Q&A with actress Helen Hunt

The Fresno BeeSeptember 14, 2013 

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Actress Helen Hunt will discuss her role choices at a Fresno conference.

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE

Who isn't mad about Helen Hunt?

The Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress is the keynote luncheon speaker at the 26th annual Central California Women's Conference, which is Tuesday at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center.

All 3,500 tickets were sold by mid-August —the third-fastest sellout in the organization's history. The conference is designed to educate, motivate and inspire women to be the best they can be in their professional and personal lives.

Hunt's talk — "Live The Journey of Life With Passion" — will explore why she chooses roles only that portray women in a positive light or in leadership.

Hunt starred in the sitcom "Mad About You" for seven years before she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in the 1997 film "As Good as it Gets" with Jack Nicholson. The Bee recently caught up with Hunt for an interview.

Question: You've won the hearts of many people with your performances on TV, stage and screen. What quality did you always try to exude in your character Jamie Buchman in "Mad About You" — and why was it important?

Answer: The quality I tried to exude (and it wasn't difficult) was that I struggled with my own imperfections. That's where humor comes from. That's where there's life, in the imperfections.

Why is it important for Helen Hunt, the artist and the woman, to choose her roles carefully?

Because time is moving quickly. I have a family I want to be with and half-formed ideas I want to write about. Even just sitting and staring at the ocean for an hour would be a good use of time. At this point, acting in things that don't bring something to life, for me, isn't worth the time.

You've stated that your most important role, whether on or off screen, is as a strong, independent woman and mother. How do you achieve those qualities?

Imperfectly every day. I care, as most mothers do, so deeply and fiercely for my daughter that one is easy. As far as being independent, I've found that life has a way of making sure you know how to be independent.

What is your greatest challenge in everyday life?

Staying present in the moment. Not jumping ahead and not looking back.

You were convincing in your role as a single mother with an asthmatic son in "As Good as It Gets." Bravo! What advice do you have for single moms struggling today?

I have none, except love yourself deeply. Everyone will benefit.

I still weep while watching the driveway scene with you and Tom Hanks in "Cast Away." Why does that scene touch hearts the way it does?

I think because life is fierce, and things happen, and the ending isn't always what you thought it would be.

What is the most important thing that you want people in Fresno to get out of your talk at the Central California Women's Conference?

I hope they feel they've had some company in the wonderful and imperfect parts of themselves. And maybe a laugh or two.

Event information

The Central California Women’s Conference, 7:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Fresno Convention Center, is a sellout. Details: ccwc-fresno.org.

The reporter can be reached at rorozco@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6304.

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