- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Shirley MacLaine pulled no punches when asked about her take on life at age 80.

“Well, I’m a lot closer to dying,” she said, with a chuckle.

Maybe so, but there still seems to be a lot of life left for both the vibrant woman and her Oscar-winning career.

MacLaine is among the very few octogenarians who still get name-above-the-title billing, which she shares with 84-year-old co-star Christopher Plummer in the big-screen dramedy “Elsa & Fred,” the upcoming American remake of the 2005 foreign-language favorite.

“I had seen the Argentinian film,” MacLaine said in a recent interview. “Loved it,” she continued. “Loved the relationship between the two. Older people falling in love was really attractive to me.”

At first glance, MacLaine’s Elsa is merely the nutty neighbor to Plummer’s Fred, who has pretty much given up on living in the wake of his wife’s recent passing.

But there’s a lot more to Elsa than Fred, or the film’s viewers, see coming. Getting specific would spoil the surprises, but it’s safe to say that moviegoers should take what Elsa says with a grain of salt.

“She really did lie about everything,” MacLaine revealed.

But little matter, as it’s what Elsa does that’s of greater importance, as it re-introduces Fred to “La Dolce Vita” - both the classic Fellini movie, and, for real, its English translation, “the sweet life.”

No doubt, the character looming largest over MacLaine’s career and persona is the feisty, fiercely protective Aurora Greenway from the 1983 blockbuster “Terms of Endearment.”

“Adore her,” MacLaine said. “Would like her on my tombstone. Loved her. My favorite part.”

It’s ironic that, after more than a quarter-century making movies, playing Aurora finally earned her the best-actress Oscar because, MacLaine said, it wasn’t really acting.

“I’m kind of like her,” she explained. “That’s the closest I’ve come to being like a character. I mean, I don’t know, frankly, how difficult it was to play her. I think I just played myself.”

When asked if she’s had la dolce vita, MacLaine said, “I can’t imagine a better life. I’ve sat back and looked at it and thought, ‘Oh, my. What haven’t I done?’

“I can’t think of anything except I’d like to live on a wild-animal farm,” she continued. “I’d like to live as though I’m on safari in Africa, maybe permanently, and get to know those animals. But as far as my work and stuff, I’ve done everything. I just want to keep on doing what I’m doing.”

“Elsa & Fred” opens in U.S. theaters Nov. 7.

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Online:

http://elsaandfred-movie.com

Follow Mike Cidoni Lennox on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CidoniLennox

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