Before we even get started with our interview, Betty White wants to make one thing clear: She loves Canadians. Absolutely adores them. “I wish Americans could take manners lessons from them. They are so nice,” she gushes. “We get some rather rude, hurried people here sometimes.”
Best known for her iconic roles on The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 87-year-old White is still quite active professionally, making regular guest appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Boston Legal, and game shows like Million Dollar Password.
She’s also been popping up in scene-stealing roles in films like the upcoming The Proposal, with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.
With another project co-starring Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis about to start, the word “retirement” doesn’t even register for White — though she has earned the luxury of being picky.
“They send me scripts, and some of them are not what you might call wonderful,” she confides.
To most, though, White will always be Rose Nyland, the naive Minnesota native sharing a house with three friends in The Golden Girls. The recent passing of co-stars Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur has only bolstered the show’s popularity.
And the outpouring of support after Arthur lost her battle to cancer earlier this year offered some comfort to the grieving White. “She meant so much to so many people. It was heartening to see how much they rallied.”
Saying goodbye, especially so soon after Getty passed away, was tough but necessary. “We had to let her go. She was so sick,” White says. “She was in terrible trouble, pain-wise. And the morphine couldn’t reach it. But she was someone special.”
White says she’s been keeping in touch even more these days with Rue McClanahan, the other surviving Golden Girl. “We’ve been clinging to each other ever since losing Estelle and losing Bea. We want to be together,” White says. “You can’t work that closely and not get terribly involved personally.”
Another comfort has been the continuing popularity of the series, which still confounds White to some degree.
“When the DVD came out, I thought who’s going to watch it? We’re on four times a day. They know the lines better than we ever did,” White jokes. “But sure enough, the DVD keeps selling all over the world. I hear from Finland, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. Will you explain to me what people see in old broads in Sri Lanka?”
Probably the same thing they do in Canada.
– The Proposal hits theatres this Friday