Sharon Gless
Photo: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
She broke barriers in Cagney & Lacey, gave unconditional love in Queer As Folk and is now driving her ex-spy son up the wall on USA's Burn Notice. Actress Sharon Gless reflects on the best lessons she's learned and more.
Screening Room: Is there one piece of advice you've been given that has stuck with you?

Sharon Gless: It was something my mother taught me—to always have compassion. It helps as a human being. It helps me as an actor, and I like to believe that I do have that ability, to be compassionate of others. It gives you an understanding of someone else besides yourself.

What inspires you?

SG: Kindness, bravery, talent. I love talent. How I've done my career is I kind of steal from the best. I watch actors I really, really admire. And I think: "That is really interesting. I'm going to remember that." And then you hope sometime a role will come up and you remember exactly that moment or that quality. I do have a great passion for talented people, and they don't all have to be actors. It's inspiring to watch.

I don't like ego. I don't like negative ego. I don't like when you can watch an actor and their ego's working.

Do you have a favorite movie?

SG: It's from the '40s—I love the '40s movies. It's called The Awful Truth with Cary Grant and Irene Dunn. I saw that years and years and years ago, and I just loved it. The timing of Irene Dunn—she was so brilliant as a comedian … and a great dramatic actress.

I collect movies; it's the only thing I collect. I have about 800 movies.

Do you have a favorite place to travel?

SG: I love to go to London. I've done two plays there. I love Miami. I love going to Los Angeles because all my family's there. … I love any place that has an ocean.

And I love Toronto. It's a great city. We shot Queer As Folk there for five years, and I still keep an apartment there.

If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

SG: I'd say Judi Dench. I've always wanted to meet her. What I would say to her, I have no idea—but it'd have to be something better than "I've loved you in all your movies."

Sharon Gless on the new season of Burn Notice


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