Audiences fell in love with Beverly D’Angelo for her role as Chevy Chase’s wife, Ellen Griswold, in National Lampoon’s Vacation. The actress is set to star in the upcoming 3D film, I Heart Shakey – a heart-warming must-see comedy for kids and families to enjoy together.
At age 49, Beverly welcomed twins Anton and Olivia, now 11, with ex Al Pacino. The mother-of-two opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about co-parenting with grace and love. “As a co-parent, you have to remember that what you’re doing is giving your children an example of conflict resolution, and it’s a mighty gift to give to anybody,” she says. Beverly also talks about raising children in Tinseltown, with an “ongoing responsibility to educate them on how to deal with the public impact.” Continue reading Beverly’s thoughtful interview, including advice for parents of multiples, and her hopes to work with Chevy again.
CBS: Tell us about I Heart Shakey. It sounds like a great family movie!
BD: “It is! Everybody that was involved shared the values in this movie. Family, love and loyalty are really what get you through life and that’s what it’s all about. This is a lovely story that illustrates that. It tells the story of a newly widowed man and his daughter who have moved to the big city for an opportunity for him to be a big time chef, but he realizes the compromises really aren’t worth it.
Shakey is the dog. The father and daughter move from a small town with their dog. They move into an apartment building that doesn’t take dogs, so they have to house the dog in a doggy hotel. Everyone gets reunited, and I don’t mind giving that away because just watching it visually is pretty wonderful. It’s 3D which was fascinating to shoot on a technical level, but it’s also pretty thrilling as far as entertainment goes.”
CBS: How are the twins doing?
BD: They’re doing great – they’re 11 now. I was just in Columbus, Ohio, my hometown, where I was visiting my family. Good friends of one of my borther’s are expecting twins and I found myself passing along so much twin advice.”
CBS: What’s some of your best advice for parents of multiples?
BD: “What I realized in talking to this mother-to-be, what seems to matter the most to first-time parents of twins is worrying about one-on-one with each of them. But I will tell you the truth, especially about newborn twins. Twins are a phenomenon, and they’ve been together since they were conceived. Every parent wants to have that valuable one-on-one time. But they grow with you as you grow with them. You don’t need to feel guilty, especially in those early months, because they’re very linked. And actually, taking them away from one another is a dynamic to understand, as well as your need to be with them alone.
It’s like when you meet a couple. You would never think, ‘Let me isolate them so I can get to know them better.’ Of course that happens and your friendship grows, but it wouldn’t occur to you to think, ‘The only way I can get to know these people is to separate them.’
Even the sibling rivalry manifests itself differently with twins. Even to this day, it’s hard not to say, ‘I spent this amount of time with my daughter so I should carve out the exact same time with my son.’ It’s more fluid than that. Twins can actually teach you a lot of flexibility and they can enlarge your heart.”
CBS: Do the twins have a close relationship?
BD: “My children are very close to one another. I grew up with three brothers and I’d say we had a lot more disagreements than I’ve ever seen my kids have. We don’t use the word ‘twins,’ we use the word ‘siblings.’ ”
CBS: Did you carry the twins?
BD: “Yes, I gave birth to twins. I had turned 49 six weeks earlier! As someone having twins late in life, I had a lot of bedrest. And I didn’t go full-term, I went to 36 weeks.”
CBS: Do you and your ex Al Pacino co-parent well together?
BD: “Yes we do, we’re great friends. The basis of our relationship was always a friendship and now 16 years down the line, it remains the same.
These children were vey much wanted and it was a purposeful journey we took together. We reached a point where we decided it would be better not to live together. But we co-parent well. We have a schedule that we follow when the kids are with me and another for when they’re with him. We have a lot of consistency and we’re good friends. We’ve got a 50/50 agreement and I accommodate his work schedule and vice versa.”
CBS: What’s your best advice for parents who co-parent together?
BD: “My best advice for parents who co-parent together, without sounding too cliché, is always acting in the best interest of the children. It’s a cliché because it’s the truth.
I was very well-advised on how to transition from an intact family, to a two-household family. There was all this stuff in the press that was wrong and erroneous and slamming me a lot. But I never responded or clarified anything and that is because someone said to me, ‘Imagine the children at 15 and they’re taking a look at their past in a way that 15-year-olds will be able to do. What do you want to represent to them?’
