Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black History Month Day Six: Cathy Tyson

Cathy Tyson is one of those rare celebrities that doesn't whore themselves out on a daily basis. You won't find her in tabloids or in Hollywood blockbusters trying to make a few million- in fact if my calculations are right you have probably never heard of Cathy Tyson outside of her role in The Serpent and the Rainbow. And rightly so- as I think Cathy cares more about acting than she does about making a name for herself. After reading a fantastic interview that was done by the Independent regarding one of her most recent roles in "Liverpool Nativity", I have come to realize that Cathy Tyson is both interesting and pretty damn amazing.

The character of Marielle Duchamp is one that has always interested me. Here we have a strong doctor that is a woman- who is dealing with the unthinkable- real life zombies. She is smart, tough, and can think on her feet when scary evil Voodoo priests are involved. She also knows how to heal a nailed through scrotum- and can do a mean sexy possessed dance. The love story between her and Bill Pullman's character is nice- but that isn't all there is. Marielle Duchamp survives the movie- and fights back. She isn't reduced to this love object that is merely used to get Bill Pullman's character further through the story.

The daughter of a lawyer from Trinidad and an irish social worker from Liverpool, Cathy Tyson grew up in Toxteth, an inner city area of Liverpool- where she felt trapped by the impeding estates closing in on her from the countryside. At the age of 13 she ran away to London, got a job and changed her name. Talk about starting over....and she was only 13!! Don't worry though, after about a week Cathy returned home where her mother never spoke of the incident again. Soon Cathy became involved in theater- a move that Cathy claims saved her by giving her a voice in drama.

Cathy Tyson's first big break in Hollywood came with the movie, Mona Lisa-
starring Bob Hoskins in which she played a famous prostitute. By all accounts Cathy Tyson could have dove further into the acting scene- (She was even praised for "acting Bob Hoskins off the screen") but she didn't. She instead chose to focus on theater and acted for the Royal Shakespeare Company and others- where her performances were critically acclaimed. Even though there have been regrets in her life when thinking about what she could have accomplished, Cathy has certainly come to terms with it now citing that fact that new challenges in her life and acting career have helped. But since when do we need an actor or actress to make it big in order to garner respect? I would love to find out more about Cathy Tyson- but resources are so limited- fitting I suppose, to her overall career existing just below the radar. In any doubt- Cathy Tyson's Marielle Duchamp is met with respect by most horror fans- so hopefully she knows that she'll always have a home here...

"My family are outsiders, so it's ironic that I'm now saying lines like, 'Go back to where you came from!' That is what was levelled at me as a child."

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