Q. You once said that playing Norma Desmond in the Canadian production of Sunset Boulevard in the mid-'90s was the most rewarding role of your career. Do you still feel that way?
A. I would say it was. However, I have paid the price for taking my life to Canada for almost two years and leaving everything — my family, my marriage. It was not an easy time. But it was a great experience, absolutely. Now I do like to do the kind of work that does not involve long periods of time on the road.
Q. You have a recurring role in the USA Network series White Collar. How does the show's filming schedule affect your life in California?
A. It's a wonderful situation. I think last season I shot four or five episodes. I go back to New York to shoot, which I love because my grandchildren live there — ages 10 and 12. They're almost as tall as I am.
Q. An upcoming episode features you singing at the Cotton Club. Was that your idea or the writers'?
A. It was their idea. I haven't done any singing in a very long time. There comes a time where your vocal cords, they look at you and say, "We're tired." But I enjoyed doing it, I really did. It was nice to wake up those areas of my life again.
Q. You wrote an autobiography in 2009 called The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying, and Other Things I Learned the Hard Way. What do you wish you knew in your 30s or 40s that you know now?
A. I've learned a great deal. However, I'm not sure I would have wanted to know it in my 30s and 40s — trying to find out is what gives you your momentum. I think you have to learn it on your own. Although the first thing in the profession that I know now, that I perhaps didn't then, is: Listen more than you speak. Listen, and always ask questions.
I think, too, at this age, I have understood that it's really not necessary to marry everyone that you feel you've fallen in love with. I remember having kind of a conversation like this with Elizabeth Taylor, and I think we'd both come to that conclusion. You don't have to get married! [laughs]
Q. Mistakes are often part of who you are.
A. Mistakes are definitely part of who I am. I wouldn't want to have lived without having those mistakes. So that's why I try to be cautious about advice. I hate giving advice.