It's been said that one way to become successful at achieving your dreams is to hang around people who are already where you want to be. Sometimes that's not possible because some of the greatest lessons can be learned from people who have passed on. Thank God for books, recordings and movies. I have been asked by my mentor to study actresses that have gone before me who have brought to the table the same qualities I possess. One of these actresses is Melina Mercouri, the Greek actress who gives a brilliant performance in Never On Sunday. She plays a prostitute with such style and grace the men not only respect her, they fall in love with her. The first thing you notice about Melina is her eyes. Very large and dramatic to say the least and she know how to work them.
Her story is a fascinating one. She was married to the director of Never On Sunday, Jules Dassin. He built his career around her. She worked in seven films of his until she retired to go into politics.
Never On Sunday released in 1960, was film noir, in black and white. I also watched A Dream of Passion (1978) where Melina worked with another one of my archetypes, Ellen Burstyn. She too has amazing eyes, but more on her later. Melina has been quoted as saying that she did not enjoy working with Ms. Burstyn and my mentor did mention in class that Ellen Burstyn was not a particularly nice person. Interesting...since I found so many aspects of her life fascinating.
Anyway, back to Melina Mercouri. She was 40 years old when she did Never On Sunday and 58 when she did A Dream of Passion. Greeks like Black people must age very well because she looked the same to me and ...Passion was in color! She's a stong and powerful performer although I enjoyed her more in NOS. Passion was a little over the top for me, but then again it was probably directed that way. Her husband was screenwriter, producer and director on that one.
Melina is also a singer and has a remarkable scene in Never On Sunday where she laments the life she about to give up. This may be the way I return to singing professionally...in one of the roles I book as an actress as well.
Ilya, Melina's character in Never On Sunday, holds her own, does things her way, empowers others and has fun doing it. She is loved and respected by all. That's what I bring to table.