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‘Feud’ Star Jessica Lange Opens Up About Career, Family and How She Found Happiness

Jessica Lange AARP
Jessica Lange in AARP The Magazine. Ruven Afanador for AARP

A legend opens up. Feud actress Jessica Lange got candid about her family, career and finding happiness in an interview with AARP The Magazine’s August/September issue, and Us Weekly has the exclusive first look.

The 68-year-old actress, who made her feature film debut in 1976’s King Kong, has received worldwide acclaim for her many performances — winning her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in 1982’s Tootsie

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Jessica Lange AARP
Jessica Lange on the cover of AARP The Magazine. Ruven Afanador for AARP

Tootsie turned out to be the best film I ever made. And to win my first Oscar for it was thrilling, not terrifying, the way it might be today. The awards were more casual then. You did your own hair, you did your own makeup. It wasn’t the fashion event of the season,” she told the mag.

But when asked about roles available for older women in Hollywood, the American Horror Story star did not mince words. 

“Ageism is pervasive in this industry. It’s not a level playing field, “ she told the outlet. “You don’t often see women in their 60s playing romantic leads, yet you will see men in their 60s playing romantic leads with costars who are decades younger.” 

And while Lange announced in 2013 that she was thinking of retiring from the glitz and glam of Hollywood, the Emmy winner hasn’t showed signs of slowing down.

“It’s the desire to do something brave,” she explained, “to be challenged.” 

The Big Fish actress has not let the challenges of aging in tinseltown get the best of her. “In recent years, I’ve tried to come to grips with the idea that you can actually choose to be happy. You can choose not to let things affect you negatively.  I’ve always had such a quick temper. I realize now, it’s such a waste of energy.  You can actually choose to let things roll off you.”

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In what might be one of her most demanding roles, The Vow alum opened up on how motherhood changed her life. “Having children gives you a perspective you didn’t have before,” she explained.

Susan Sarandon Jessica Lange Feud
Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange in ‘Feud.’ Suzanne Tenner/FX

Lange is a mother of three adult children — Shura Baryshnikov (whom she shares with Mikhail Baryshnikov, her partner from 1976 to 1982), and Hannah Jane and Shepard Samuel (whom she shares with Sam Shepard, her partner from 1982 to 2009).

“You are no longer the center of the universe. It opened my heart, made me a different person. Every move you make is with someone else in mind. I loved being a mother more than anything else in the world, and being a grandmother is even more fun. There’s the chance to do it again. It’s in the perfect order of nature: You raise your children, and then the next generation comes along. They are the redemptive force in nature. Plus, it’s easier!” Lange gushed over family. 

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Lange can also add author to her list of her accomplishments. Grandmother to two grandchildren, the star penned her first children’s book, “It’s About a Little Bird,” in 2013. 

“It started as a little story I wrote for my granddaughters. I was very interested in turn-of-the-century photographs and the way they would be hand-tinted. So I collected a lot of photographs I had taken of the kids and started hand coloring them. Then the story came together after I had a dream, and I put it together as their Christmas present, as a book. And then a friend of mine saw it and said,’You should publish this.’”

Lange’s AARP interview hits newsstands July 31.

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