The Fretts on Film Interviews: Stephen Colbert and Darlene Love
Everyone was feeling the love at the opening-night gala for the 2nd Annual Montclair Film Festival—including guest of honor Darlene Love, star of the new documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom, about the highs and lows of being a backup singer, and local New Jersey resident Stephen Colbert, whose wife Evelyn is one of the fest’s organizers. I chatted with both at the after-party, held at Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theater.
I saw you here last year at the first Montclair Film Festival. How does this one compare?
It’s great. It’s longer, there are more films. It’s already selling out like mad. I’m so happy. I love arts festivals. I was an arts-festival kid. I got started by working at the Spoleto festival [in South Carolina], which was music and dance and that kind of thing. I love that Montclair’s got this now. When I was a kid, I’d go see these things and think, “Oh, maybe I could do that.” And hopefully there are kids out there who feel the same way. That’s not the only reason to do it, but it’s a big part of it–that the community can meet the artists. It’s a great way for people to come together. It’s a great party. Who doesn’t love a springtime party?
Your wife called upon you to do a fundraiser for the festival with Jon Stewart at the Wellmont Theater. What was it like interviewing him onstage?
I loved doing it in Montclair, but I’d never interviewed Jon and he’d never interviewed me. The thing was, I probably know what Jon does better than anyone else, because I do the closest thing to it, and the hardest thing for me was not to ask questions that were too inside baseball. I had my research department write my first 10 questions. I said, “You know about him, but you don’t know him. I know him really well. I’m afraid I’m going to ask questions that mean nothing to the audience.” So I had to slow down for the audience.
Twenty Feet from Stardom hasn’t been released yet, and it’s already impacting your career. After 26 years of having you sing on his Christmas show, David Letterman has invited you to sit on the couch for an interview this year.
Can you believe it? When I go on, I want everybody to watch it, because I’m going to go, “Oh, David! This couch is so wonderful!”
How do you think the film will affect you once it’s actually out in theaters?
I don’t know. I’m going to hide in their house (motioning to her tablemates). This is my sister and one of my best friends. Between you guys, they’re not going to be able to find me!
This is not your first film, though. You played Danny Glover’s wife in the first four Lethal Weapon movies.
This is going to do more for me than Lethal Weapon ever did. You know why? Because this tells a story about how you can start and just keep on, if you believe in your heart what you’re doing. Lethal Weapon was a story about Lethal Weapon. But this is about how you can do it. Hang in there! I tell people all the time, “Why anybody would want to be a preacher, a president or a singer, I’ll never know!”
So why are you a singer?
I do believe it’s a gift, and I think I should share it. And the only way you can share your gift is to perform. And I’ll do that until I can’t do it anymore!