May 18, 2000
Actress helps convey the appeal of McCartney
Marc D. Allan
Before winning the title role in The Linda McCartney Story, actress Elizabeth Mitchell knew only one thing about her character: She was Mrs. Paul McCartney. But the more she found out, the more she liked the woman McCartney called Lin.
“I think she was an amazing person,” Mitchell says, “and I hope that people after watching the movie want to know more about her. She did amazing things for cancer research and animal activism. Good Lord, she made $300 million selling food because she wanted to save animals. That’s a pure heart right there, and that’s gorgeous.”
Linda McCartney’s activism isn’t emphasized in the movie, which airs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday on WISH . The Linda McCartney Story is largely a love story between one of the most famous men in the world and the woman who won his heart. The movie has its problems — giant gaps of time are missing, and the crowd scenes are awfully phony-looking — but Mitchell is its greatest asset. She’s so radiant and dynamic as Linda that it’s understandable why someone as famous as McCartney (played by Gary Bakewell) would fall in love with her and remain completely devoted.
“He always said she was the most womanly woman he’d ever met and the kindest woman,” said Mitchell, who read everything she could about Linda after getting the role.
“If you look at her in the ’60s, amidst all this glamour, here she is, this little preppy person. This woman who wears no makeup and walks around in shapeless clothing. She always knew her own mind. I think she always did whatever she wanted. There’s something wonderful about that.”
The movie starts out with Linda Eastman, a divorced mother of a young daughter, working at a magazine for debutantes and hoping to become a professional photographer. She gets a chance to take pictures of the Rolling Stones and, before long, has bedded Mick Jagger. Then Jim Morrison of the Doors.
She’s sent to England to photograph the Beatles, but before even making contact with the Fab Four, McCartney sees her across a crowded club. He’s smitten. Before long, they’re together forever, breaking millions of young girls’ hearts in the process.
Linda gets much credit in this movie, which is based on Danny Fields’ book, Linda McCartney: A Portrait. She was Paul’s lover, his friend, his confidante and his adviser from the time they met until she died of breast cancer in 1998.
She helps Paul arrange for business management to sort out the financial mess the Beatles left behind, talks him out of his post-Beatles depression and into starting a new band (Wings), and even arranges a reconciliation of sorts between her husband and his songwriting partner, John Lennon.
“I love strong women who set out to do their own thing,” Mitchell said. “A lot of me just admires her tremendously and would like to work more toward being the kind of person she is and was.”
For Mitchell, the role comes on the heels of a successful turn as Dennis Quaid’s loving wife in the movie Frequency. (“Nobody realizes that’s me, which I absolutely love. I truly believe that if you can lose yourself in a character, then you’ve done your job.”)
She’s unmarried, but hopes to find someone who loves her as much as Paul loved Linda.
“What a thing to live up to,” she says. “That is my goal, though, yes.”
Liz | The Linday McCartney Story