Marian Seldes: Full Living



I used to hear students talking about their lives as if life was something, like a train or a bus, that hadn’t arrived yet. It was coming; it was down the way, waiting. I know that they felt that life hadn’t begun–couldn’t begin–until they were working as actors, until they had been recognized. But their lives had begun long ago, and what we’re living today, every day, is everything. I can’t sleep all day and then get up and go to the theatre, and then go home again. That wouldn’t be living to me. You move among people and events and then you use it all in your work. That is what I would call full living. What you see as you walk about and live is what fuels what you do, whatever it is. The answers are out there.


From a conversation in 2002

Marian Seldes on Happiness

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I have experienced happiness many times. People ask me what I mean by happiness, and for me, I am happy in that period of exhaustion that arrives after I’ve done something important for someone or something I love. Happiness arrives to comfort and renew the generous, exhausted people.


From a conversation in 2001

Marian Seldes: A Bridge To Build


We all walk on bridges that have been built by the good wishes and good will of others. Parents, friends, teachers, lovers. The bridges are built of love and encouragement. I want to build bridges for others, and I’m never discouraged because I know that I have work to do. I know that someone needs me. I know that I have a bridge to build.


From a conversation in 2007

Everything Happens From Love


Marian with a student at Fordham.


I never say or think something of others that I wouldn’t want said or thought of me or of anyone I love. I try to love everyone as a family member when I come to know them or work with them. I absolutely believe that when people we love and admire succeed, we rise with them, and I am happy when they are happy. I’m now invested in a new group of people who are now in my family, or more firmly in my family. I’m going to be doing whatever I can to see that they succeed; that they are happy; that they have love of the theatre in their lives. If I have a creed or a motto it is this: Everything happens and grows from love.


From a conversation in 2002, during the time Marian was appearing in Ellen McLaughlin’s Helen at the Public Theater.

Marian Seldes: Out Into The World

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Marian Seldes with Charles Busch, with whom she shared a birthday.

If I ever did anything intelligent or bold, it was to go into the day, into the world, expecting people to surprise and change and delight me. And they always did. They always will. I cannot wait to get out into the world.



Marian Seldes: Magical Lives


Marian Seldes in The Royal Family at the Ahmanson, in Los Angeles, 2004.

More than anything–anything at all–I wanted my students, my friends, to be full human beings. I wanted them to be curious and eager to fill the curiosity; I wanted them to read and watch and listen and share; I wanted them to seek and cultivate friendship; I wanted them to love the ground on which they and their friends and families walked; I wanted them to know, always, that they mattered. And from that, from that perspective, pursue their work, do their work, love their work. Nothing begins with work: Work is the reward and the fulfillment of all you’ve loved and thought and done. I wanted and I want magical lives for everyone, and I want everyone to know it is possible to have one.


From a conversation in 2006

Marian Seldes: The Goal Is To Love


Marian in Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, at Williamstown, and directed by Darko Tresnjak.

The goal is to love–to love the work and the people with whom you’re working. Love life–love every precious moment of it; be aware of it as you’re in it and as it is passing. Along the way to love, you will find friendship and work and, perhaps, some recognition, but all of that will pale in comparison to the love.

Marian Seldes: The Real World



On the set of The Extra Man.

I feel that what most people call the ‘real’ world is what we’re left with when we give up; when we accept things too quickly; when we take the ‘natural order’ of things and accept the oldest facts. So many people are told to not trust people and things; so many people are told how difficult or worthless things are. You can’t fight City Hall–that sort of thinking.

I think we need to create the world we want for ourselves and others. My real world is full of caring, interesting, generous people. My world is full of experiences from which I can learn, and which I can’t wait to share with others. We should never let anyone decide our real world for us.

From a conversation in 2008