At 66, Carol Kane is just as adorable as when she played Latka’s doting wife, Simka, on Taxi and starred in classics like The Princess Bride and Annie Hall. “I’ve been wildly lucky to work with so many great artists,” Carol, who counts Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton among her co-stars, has said.
The Oscar nominee and Emmy winner is now wrapping up the final season of her acclaimed Netflix comedy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. How has she survived the ups and downs of Hollywood for decades? By “prioritizing” what’s important and following a loved one’s advice about keeping friends close. “My mother has a favorite toast: ‘To continuity!'” Carol said with a laugh. Now, Carol opened up in an exclusive new interview with Closer Weekly (in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now) about her family, why she chose not to have kids, and her unbreakable spirit — scroll down to read our Q&A with Carol!
What’s it been like filming the last season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
We didn’t know it was the final season until maybe [two] months ago. My reaction was great sadness, and I think I can speak for all four [lead actors]. But we’ve been told there will be a Kimmy movie to wrap things up in a way that [co-creators] Tina Fey and Robert Carlock would like.
What’s been special about it?
We feel good with each other and are supported by genius writers. Netflix gave them freedom, which doesn’t always happen, though I’ve been very lucky on network TV with Taxi.
You and Andy Kaufman had such great chemistry. What was your secret?
We had a special relationship. We were so different, but we tried to support each other. I’d always say, “I got mad because you didn’t want to rehearse,” and he’d say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t,” because he wanted it to be fresh. We had profound discussions, and by the time we went onstage, we were together and it was fantastic.
What’s your favorite role?
I have lots of favorites for different reasons, but certainly the profound and rich role I played in Hester Street, a black-and-white movie about Russian immigrants at the turn of the century. I was nominated for a best actress Oscar because it was a great role.
Carol with Andy Kaufman on Taxi.
Any fun Princess Bride memories?
All of ’em! Billy Crystal was improvising wildly. Cary Elwes was supposed to be mostly dead and couldn’t stop laughing. Mandy Patinkin was trying so hard to contain his laughter, he [bruised] a rib!
You and Diane Keaton were in Annie Hall and two other films. Are you still close?
Oh, yeah. Diane is a national treasure. There’s no one like her. So brilliant, so diverse in terms of her interests in photography and architecture. Her spirit is indomitable. We’ve known each other a very, very long time, and it’s hard to imagine my life without her.
Who are some of your other famous friends?
One of my best friends is my girlfriend Gena Rowlands. And Valerie Harper and I have been friends for at least 30 years. We yak, have little private jokes together and have had a lot of fun. We’re honest with each other, and that’s something rare and wonderful.
How about your family?
Both of my parents are artists. My mother, Joy Kane, was a dancer and is a musician. She’s still composing at 91! My father, who is not with us anymore, is Michael Kane. He’s not the actor. He was a brilliant architect. And my sister Anina is a realtor.
What impact did they have on your path?
In our childhood, we were encouraged to understand and learn about the arts. When I was eight years old and my sister was nine, we moved to France for a year and a half, learned to speak French and saw that other world. Then when I was 10, my dad was working in Haiti. There was a lot of uprooting, but also a lot of uplifting, so my childhood was unusual and nourishing and also challenging.
You never married or had kids. Did you ever think of adopting like your pal Diane did?
No, I made a decision. I have four-legged children — the best people in the world are doggies! I never had two-legged kids on purpose, because I never felt that I would be calm and stable enough to be the kind of mother I’d like to be. I don’t think everyone randomly is mother material.
What’s your biggest life lession?
Probably one that I’m still learning — to keep gratitude at the forefront, so I don’t unravel about minuscule things that present themselves so largely in the moment but are really nothing in the long run.
And the best decision you ever made?
Moving into my mother’s building a few years ago. She’s a fabulous woman. I’ll never be as smart as she is, but I might keep trying!
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