Kathy Bates: ‘I told Clint that after 50 years, I feel like I’ve hit the big time’
With her fourth nomination for an Oscar, Kathy Bates talks about overcoming brutal criticism about her looks, her pride at playing real women and why she loved working with Clint Eastwood
Oh, Im a bumper! says Kathy Bates as I reach out to shake her hand. A small fist comes towards me with a large, round, pink-rose ring on the middle finger. We bump and laugh and one of the truly unique American acting powerhouses of the past half-century beams back at me. She has a splendid smile, full of mischief and wisdom: a small and compact woman buoyed by that straight-up, unfeigned southern warmth that abides no matter where you encounter it. She fusses over me kindly, offering drinks a world away from the nervous, shy, deeply rattled and easily hurt woman I have just watched in Clint Eastwoods new movie, Richard Jewell.
Bates plays Bobi, the mother of the eponymous character, a security guard at the 1996 Olympics in Centennial Park, Atlanta, who discovered a backpack full of pipe-bombs, laid by white-supremacist terrorist Eric Rudolph, minutes before it exploded. Although one person died and 111 were injured, Jewell saved countless lives by clearing the area before the bombs exploded. But within days he found himself under a nationwide spotlight as the FBI focused on him as their chief suspect.
For 88 days, he and his mother endured a press siege outside their shared apartment and a vicious feeding-frenzy in the national media until the FBI halfheartedly admitted he hadnt planted the bomb. Almost a decade later, Rudolph confessed in a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty. Jewell enjoyed only a brief vindication though, dying of heart failure aged 44 in 2007.