lovely young womanhood,
whether as Gary Cooper's devoted
wife in "The Pride of the
Yankees" or Joseph Cotten's
intended victim in Alfred
Hitchcock's "Shadow of
She also played Marlon Brando's
sweetheart in his first film, "The Men."
Miss Wright captured Hollywood from the start, winning an Academy
Award nomination as supporting actress in 1941 in her first movie, "The
Little Foxes." The following year she scored a double: She was
nominated for best actress in "The
Pride of the Yankees" and as supporting actress in "Mrs.
Miniver." The latter won her the Oscar.
At 69 [sic], the flawless beauty of her years as a leading lady still
lingers in her face. In "The Rainmaker," she appears as Miss
Birdie, an eccentric, warmhearted oldster who befriends the young lawyer
portrayed by Matt Damon.
Miss Wright happened to be in Los Angeles when she received Coppola's
script for the film. She read it on a flight back to her New York home
and decided she wanted to do it.
"At first I thought if Miss Birdie went all the way through
it might be too much for me," she said by telephone from her Manhattan
apartment. "Then I found out we were going to rehearse, which was
wonderful. We had a week's rehearsal at Francis' place in Napa (Valley
in California). That was a great experience. Then we had another week in
The actress has been directed by such legends as Hitchcock
and William Wyler. This was
her first experience with Coppola. "Years ago I had met him when I
read a part for 'Peggy Sue Got Married,'" she recalled. "That
part wasn't something I really wanted to do.
and Wyler were marvelous
directors, and I enjoyed working with them. But Francis was quite unique.
I heard Mickey Rourke saying on television, 'There was a lot of love going
around on that set.' and there was.
"Francis enjoys actors, and he enjoys members of the crew and
the story. He worked on the story all the way through. He worked late at
night on he script. I have no idea when he slept. There must have been
two hours somewhere. Nobody worked harder than he did."
She also had kind words for Damon, predicting he would be around
for a long time.
New York-born Teresa Wright came to Hollywood in 1940 with excellent
credentials. She had schooled at the Wharf Theater in Provincetown, Mass.,
understudied Martha Scott in "Our Town" and was appearing as
an ingenue in "Life With Father" when Samuel
Goldwyn signed her to a contract. Her beauty and dramatic intensity
made her an ideal leading lady with Cooper,
Andrews, Robert Mitchum,
David Niven and other stars.
After 1950, her career took a back seat to marriage, first to novelist-screenwriter
Niven Busch ("Duel in the Sun"), then to playwright Robert Anderson
("Tea and Sympathy"), whom she married twice. She has a son and
daughter and two grandchildren. "The Rainmaker" is Miss Wright's
first movie since "The Good Mother" with Diane Keaton and Liam
Neeson in 1988. But she has never retired, often appearing in TV movies
and in the theater. Recently someone asked her: "Now that you're doing
character parts, do you expect things to be different?"
Her reply: "I've been doing character parts since 1953. I just
don't have to wear a gray wig anymore."
© 1997 The Associated Press