As a co-parent, you have to remember that what you’re doing is giving your children an example of conflict resolution, and it’s a mighty gift to give to anybody. In this world, the ability to resolve conflicts in a loving and enlightened way is probably the greatest gift you could ever give to anybody. Not everybody sees things the way you do, and it’s important to see the other person’s point of view – to accommodate, to accept a value system that might be different than yours. All that stuff is an example that you’re giving your children.
The absolute worst thing you could ever, ever, ever do to your children, is to involve your children with any facet of the personal relationship you may have with your ex. You have to remember that your ex is the person that your children love.”
CBS: This is a very evolved way of thinking! Now that we have google, you must be relieved that your kids won’t see and nasty quotes from mom against dad!
BD: “Our kids will be exposed to the stuff that was once written in the press. But what they’ve experienced is something different. Half of your child is that person, and you love your whole child. You have to access that and remind yourself that your children were brought into this world in the spirit of love.
It is a fact, they’ve quantified it, that the impact of divorce and living in two homes is real. Children that are brought up that way, they have that as part of their character and their experience and that will never be taken away from them. So as a parent, you must look at the positives in that experience because it is simply not the ideal, but it is a reality. And when you’re dealing with the difference between ideal and reality and you’re giving your children the tools for life, you want them to have the tool of experiencing conflict resolution.
You want them to have a calmness in their heart, knowing that their parents speak to each other and are friends. You want them to learn that relationships can continue in a good way that doesn’t tear the kids apart. And that’s what people simply must do. I think it should be a law. The court system tries to impose laws, but it’s really up to us as individuals to go beyond. All the law is going to say is parenting time and the financial breakdowns. But everything else is a parent’s responsibility. And it’s something that every parent must take responsibility for, or they’re really failing their kids.
At the same time, you can’t beat yourself up over things you can’t control. You may have a lot of hostility toward an ex, but it is not worth it because you’re never going to change anybody. Anything past the hurt and the emotional adjustment of ending a relationship is really your own work to do. That should be worked out with a therapist, with friends, a rabbi, a priest, whoever, in order to get past that so it’s not part of your baggage.
You have to recognize that your past is your past, and you can’t bring your past into the present. Your children can be wonderful guides in teaching what it truly means to live in the present and not be burdened.
Here’s an example. For part of their year-end project, the kids had to make a stop-motion video for their history class. They had a premiere and the kids asked the teachers not to give out awards to just everybody. As it turns out everybody’s stop-motion was wonderful, but my daughter didn’t get one of the awards and she had some crocodile tears. I thought about it much longer than she did, and I came up with something relavent. I was all ready to say, ‘Your dad’s been nominated many times for an Oscar, but only won once, and I was nominated for awards and never won. It doesn’t change the value of what you did, it’s a completely separate thing.’ So I asked her again, ‘How are you doing?’ And she said, ‘Great!’ So she was completely over it, which is a testament to the resilience of children. And I think it’s something that adults need to learn, especially in the context of going from an intact family, to two-home household for your children. You need to access your resilience. You need to access the fact that the past is your past, your present is your present.
Stay in the present as much as possible and do not let the past encumber the present, especially as a parent. If you find it weighing-down your present, get yourself some professional help to talk it through and get it out of the way so that it doesn’t interfere with your responsibilities at hand.”
CBS: This is such a wonderful way of thinking and co-parenting!
BD: “It’s hard to do, believe me, it’s hard to do. But I’m telling you, I did it. I gained 100 pounds when I had those kids and it took me years to get a handle on all of that. I was kind of ‘into’ being fat for a while. I was a bit obnoxious about it, saying, ‘Well, you know, it doesn’t matter what I look like.’ But then I started to embrace my health and cut down on carbs and cut out white sugar. I went to a doctor and asked, ‘How do I get a handle on this?’ That changed my life and it helped my self-image a lot.
There’s a lot to come out from under when you find yourself a single parent, and you hadn’t planned on that. There are the single parents who elect it – I didn’t elect it. So for me, a lot of growth was involved. But two things started to happen. One thing was that as I embraced my own life, I noticed that all of my friends and all of my friendships were a result of things that I, myself, generated. They weren’t hold-overs.
