"My standards are awfully high," Angela Lansbury told The Los Angeles Times in 1986. The actress sat down with the publication to talk about her life, early career and how demanding playing Jessica Fletcher was. It was a role she was grateful for, but it was one of the hardest because instead of just reading her lines on Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury developed her character.
"I'm a hard person to please. I never want to let the audience down; I know what they expect. I know what they expect from the show [and what they expect] from me as an actress. And anything less than that, I am highly embarrassed," she added. "Murder, She Wrote happens to be the most time-consuming job I've had in years. It takes up my whole life. It's totally non-stop, the shooting, and I have no time for home life or socializing or relaxing. When I'm not working, I'm sleeping."
It took a lot to perfect the sole star character of the murder mystery series. For 12 seasons, Lansbury dedicated a chunk of her career to playing Jessica Fletcher—an author in the small town of Cabot Cove who just happened to be the only person who could correctly solve murders.
The actress wanted to make sure that the beloved character was always "in tune" with the times. She prevented Fletcher from being seen as outdated.
"...I've shouted a few times and said, 'Listen here, now, I think we have to watch out for this. We've got to keep her credibility high.' Any kind of reference to her being an old fogy or being out of date, or making a deprecatory remark about a person; I don't think Jessica's about that.
"I think she's so broad-minded in her thinking. She's a hep cat, a smart cookie; she really is. She knows a lot about a lot of things, so whenever they tend to get her eccentric in a wrong way, I just take it right out."
Angela Lansbury did a great job protecting her character's image and credibility; because of her high standards, the role will always be relevant.
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