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Fame & Fortune
Karen Allen
Blockbusters aside, actress sticks to her knitting
Celebrity interview

Fame & Fortune: Karen Allen

I would get calls to come in and meet a producer or director or casting director who had seen me in a play or a film and were interested in helping me find that next job. I think that was probably when I thought, you know, this may work.

Bankrate: What was your first paying job besides acting?

Karen Allen: When I was in my teens, I worked with mentally handicapped kids and I did that in the summers. I very much enjoyed that and actually considered going to school in the field of special education. That was my first paying job. Then I had lots of those other kinds of jobs: I worked in bookstores; I worked in clothing stores; I painted houses at one point; I was a buyer for a clothing store. I was never afraid of hard work.

Bankrate: What was your first big splurge after making it in Hollywood, so to speak?

Karen Allen: I bought an apartment in New York City. That was my first big splurge. It was on East 10th street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. It was two floors in a brownstone, but back then two floors in a brownstone didn't cost what it costs these days.

Bankrate: After the huge success of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," you chose to spend years out of the limelight and chose to do the same again starring in "Starman." Why the decisions to back off from the mainstream?

Karen Allen: Well, I don't know that I was necessarily backing off from the mainstream. I consider Broadway and off-Broadway mainstream. If you live in New York City, you kind of consider that as much mainstream as you consider doing a studio or independent film, so when I finished "Raiders," I had not done a play for maybe four years and having really come out of working in the theater, I was just missing that experience of being on stage, rehearsing and working with actors in that collaborative way that you necessarily don't do in film. So it was really a creative decision that I needed to do for my own kind of inspiration.

Bankrate: Do you have that anticipation now coming back to play Marion Ravenwood in the next "Indiana Jones" movie?

Karen Allen: You know, I was so thrilled when Steven Spielberg called me to do the film. I was excited, but it's a different thing when you do film because you have the protection of somebody going "CUT -- That's really boring!" Then you have the chance to do it over again, whereas on stage in front of a thousand people, you don't have that protection.

The trepidation in film is it's all interpersonal: Am I going to get along with these people? Are they going to like what I'm doing? For the first time, I was coming back to a familiar situation. I had worked with Harrison, I had worked with Steven Spielberg, I had worked with Kathy Kennedy and Frank Marshall, the producers on the film, and George Lucas as well. So those usual main anxieties that actors feel entering a film, those were not really present for me. That was a huge relief because some actors can spend a whole film getting comfortable with the director or who they're playing opposite, so I got that for free.

Next: "They wrote me this beautiful role ... we just fell right back into it."
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