maui film festival
COURTESY RANDALL MICHELSON
Felicity Huffman held a conversation with the audience before the screening of her film "Phoebe in Wonderland."
Moment of truth inspires actress Felicity Huffman in any medium
WAILEA, Maui » Felicity Huffman seemed surprised to hear that her athletic endeavors inspire women. "I do?" the down-to-earth actress said, laughing. "Even though I run a 10-minute mile?"
With encouragement from her trainer, Kirsten Hultgreen, Huffman first completed the run portion of the Nautica Malibu Triathlon -- which raised funds for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation -- four years ago. Her husband, renowned actor William H. Macy ("Fargo"), biked and Hultgreen swam.
Because cameras are often pointed at the "Desperate Housewives" star, her preparation went a step further than theirs. "I'm probably the only person who puts on makeup before doing a triathlon. I feel so retarded. I'm in front of the mirror at 4:30 in the morning going, 'What am I doing?' "
Huffman, poked fun at herself and laughed with the audience of about 400 before the screening of her thought-provoking film "Phoebe in Wonderland" at the Maui Film Festival, where she received the Nova Award for original and insightful work. She credited her husband with guiding her through some of her best performances.
"He coaches me more than I coach him, because I think he's a better actor than I am, and he's really good at breaking down a script. So I rely on him a great deal.
"During 'Transamerica' I called him almost every day, asking him about scenes that I was doing, because I was lost," she said during a short conversation before the public interview. "I called him from the set in my low voice (she played a man trying to become a woman), because I couldn't break out of it." Later in the evening, Huffman joked that Macy eventually banned her from using that voice with him because it was "too weird."
Huffman sees little difference between working on a small film and reporting to the set of "Desperate Housewives" -- except for the blistering pace of network television. Because of last-minute rewrites, she often has to learn her lines in the make-up chair, and later second-guesses the way she played certain scenes. Amenities also change. She admitted that having someone serve you is a lot nicer than running out to Denny's, as the cast and crew of "Transamerica" did.
Even so, noted Huffman, "the currency of an actor is the same whether you're getting paid a lot of money or not. And our currency is the truth of the moment. So regardless of the venue, that stays the same."