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Gloria Stuart / Actor

May 16, 1999|STEVE HOCHMAN

Like co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, 88, has followed "Titanic" with challenges: "The Love Letter" (with Kate Capshaw, Blythe Danner and Tom Selleck) and Wim Wenders' upcoming "The Million Dollar Hotel"--typical for someone (her autobiography is due in September from Little, Brown) who's had success as a glamour star, painter and printer.

TAKING CHANCES: "I've turned down three 'darling grandmas'--loving, sweet loyal grandmas. I'm not interested in loyal, sweet grandmas. The part in 'Million Dollar Hotel' is a real derelict bag lady--profane, independent, mean. And the one in 'The Love Letter' is amusing, a little ditsy."

SPIELBERG LAUGHS!: "What I loved about doing 'The Love Letter' was not only working with Kate and Blythe, but that it's a comedy role. I'm very funny. Even Mr. Spielberg, who came on the set and had seen some rushes, came over and said, 'You're a very funny lady.' "

TRUE GRIT: " 'Million Dollar Hotel' has Mel Gibson playing a rotten FBI agent. Mel is doing it because it's a villainous part. There are six derelict characters, of which I am one. The language is very raw and the location is desolate and seedy."

DIRECTORS' CUT: "James Cameron and James Whale are my two favorite directors I've worked with--both renaissance men of film. And Peter Chan, who directed 'The Love Letter,' is close to that. 'Comrades,' which he made in Hong Kong, is one of the best pictures I've seen for interplay between characters, an extraordinary film."

WIM AND VIGOR: "Then we go to Wim Wenders, a classic film noir director. He would put the six [main characters] together, all derelicts trying to be on top of each other and let us go. I've had four absolute top-hole directors--and at my age to have Chan and Wenders now is a miracle."

IN DEMAND: "The first script I got [after "Titanic"] was of a space woman. I said to the producers, 'That's very dear of you, but I don't see myself as an 85-year-old in space.' The next one--title shall be nameless--had such kinky sex and violence. It was made, but not with me."

SAVORED LIFE: "What I love about writing my autobiography is my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know what their great-grandmother was like. It's not ordinary. I was a star at 22 and finished at 29, then had years of doing my own thing. I've had three successful careers--besides having fun and games in between!"

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