Bates: Vet thesp survives and thrives

Women's Impact Report 2011: Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates not only survived cancer and a youth-obsessed industry, she’s thrived.

The Oscar winner silently battled ovarian cancer in 2003, only recently speaking about her ordeal.

“I went underground, and didn’t do anything else but fight this,” says Bates, who is now cancer-free. “It knocked me off the horse for a while, then I went through depression. It took a couple of years to get my strength back.”

The feisty actress stars as a canned corporate attorney who starts anew in David E. Kelley’s “Harry’s Law.” The role earned the respected actress her eighth Emmy nomination and was one of the few NBC starters to get renewed.

“I’m a character actress, so I don’t get to play leads all that often,” Bates says. “Being my age, it was a gift to have this role and even more when I was allowed to play her with gray hair.”

Coming back for a second season was almost a miracle.

“It’s no secret this series didn’t have much critical acclaim or support from the outgoing NBC regime,” Bates says. “Bob Greenblatt’s vote of confidence, and the support of Peter Roth, really was a high point.”

Bates also shook things up as the brassy new owner of Dunder Mifflin in “The Office” and grabbed the spotlight as intellectual den mother Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”

“Look, from my narrow point of view, older actresses find it hard to get a good role,” says Bates. “You are usually relegated to peripheral roles. I expected the good roles to be few and far between.”

Instead, Bates spent the past year generating some of her best work.

“It’s hard to make a living and even harder to make an artistically satisfying living,” Bates says. “That’s why I feel tremendously grateful for my spot on the rock.”

Title: Actress
Role model: “People who exhibit true forgiveness and compassion”
Career mantra: “The goal of the actor is that line of dialogue disappears and a human being takes its place.”
Leisure pursuits: “Writing, painting, spending time with my dogs and friends”
Philanthropic passions: Methodist Hospice Residence in Memphis, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

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