’Night, Mother

’I think almost every woman knows someone at a crossroads in life, when your children have grown and they leave home and this woman finds herself off course.” Mia Farrow’s describing her starring role in Fran’s Bed, James Lapine’s new play about an empty-nest mom whose pain-pill addiction lands her in a coma. “I would not be in that predicament myself,” she adds. “I’ve gotten far enough in my life to have some clues as to how to proceed.”

Still raising six of her fourteen children on a Connecticut farm, Farrow has a few years to go before retiring her celebrity-soccer-mom status. But after years of raising her brood of adopted and biological kids—several with severe health problems—Farrow’s schedule has become packed with acting gigs. Having wrapped a movie with Luc Besson and another called Fast Track, Farrow, willowy and shivering in a long-sleeve shirt that reads PEACE NOW, is taking a break from a twelve-hour tech rehearsal.

Lapine’s play concerns a family’s decision to pull the plug, and in the wake of the Terri Schiavo affair (which the script predates), provides no easy, didactic answers. Neither does Farrow, who five years ago watched a grown daughter die of heart failure. “You looked at those pictures [of Schiavo] and she looked pretty happy, and you started thinking, Well, maybe it’s not so bad being a vegetable, maybe it’s as happy as you can get. I don’t mean to be glib, but those things run through your mind.”

Farrow describes her New England child-rearing in idyllic terms, but no one will forget the tabloid circus of the custody trial that preceded it. Beyond the emotional devastation, when Woody Allen ran off with her adopted daughter, he took away Farrow’s career—for thirteen years she’d done nothing but Allen movies.

“I think a person without regrets is a nincompoop,” Farrow says. “I met Mr. Allen and did some films—even a couple of good films in there. Maybe three. I don’t know what would have happened had I been able to work freelance. No point in speculating, because here I am.”

Even as a child in Beverly Hills, Farrow says she dreamed of raising a family “of all races, and many with disabilities.” (Of kindred spirit Angelina Jolie, she says, “Her heart seems to be in absolutely the right place.”) Farrow also wanted to be a pediatrician and work in Africa. But plans change. “I had many, many backups,” she says. “I have a rich fantasy life.”

Fran’s Bed
Written and directed by James Lapine
Playwrights Horizons
September 25 through October 9.

’Night, Mother