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She recently realized the apartment that producers rented for her near Lincoln Center happens to be in the same building where Richards lived after she left office. “They didn’t know that but I knew it,” she says with a wink.

Benjamin Endsley Klein, who directs the play, credits Taylor with sharing many of the attributes that Richards was known for, namely perseverance, humor and a never-say-die attitude.

“I admire her hugely because we all know so many people in this world that say, `I’ve got this idea for this thing.’ And then you see them again in two years and they say, `I’ve still got this idea for this thing.’” he says. “She’s created this out of thin air practically.”

The 70-year-old Taylor has built an eclectic career on stage, film and TV. Her film credits include “Baby Mama,” “Legally Blonde,” “The Truman Show,” “George of the Jungle” and “To Die For.” On TV, she was in “Bosom Buddies” with Tom Hanks and had memorable roles on “The Practice” and “The L Word.” Her Broadway credits include “Butley,” “Breakfast With Les and Bess” and “Moose Murders.”

Taylor and Richards crossed paths at a 2004 lunch in New York with columnist Liz Smith, a mutual friend of both women. Taylor, initially a little peeved that Smith was bringing another person to lunch, was soon won over.

“Ann Richards, the minute you meet her, is one of those people who looks at you like you are the only person on the planet. And if there were any other people, she didn’t want to talk to them anyway because she only wanted to talk to you,” Taylor says.

While obviously a fan, she insists her portrayal of Richards will show “all of it” _ “how difficult she was, how changeable, how strong, how weak, how thin-skinned, how frail, how courageous, how terrified.”

Of the future, she’s unsure. If “Two and a Half Men” asks her back to tape episodes, it will have to accommodate her new stage show. Perhaps she’ll take “Ann” on a tour; she’d like to go back to Texas with it.

“I put that wig on and I’m ready to rock `n’ roll,” she says.




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