BetteBack July 11, 1993: An Interview With Kathy Najimy (Hocus Pocus)

Walla Walla Union Bulletin
July 11, 1993

Film, Hocus Pocus _ Drei zauberhafte Hexen, USA 1993, Regie Kenny Ortega, Szene mit Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler & Sarah Jessica Parker, Walt Disney, Hexe, Hexen, Schwestern, Halbfigur, Make Up,
Film, Hocus Pocus _ Drei zauberhafte Hexen, USA 1993, Regie Kenny Ortega, Szene mit Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler & Sarah Jessica Parker, Walt Disney, Hexe, Hexen, Schwestern, Halbfigur, Make Up,

KATHY NAJIMY HAS Hollywood at her feet. Literally. Tinseltown glistens in the setting sun far below the balcony of her rented house in the hills of L.A.

Figuratively, too, Hollywood has been genuflecting ever since this New York actress – a Lebanese-American whose name is pronounced na-JIMMY – became a national habit last summer as the super-chirpy Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act.

Now she’s starring with Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus, opening next Friday, and she’s in Los Angeles filming Sister Act 2 with Whoopi Goldberg.

What more could the 35-year-old native of San Diego want? A lot, it turns out. She’s highly opinionated, actively political and unafraid of any topic (“ I just say anything; I haven’t learned how to be a celebrity” ).

Q: What seems strange about Hocus Pocus is that this is a Disney movie about child-chasing witches. Was this odd to you?

It’s mostly about three witches trying to get this book with magical powers. But the film was weird to me, and I’ll tell you why: When I first read the script, I had concerns about being in the film. … I believe there are witches. There are whole groups of witches. They’re not evil, and they’re not satanic, and they don’t wear pointy hats, and they’re spiritually unified, like Buddhists. And there are groups of witches, like the NAACP or NOW. There are thousands of them. I ’m not a witch, and I don’t know any witches personally, but I would respect witches who do good work as witches.

Q: So, how did you handle the witch question?

I talked to some friends about it: How big an issue was it? How much damage would it do? Plus, I really wanted to work with Bette Midler. She was someone I had looked up to for 20 years. And I thought: When am I ever going to get a chance again to be in a movie with Bette Midler? So I suppose I compromised a little bit.

Q: You’re pretty vocal about things that you care about.

It’s hard to explain this to people without them thinking you’ve gone completely over the edge. It’s like: “ OK, Kathy. [Supporting] abortion rights is fine. Gay rights is fine. Even women’s rights and racial issues. But now you’re, like, for the witches?” But to me, it’s all the same. I’m for human dignity, respecting individuality, and the right of people to feel the way they want to feel.

Q: Without hurting your career?

I’m not concerned about that. When I did the gay march on Washington in the spring, the TV interviewers were like, “ Wow! You’re here.” And I was saying: “ Why wouldn’t I be here? Is this odd? Equal rights for all humans?” I didn’t even know I was going to [appear at the podium at the rally]. … The producer grabbed me and said, “ Why don’t you go onstage?” At one point, I said, “ President Clinton, don’t let us down.” And people started chanting “ Don’t let us down! Don’t let us down!” It was so amazing to have this come back at you. I wanted to say “ Kathy is pretty!” [laughs] and hear people chant “ Kathy is pretty!” I’ve never felt anythingnelse like that in my life. Ever. A million people.

Q: Let’s talk Sister Act. Did it feel bizarre, putting on a nun’s habit for the first time?

I thought it would. But I actually got into it. It was comfortable. The great thing about Sister Act was you didn’t have to worry about wardrobe. You could have a big lunch, and no one knew.

Q: Sister Act generated terrific comments about you.

It’s great to have people say nice things about you. It’s difficult when they say “ steals” – as in “ steals the focus” or “ steals the scene” [from the star, Goldberg]. Because it’s like maybe I did something that’s in competition with the other actress. I don’t think that’s a compliment. People are so quick to want to separate women.

Q: Hollywood can be a vicious town, especially if you don’t fit the blond, buxom stereotype.

But isn’t it great that the stereotypes are getting broken now? I mean, look at me.

Q: Going on location, staying in hotels – this career can be hard on a love life.

For me, it’s important to have a love relationship. It’s important that I have something in my life that’s the opposite of the business end.

Q: Well, you’ve been involved for years with John Boswell [a musician]. How did you two meet?

We met seven years ago. He was living in L.A.; I had just moved to New York and was doing Kathy & Mo at a cabaret. A mutual friend asked him to come, and I met him afterward. He was gorgeous. He had this great smile. I’m a teeth fanatic.

Q: You went out because of his teeth?

That night, and every night for the time he was in New York. And then we started this great phone relationship. Then he came to stay with me for a week, and I came out here for a week. And then, four months later, he moved to New York. And we’ve been together ever since.

Q: Sounds as if it’s worked out neatly.

It is good. I don’t want it to sound like it’s a perfect relationship. It’s difficult to be apart; it’s difficult to be in show business; it’s difficult to be in the music business; it’s difficult to get the attention I ’ve gotten, even though it’s in little spurts and tomorrow they’ll forget who I am. But when Sister Act came out, it was like a huge wave, and all of a sudden you have to deal with people recognizing you. I often think: “We must love each other so much to put up with this. There must be some undercurrent we have no control over that’s forcing us together.”

Q: But no marriage plans?

At different times, he’ll say, like, “ We really ought to think about getting married.” And then, three months later, I ’ll say, “ Maybe we should get married.” And then, a year later, he’ll say, “ Weren’t we going to get married?” We still have some things to work out. I don’t
feel any driving need to get married.

Q: What about children?

I would like to have a child. Sometimes I feel pressure to have one, but then I meet women who are pregnant who are over 35. It gives you hope. I ask everyone who’s pregnant how old she is. Bette Midler had her child when she was over 40.

Q: Or maybe you could adopt, like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Why did Nicole adopt? Maybe she didn’t want stretch marks. … I’m kidding you, Nicole. I don’t want any letters from Nicole lovers.

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