You know when you go through a breakup, you lose friends. But I looked around at my life and thought, ‘I made this life for myself, and the life that I had as part of a couple is in the past and how wonderful that we created these wonderful children.’ But everything else was our shared past. Our shared present has to do with co-parenting and that is a different thing.
The toughest thing about being a single parent – and one thing to watch for too – at the end of the day, when you have all of your parenting stuff done, it is really wonderful to be able to turn to somebody and get off the topic of kids! If you’re a single parent, you don’t have that, but that’s where the friendships that you’ve built come in. That’s where the things that give you sustenance come in. Things like: a healthy snack, or yoga or exercise, reading, or even playing an online game! Just something that brings you back to your center. So when you start the following day, you’re coming from a centered place, not a place that’s been taken off center by others’ needs. Which, is what life is! It’s about fulfilling your own needs so that you can teach your children to fulfill their own needs in life too.”
CBS: Are you ever concerned that your children will be treated differently because of their famous last name?
BD: “Yes. My concern for that has to do, not with them, but with other people. So I feel that my specific responsibility with having children that have celebrity parents is to clarify again, and again, and again the reasons for that celebrity.
When the kids started getting their pictures taken every time they went out with their dad, from the very beginning I said, ‘The reason that your dad gets his picture taken so much is because of the roles that he’s played. It’s not because of the man you know. That man is your father, and you know him, and that’s your relationship with your father. And that’s different than the relationship that he has with the public.’
Close friends of mine who are the children of celebrity parents tell me it’s difficult for children to deal with the phenomenon [of celebrity]. People will say, ‘I’m such good friends with Al, and I know him so well.’ They’ll say that to kids as well, and that can be a very defeating thing for a child to deal with. They might feel there’s something about their father that they don’t know. It’s very important for them to know that they have a specific relationship that doesn’t have to do with this phenomenon of fame and the media.
So I feel it’s my ongoing responsibility to educate them on how to deal with the public impact. Hopefully their radar will continue to be good, because they’re pretty clear about it at this point. They seem to understand the difference between someone who’s befriending them because it could put them in a specific position with their parents, and someone who’s responding to them genuinely.
Children of very famous people have a lot of adults that approach them in a way that’s different than [children of] non-celebrity. That’s a fact. It’s a relatively small population, but you want to keep your kids out of the public eye as much as you can, the same way that every parent feels protective.”
CBS: You seem like a very open person and communicative mother.
BD: “You have to be. It’s good to let your kids know who you are, because they’re going to know who you are anyway, whether you’re famous or not! It’s no use being hypocritical and pretending you’re not who you are.
I don’t think you should force your children to take responsibility for your emotional shortcomings, but I think it’s alright to acknowledge when you’ve done something wrong. If you’ve yelled at a child unfairly, I think it’s valid to say, ‘I’m working through this and I’m sorry.’ I think that being open is another gift you can give your child so that when they hit the teen years, they’re not shut down. That’s a very good tool to give children, especially from two-home families. You want them to be able to discuss their lives and not be thinking, ‘I better not talk to mom about dad, or I better not talk to dad about mom.’ That’s a very isolating way to live.”
CBS: We loved you in the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies! Any chance for a reunion with Chevy Chase for another film?
BD: “Chevy and I want to work together so bad! I said to him, ‘Let’s do a web series – let’s get with it!’ And he asked, ‘What does that mean?’ But I’m working on him! He’s got a new season of Community coming out which is good news for me because he’s my neighbor and I get to see a lot of Chevy.”
CBS: What’s up next for you?
BD: “Speaking of web series, I just worked on Aim High which is a web series about a boy in high school who has a double life as a spy. And I’m doing a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie called Bounty Killers. In July, I’m shooting a movie called The Arranged Marriage of Moonbeamat and it’s adorable! It’s like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but it’s based on the writer-director’s life experience of growing up in a commune and a friend of her’s that went off and became a lawyer. She just couldn’t find the right relationship, so her mother takes it upon herself to send the word out that they need to find a husband for this girl.”
For an exclusive clip from I Heart Shakey, click here.