Mary Steenburgen teams up with four other Oscar winners in ‘Last Vegas’

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Mary Steenburgen in “Last Vegas”

LAS VEGAS — In “Last Vegas” (opening Friday), Mary Steenburgen plays Diana, an attorney who gives up her practice to pursue her dream — becoming a singer. That unusual mid-life career change leads her to Las Vegas, where she lands a job as a lounge crooner in a third-tier hotel/casino. She ends up becoming romantically involved with both Robert DeNiro and Michael Douglas’ characters in the comedy film.

Recently, I chatted with the Oscar winner at the Aria Hotel in Vegas, about her music, plus working with four of the most-acclaimed actors of her generation.

Q: Hard to believe that none of the guys — Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman or Kevin Kline — had ever worked together. And you and Kevin had only worked together in one film, correct?

A: That’s right. Kevin and I had worked very briefly together. I think we only had two short scenes in “Life as a House.”

Q: In this film, we get to see you sing a fair amount. How was that for you?

A: It was scary for me. In the end it was great, but I had a lot to prove to myself — whether or not I could actually do that.

I write music. I’m a musical person, but I usually write for other people. So for me to actually be the one singing was profoundly terrifying. But I worked hard at it. In the end it turned out fine.

Q: In real life you’re married to a wonderful guy and actor, Ted Danson, but it must have been fun to be in this movie — where you’re romanced by both Michael Douglas and Robert DeNiro. Not too shabby, eh?

A: Not too shabby at all. It was a dream come true. I’ve always adored them from afar — all four of them. At various points in my life, I’ve said to Ted — about each of them — ‘I wish I could work with him one day.’ And then, boom! — there they are all in one movie. I literally said to myself, ‘Pinch me!’

Q: How was it being with Michael Douglas on that roller coaster thing? It looked scary.

A: I hated every friggin’ second of that! Man, oh man. To know what that was like you have to go and sit in the front of that thing! There is nothing between you and what seems like 100 stories down. Not my idea of fun. I know a lot of people love that stuff, but not me.

The only thing good about it, was that Michael was as scared as me. So I didn’t feel so lame. But talk about acting! I had to act like I loved it, because my character was the one that took him up there.

Q: This film has a ton of funny moments, of course. But there also is a lot of poignancy. Some of the more dramatic moments involve your character and DeNiro’s. What was that like for you?

A: It was amazing. When you act with him you realize he deserves to have the reputation as the great actor that he does. Just the second you look into his eyes and start talking to him, all the people standing around [next to the set] taking your picture in Vegas, and screaming – just disappear. It’s because Bob has this path he finds to go deeply into the material. He’s a true actor. He never started phoning it in.

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