‘August: Osage County’ Star Estelle Parsons Makes Us Feel Bad About Ourselves

Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times/Redux

We wouldn't think of comparing ourselves to the spry young models introduced over at the Cut. (We're bloggers, not masochists.) Instead, we prefer a different type of physical-fitness competition: old people. (Example: When we go for a run, we take pleasure in passing septuagenarian joggers.) Which is why we found today's Times profile of Oscar winner Estelle Parsons so disheartening. The 80-year-old recently stepped into the role of Violet Weston in Tony-winning play August: Osage County, and, well, she makes us feel completely lazy and out of shape. Parsons is taking over the part from 68-year-old Deanna Dunagan — who cited (we swear) exhaustion as the reason for her departure — and the woman is a workout machine.

We recommend stretching before you continue:

She lifts weights and swims, she said, and has hiked the backwoods of her native New England for most of her life. She hasn’t smoked in many years and rarely drinks. She almost never eats red meat, save for the occasional lamb chop. She started practicing yoga about 30 years ago.


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Ms. Parsons must navigate two sets of stairs (the stage depicts the Weston family’s sprawling Oklahoma house), smoke cigarettes, argue with pretty much everyone onstage, dance to an Eric Clapton song and verbally eviscerate 10 other characters in a family dinner scene.


And breathe…

In addition to her weight lifting and swimming (she swims for 30 minutes twice a week), she goes on 30-minute bike rides on two other days. She takes a break from exercise on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when she has two performances. At her summer home upstate, she also rides her bike or hikes or swims on Mondays, her day off. She played tennis for years and still cross-country skis. And she does yoga in her dressing room and at home whenever she gets a few minutes.


Wow, we are spent just from reading that, but apparently it's all in a day's work: “I don’t like to feel like a freak,” Parsons tells the Times. “I don’t want people coming to the show just to see what an 80-year-old looks like onstage. Isn’t that what actresses do?” Congratulations, Estelle, you have successfully made us feel bad about playing on Facebook last night. (But Friend us, okay?) On the other hand, thanks for pumping us up for this weekend when we're finally going to see the play. And to think we questioned our stamina for sitting through the three-and-a-half-hour show! —Lori Fradkin

The Role Is a Workout, but She’s Fit [NYT]