AARP Eye Center
When Camille Braverman, the materfamilias that Bonnie Bedelia plays on NBC's Parenthood, returned from a month of art lessons in Italy this season, her husband, Zeek (Craig T. Nelson), wasn't the only one sighing in relief. So were the show's loyal viewers, who flooded message boards with variations on the theme of "Thank God Camille Braverman's back!"
That was just another layer of the affection that has built up over the last five seasons for the satisfyingly complex show and the matriarch of the Braverman clan. Fans often approach Bedelia in public to let her know that Camille is the mother they've always wished they'd had. For an actress who has fought the label "underappreciated" throughout a 55-year career in TV, film, and theater, the belated recognition is gratifying.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
But it's only part of the story.
Married since 1995 to 65-year-old actor Michael MacRae, the 66-year-old actress is now revisiting the hard times and high times of her life for memoir in progress. Born Bonnie Culkin in 1948, Bedelia grew up in a New York City slum with three siblings (brother Kit is the father of actor Macaulay Culkin). Bedelia's mother, a writer and editor, died when she was just 16.
After a brief flirtation with ballet, Bedelia turned to acting. She won over moviegoers as a pregnant marathon dancer in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) and as a pioneering female drag racer in Heart Like a Wheel (1983). She also played Holly McClane, the woman who Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) battled the baddies to save in Die Hard (1988) and its first sequel (1990). A cascade of star vehicles and character roles followed.
Bedelia took a break from shooting the last few episodes of Parenthood's fifth season to share her hopes for Camille Braverman — and for herself.
Q: Do you feel the same tug between ambition and devotion to family that Camille does?
A: Yeah, of course. No matter what troubles you may be having with your children, at some point you have to say, "I have a life, too!" If everything stays overfocused on Camille's children, who have been there since she was practically a baby herself, she could turn resentful. I think Camille deserves a little freedom.
Q: Camille seems to glow when she's painting.
A: Thank you. I'm a painter myself, and I've just started doing portraits of our cast family. I had done a portrait of my husband, and he liked it so much he asked me if I would do one of myself to go with it. When I was finished, I noticed it looked more like Camille than me! That gave me the idea to do paintings of Zeek and the rest of the cast family. If we go another season — which I'm hoping we will — maybe I can have a little Parenthood exhibit.