One more time. Betty White‘s final interview will air in theaters as part of the Betty White: A Celebration tribute movie.
“Betty shot a tribute to her fans on Dec. 20, which will be in the film,” producer Steve Boettcher told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published on Sunday, January 16. “It was her idea to do this. She said, ‘I want my fans to know this.’ We’ve been asked to share it. We’ve been asked to put it on social media. The only place we thought was right was putting it in the film and sharing it with her friends, family and fans who are going to be there.”
The film, a one-night-only nationwide Fathom Events screening, was initially titled Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration and intended to celebrate the Golden Girls star’s 100th birthday, which would’ve been Monday, January 17. However, her December 31 death has made it a tribute in memory of White. Now simply titled Betty White: A Celebration, the Monday night screening has been expanded to more than 1,500 theaters across the U.S.
The legendary star died after a cerebrovascular accident, according to her death certificate, which can cause tissue damage as a result of losing blood flow to the brain. The document notes that she suffered a stroke several days before her death.
Obviously, White’s passing made the filmmakers to completely reevaluate the Celebration documentary and even consider canceling it entirely. “The film was already done and distributed to theaters, and we pulled it back. The first thing we did was sit down and talk with our team and Betty’s team — should we just cancel?” Boettcher added during his THR interview. “Betty’s team pushed us on, like, ‘No, she would want this. Go forward. Go with this.’ So that was the big decision that had been made that weekend.”
The producer, who interviewed White many times over the last 15 years of her life, described the icon’s final appearance onscreen as an emotional watch.
“Betty loved getting glammed up, as she called it,” Boettcher recalled. “The dress, the hair, the look — she just loved that. It’s probably about a minute or two long clip of just her looking directly in the camera as the graciously fun, warm Betty. She thanks all her fans over the years and for being out on the 17th to see the film. It’s just got that twinkle that’s Betty.”
White didn’t have any problem finding the right words, either. “The great thing about it is that she didn’t read it off the teleprompter or have a script,” the filmmaker noted. “She ad-libbed it, and that’s Betty to the very end. She’s spontaneous and has the wherewithal to go with it and do it live. She was so good at that. You can’t watch it for the first time and help but get goosebumps when you hear her. It’s just very, very sweet.”
Fathom Events’ Betty White: A Celebration will be in theaters on Monday, January 17.
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